Yesterday, USL Division 3 Vice President Steven Short took over the @USL_D3 Twitter account to hold an AMA about the new league, which debuts in 2019. The questions asked covered everything from requirements for potential markets, to talk of the regular season schedule, and — as there always will be on American Soccer Twitter — Promotion and Relegation. Yesterday helped to clarify the direction the new league wants to be heading towards in the future.
So, let’s dive right into the afternoon that was filled with questions, most of which gave us some interesting food for thought.
Unsurprisingly, nearly half of the AMA questions regarded expansion. Mentions of Evansville, Indiana started off the afternoon’s questions, leading to a market being revealed on the league’s radar.
Toledo was also brought up as another favorable market from the league’s recent visit to the Northwest Ohio city.
Great stop in Toledo with local officials, and visits to Maddie & Bella Coffee Roasters and Packo's at the park! Love the downtown vibe. https://t.co/ekYTTFWWjs— USLD3 (@USL_D3) June 9, 2017
It is exciting to see which parts of the country are drumming up the most interest in this new league. The regions mentioned above are both attractive options for USL D3 expansion.
The league did answer a question of my own about expansion into the Carolinas and about my hometown club in particular.
#USLD3 What are your thoughts on the potential markets of the Carolinas? Wilmington?— Ryan Allen (@ILM_Ryan) June 9, 2017
First expansion trip included the Carolinas. Definitely see opportunities in both. https://t.co/wgSg1MinUJ— USLD3 (@USL_D3) June 9, 2017
North and South Carolina provided the bulk of the expansion visits when the league did its tour of the southeast earlier this year.
Of course, it did not take long for the question of Pro/Rel to come up.
Great question! Immediate focus on building financially successful and sustainable D3. Then we'll see how to best implement Pro/Rel. https://t.co/WSzzURSz3Q— USLD3 (@USL_D3) June 9, 2017
Short responded to the question in a way that does not completely rule out pro/rel in the future, stating that the league’s initial goal is to become financially stable before deciding how best to start promotion and relegation in the league, a decision that makes the most sense for the stability of the league.
Another topic of conversation was stadiums, leading to an interesting conflict of information. A question regarding specific stadium requirements was asked, with this answer given.
USL min. standard of 3,500 seats. Not necessarily soccer-specific. https://t.co/M7Sopgqoo8— USLD3 (@USL_D3) June 9, 2017
However, per the USL D3 website, all stadiums must be soccer-specific.
This discrepancy will lead to fascinating conversations about what stadiums are best for the clubs, in the short- and long-term. This answer supports comments Short made on the SocTakes Podcast, stating that while soccer-specific stadia are preferred, some markets may have another type of venue that can properly showcase the team and league.
Some details about the new league’s schedule were also shared, with a pattern of fixtures very similar to that of the USL.
The league will focus on regional travel and rivalries. Regional-based divisions that would meet in playoffs. https://t.co/2zy0IShTRi— USLD3 (@USL_D3) June 9, 2017
With the clubs operating at a lower budget than their D2 counterparts, cutting down on travel costs seems to be a key component of the new league. Focusing on regional travel and having teams relatively close to one another could also foster local derbies between supporters. There is no denying that rivalries have helped grow the sport in this country, and focusing on them when creating a schedule is not a bad idea. From the start, it sounds like the league will be separated into divisions, with the goal being to grow towards conferences.
8-12 teams in year one. Grow strategically to a national footprint featuring 30-40 teams. https://t.co/hExYkBj4Nz— USLD3 (@USL_D3) June 9, 2017
One of the closing tweets of the AMA was about the growth of the league. For year one, USL D3 wants to target 8-12 clubs, allowing a growth to 30-40 clubs. This can certainly lead to at least two conferences. It is reassuring to see that the ambition of the new D3 league matches that of the D2 league.
One question that has been on the minds of many has been when we will hear which clubs will be the pilot teams of this new league. Those announcements appear to be on the horizon in the coming months.
In addition to questions being answered, Short revealed future locations that will receive a visit from the league, including Wisconsin and Iowa. The latter will include a trip to a match featuring longtime PDL club, the Des Moines Menace.
Excited to visit Wisconsin. Great cities with great sports fans! Stay tuned... https://t.co/aRlSjQxdqT— USLD3 (@USL_D3) June 9, 2017
Looking forward to visiting Des Moines next weekend for the Menace v. Thunder Bay match. https://t.co/a4mJkdaf9Z— USLD3 (@USL_D3) June 9, 2017
After making trips across the Southeast and Midwest, it appears that the league is moving further west in its official visits, taking in the scope of the entire country in order to grow its national footprint and gain a foothold in markets across the United States.
Thanks for your questions today. Looking forward to next time. Keep the questions coming! - @USLsteven— USLD3 (@USL_D3) June 9, 2017
Yesterday’s AMA answered some questions many of us had about the new league, as well as provided some points of discussion for the future. With the league’s kickoff slated for 2019, today went a long way in continuing the conversation about USL D3, helping us understand the direction of the league and the future of American soccer.
What are your thoughts on the AMA’s questions answered from yesterday? What topics about the new league interested you the most? Let us know in the comments below!