Professional soccer is officially coming to Reno.
United Soccer League President Jake Edwards formally awarded Northern Nevada the USL’s 28th franchise Wednesday afternoon at Aces Ballpark in front of approximately 450 community members and future fans.
The team’s inaugural season will start March 2017.
Among the numerous local officials in attendance were Governor Sandoval, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and Washoe County Commission Chairperson Marsha Berkbigler.
“What an exciting and historic day as professional soccer comes to Reno and the Northern Nevada area,” Edwards said.
Edwards spoke to the international appeal of both the game of soccer and the global reach of the new home of the USL’s 28th franchise.
“One of the big things we like about Reno,” the USL President said. “Is I think we’re on a parallel track.”
The USL is a professional soccer league that has strong ties with Major League Soccer. Twelve of the league’s current 24 teams are affiliated with MLS clubs while eight are owned by MLS franchises.
The USL is rivaled by the 13-team Northern America Soccer League but most of its franchises are east of the Mississippi River. Teams in the USL are located as far west as Seattle and Portland and as far east as New York City.
Reno’s newest professional sports team will play its home matches (15 of a 30-game schedule) at Aces Ballpark and will be steered by Aces management, led by Owner Herb Simon and President Eric Edelstein.
Edelstein wasted no time at the podium taking a shot at new rival, Sacramento, whose owner, Warren Smith, was in attendance.
“We have every expectation that we’re going to put a competitive team on the field,” Edelstein said. “Sacramento is the New York Yankees of this United Soccer League, for better or for worse. We are coming for you (looking at Smith) and excited at the challenge.”
Sacramento Republic FC is in third place in the Western Conference and has secured a spot in the playoffs which start next month.
Like it was for the Aces when the club came to Reno in 2009, the naming rights for Reno’s newest addition is up to the fans. Submissions are being accepted at the team’s website, uslreno2017.com. The deadline is Oct. 15.