May 17, 2023 - Sports

Tampa Bay's soccer scene grows with women's USL Super League

Illustration of a hand with a watering can watering a soccer ball

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tampa Bay is getting a professional women's soccer team next year, the United Soccer League announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Tampa Bay's famous sports scene is getting even bigger, and this adds another proposed stadium into the mix that would shake up our traffic, economy and downtown skylines.

Driving the news: Local real estate developer Darryl Shaw, restaurateur and former professional sports team owner David Laxer, and tech executive Jeff Fox are funding the local USL Super League, according to the news release.

  • The ownership group is exploring temporary stadium sites for the inaugural 2024 season and plans to eventually build a centrally located soccer stadium for the team.

Between the lines: The USL, which is based in Tampa, also oversees the USL Championship men's professional league.

What they're saying: Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, a star basketball and volleyball player at Chamberlain High School and the University of Tampa, said in a statement that she didn't have a lot of female athletes to look up to during her sports career. This new team is helping change that for kids today, she said.

  • "This announcement is the start of something special — for our city, for our region, and for so many girls and boys who'll get to see amazing new role models right here in their hometown," Castor said.

What's ahead: Before the team starts playing in August 2024, the public will be able to give input to help decide the club's name, colors, and crest.

  • An advisory board of "community voices and soccer lovers" will help make sure the team is connected to the community and understands how to make a positive difference both on and off the field.
  • A representative for the league told Axios that the club will be building out soccer operations toward the end of this year and will begin recruiting players soon after.

Don't want to wait to watch women's soccer? Tampa Bay already has a pre-professional USL W team, Tampa Bay United. The next home game is tonight at the Tournament Sportsplex of Tampa Bay.

  • The Tampa Bay Strikers, a new indoor men's and women's league coached by former Buccaneers kicker Martin Gramatica, started its inaugural season in January.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say Tampa Bay United's next home game is tonight (not June 1) and to fix the hyperlink to the team's schedule.


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