Lexington Pro Soccer, United Soccer League One Expansion Team, will Begin Play in 2023
LEXINGTON, KY – October 5, 2021 – The United Soccer League (USL) announced today that the city of Lexington has been awarded a League One expansion franchise. The club is majority-owned by Tower Hill Sports and is slated to kick off its inaugural season in 2023.
William J. Shively, Founder of Tower Hill Sports, is widely respected for his investment in the Lexington community and in the city’s sports industry. Shively, who owns the historic Dixiana Thoroughbred horse farm, opened the first Tower Hill Sports complex in January 2019, to provide an outstanding soccer experience for youth and adult players alike. The company’s second complex opened in 2021.
Vince Gabbert has been named President of Lexington Pro Soccer. Gabbert, a native of Northern Kentucky, has served on the boards of local organizations including Commerce Lexington and the Bluegrass Sports Commission. Gabbert will continue his work with Keeneland on strategic initiatives and legislative affairs. Additionally, Sam Stockley has been named the club’s Sporting Director. Stockley, a native of Tiverton, England, played professionally in England, Hungary and the United States for nearly 20 years, and transitioned into coaching and technical director roles in both the United States and England at all levels from youth to professional, including the National Team level with the U.S. Soccer Federation. Stockley has spent the last two years with the Welsh FA as coach education instructor and consultant.
“Lexington has a rich and storied tradition of sporting excellence, from the racetrack to the hardwood and beyond. Our local teams and athletes have long been among the best, and our fans are some of the most passionate in the nation. Our community is comprised of a diverse and international citizenry, which has a deep appreciation for the game of soccer. To bring a Professional club to Lexington is a natural fit,” said Gabbert. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to bring a USL League One club to our great city and to our incredible fans. League One features an impressive lineup of community-driven soccer clubs, and we’re honored that Lexington will now join that group and become a part of the USL family.”
The unveiling of the club’s full crest and brand will be developed through input from community members and soccer fans, who will play a vital role in the process. With an aim to reflect the energy and diversity of the region, Lexington Pro Soccer will host multiple listening sessions over the coming weeks and months, relying on feedback from the community to create an identity that represents Lexington authentically.
The club will initially play at a nearby collegiate facility, with terms currently being finalized, and a formal announcement to be forthcoming. Lexington Pro Soccer will be responding to the RFP for the High Street Development Project, with the intent to construct a state-of-the-art soccer-specific venue on the site that could also accommodate festivals, concerts, and other events, adding another entertainment option to downtown Lexington that would sit adjacent to Rupp Arena and the Central Bank Center. Apart from the stadium proposal, the club is exploring multiple site locations in Fayette County to be developed into the training grounds of the club, as well as the home to their Academy program, further advancing the game in Lexington and Central Kentucky.
The club is launching a survey to hear from the community in what they would want to see in a new venue. Fans can complete the survey here.
“This is an exciting moment for USL League One, the city of Lexington, and Central Kentucky,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “Since League One’s inception, Lexington is a place we’ve wanted to be because of its celebrated sports history and growing appetite for soccer. With tremendous leadership in Bill Shively, Vince Gabbert and Tower Hill Sports, this club will create a new source of great pride for the people of Lexington and the Central Kentucky region.”
Since its inaugural season in 2019, USL League One has brought professional soccer to fans in communities across the country. Currently comprised of 12 clubs, League One will add two expansion clubs next season in Fresno, CA (Central Valley Fuego FC) and Windsor, CO (Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC).
The United Soccer League has over 125 clubs across professional (USL Championship, USL League One), pre-professional (USL League Two, USL W League, USL Academy) and youth (Super Y League) properties within its membership. In September, the USL also announced the USL Super League, a new professional women's league that will apply for Division II sanctioning from USSF and aims to begin play in 2023.The USL brings the thrill of professional soccer into the homes of fans nationwide through broadcast partnerships with ESPN and SiriusXM Radio.
Lexington Pro Soccer’s inaugural season will begin Spring 2023. Fans interested in placing a deposit on tickets for the 2023-24 season can visit https://lexingtonprosoccer.com/pages/tickets.