The following is part of a new series of articles in which the Amarillo Pioneer news team will investigate questions you have about Amarillo to get you the answers you deserve. If you have a question you would like answered, please email us at email@example.com.
Question: Will we have professional soccer at the MPEV (downtown baseball stadium)?
Answer: Probably not.
Last week, a rumor began circulating on social media that Amarillo could get professional soccer at the downtown baseball stadium during the offseason for the team owned by Elmore Sports Group that will play in the stadium. Specifically, proponents of the idea said that Greenville, South Carolina had obtained a deal for a United Soccer League Division III team to play at their stadium so it could happen here.
While anything is possible, the chance of professional soccer at the downtown baseball stadium is extremely slim for a few reasons.
First, the contract for the stadium's lease, signed by Mayor Ginger Nelson and Amarillo City Council, significantly limits any ability for non-baseball events to be held at the stadium. The City of Amarillo has no right to hold events in the stadium unless the City receives no compensation for the event and it is open to the general public. Meanwhile, while Elmore Sports Group could sublease the stadium to a United Soccer League franchise, it is extremely unlikely. Looking at all of the stadiums which are currently home to teams owned by Elmore, not a single stadium is leased or subleased to a team or franchise participating in any sports other than baseball. In fact, only two stadiums (PK Field, Eugene, Oregon; San Manuel Stadium, San Bernardino, California) are home to any teams other than Elmore's. At both stadiums, the other team is a baseball team for a local university.
Secondly, USL Division III is newly created and is looking for stadiums in select cities. Steven Short, vice president of the league, is touring cities with completed stadiums only in certain areas of the country. Specifically, Short is touring cities in the Midwest, Southeastern U.S., and in North Carolina. Three teams have already been added to the league (one in Arizona, two in Southeast U.S.). However, the league says that it is seeking home stadiums in cities with a population of between 150,000 people and one million people, which Amarillo narrowly fits into. Based on the current location searches, the league seems set on finding homes in cities larger than Amarillo.
Finally, the season played by the USL would directly conflict with the season played by the professional baseball team in Amarillo. Last year, the USL played between March 25th and October 15th. This time frame would cut directly through the heart of the minor league baseball stadium.
So, in answer to your question, could Amarillo have professional soccer? Possibly, but the chances are extremely slim.