“We believe a professional team in Dayton will complement the existing youth, amateur and collegiate infrastructure and not compete against it,” Short said.
The USL is an established Division II league and boasts on its web site its position as the “longest standing member of the U.S. Soccer Federation.” The league is launching a third-division men’s professional league in two years, looking at cities with populations of 150,000 to 1 million.
Asked how likely a Dayton USL team is, Short said any answer would be speculative but added: “Dayton is definitely a city of interest for us.”
USL DIII expansion officials have been visiting Dayton and other Midwest cities in recent days.
Short and Josh Keller, director of business development for the USL’s Division III, have visited or will visit Toledo, Fort Wayne, and Lansing and Grand Rapids, Mich., according to the league’s web site www.usld3.com
Said Short, “We enjoyed our trip to Dayton; we had a great time.”
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Short said he was able to visit sites, meeting with local officials and others, but he said he did not connect with prospective team owners.
“I would say we’re at the preliminary stage, to be up front with you,” he said. “This is purely a fact-finding and information-gathering trip.”
It’s a Millennial population that truly drives teams, with a healthy micro-brewery culture and good sites, he said.
“You know the desire is there (in Dayton, for another pro team) to a degree,” he added. But facilities and ownership also play a role in any franchise’s success.