Ottawa Group Applies for Professional Soccer Franchise
Sept. 1, 2009 (Ottawa, ON.): Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), in partnership with Ottawa Fury owner and CEO John Pugh, today announced they have applied for a United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) franchise. The team would play and be based at a proposed new stadium at Lansdowne Park, which would be built as part of the Lansdowne project, subject to Ottawa City Council's approval.
"Our application for a USL franchise, at this point in time, ensures that soccer specific elements will be incorporated into the stadium design to optimize the experience for soccer fans and players," said Jeff Hunt, an OSEG partner. "And I can tell you, the fan experience for USL-1 soccer is top-notch-the caliber of play, the quality of the stadia and the involvement of the players in community activities is second to none. It's a tremendous environment for soccer purists, casual fans and families seeking an affordable, fun outing."
The USL First Division is the league's highest level of professional soccer in the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. The 2009 campaign featured an 11-team format playing 30 regular season matches, 15 home and 15 away. The league schedule is augmented by participation in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, CONCACAF Champions League, and various domestic and international exhibitions. In 2009, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and FC New York were respectively named the 12th and 13th teams of the USL First Division. The USL's lower-level divisions for elite player development include the Premier Development League (U23 men's North American amateur) and the W-League (women's North American amateur), which are already established in Ottawa as part of the Ottawa Fury organization.
"For the thousands of local soccer fans, the dream of top class professional soccer in Ottawa is a step closer to reality today," said John Pugh, owner and CEO of the Ottawa Fury. "Ottawa has clearly demonstrated its appetite for the 'beautiful game' as a participation sport. Now, everyone who enjoyed the passion and excitement of the 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup games at Lansdowne will have their own team, Ottawa's team, to cheer for. The club will foster the growth of the game in our region, provide opportunities for players who aspire to play at an elite level and be a significant community asset"
Tomorrow (September 2), Ottawa's City Council will review the Lansdowne proposal, which has been negotiated between City Staff and OSEG over the last four-months. Included in the proposal is a plan to renovate and rebuild Frank Clair stadium to host professional soccer and professional (CFL) football. OSEG has already secured a conditional CFL franchise, subject to a stadium agreement with the City.
"From a business standpoint, professional soccer is a tremendous asset for the stadium," said Hunt. "We'll have as many as 20 dates for soccer, 10 for CFL football and, potentially, dates for Carleton Ravens and Ottawa U Gee Gee's football, along with outdoor stadium concerts. It'll be a busy place and a tremendous environment in which our community can gather."
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