Mens & Women's Professional Soccer Coming To Jax

  • by Charles Wagoner
  • August 30, 2022
  • 307 views

The United Soccer League (USL) today announced that JAXUSL, a Jacksonville-based group of investors and executives, has acquired the rights to a USL Championship expansion franchise with the intent of beginning play in 2025. The new club will be the first in Northeast Florida to feature both men’s and women’s professional soccer. 

JAXUSL also has formed a partnership with Florida Elite Soccer Academy, one of the largest and most successful youth soccer organizations in the United States. Headquartered in St. Johns County, Florida Elite includes more than 10,000 members throughout Northeast Florida, and fields pre-professional teams in USL League Two and USL W League. The expansion club will be among the first in the United States to offer a complete pathway from youth to pro for men and women. 

The USL Championship currently features 27 professional, community-driven clubs across the United States with plans to add expansion teams in Iowa, Rhode Island, Louisiana and more. The USL Super League will bring professional women’s soccer to new markets and create opportunities for women on and off the field.  

JAXUSL’s lead investor is Ricky Caplin, one of Northeast Florida’s leading entrepreneurs and principal of the Caplin Ventures. Florida sports legend Tim Tebow is a supporting owner of the club, bringing experience as a professional athlete, investor and philanthropist. Joining Caplin and Tebow in JAXUSL are experienced professional soccer executive Steve Livingstone and local community innovator Tony Allegretti. As founders and managing partners, Livingstone and Allegretti will oversee the day-to-day operations of JAXUSL in establishing and growing the USL expansion club.

The USL Championship team intends to kick off in 2025, contingent on securing a home venue on the First Coast for the club. JAXUSL is actively engaged with local stakeholders and has identified multiple potential locations for the development of a 15,000-capacity stadium and a world-class training facility. Details about the stadium and training facility will be announced in the coming months. 

Soccer fans across Northeast Florida will be invited to help develop the club’s brand through community consultation, town halls and a naming competition. Fans can register their interest in the club now by securing a season ticket deposit for $25 at the club’s official website, www.jaxusl.com

USL COO & Chief Real Estate Officer Justin Papadakis and USL Super League and W League President Amanda Vandervort joined the JAXUSL leaders at TPC Sawgrass for today’s announcement.

USL COO & Chief Real Estate Officer Justin Papadakis: “This is an extraordinary opportunity for the USL and Northeast Florida. We know the incredible sports fans of Jacksonville and the First Coast will really support their pro soccer club and make it their own. Ricky Caplin, Tim Tebow, Steve Livingstone and Tony Allegretti form a world-class leadership team with deep ties to this community and unmatched vision. The club’s relationship with Florida Elite Soccer Academy provides myriad advantages on both the community and soccer sides which positions the club for long-term success.” 

JAXUSL Lead Investor Ricky Caplin: “Our region has a rich and storied tradition of sporting excellence, from the gridiron to the island green 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 made up of a diverse and international citizenry, which has a deep appreciation for the game of soccer. I’m thrilled to be partnering with Tim, Steve and Tony to bring the USL to our wonderful First Coast community and we look forward to identifying the right location, facilities and partners to make this dream a reality.” 

USL Super League and W League President Amanda Vandervort: “The USL is dedicated to creating thousands of opportunities in the women's game by building a complete youth-to-pro pathway. Jacksonville-based Florida Elite, which competed in the USL W League this season, demonstrates how strong the existing soccer infrastructure in Northeast Florida is. JAXUSL will provide girls and women with the opportunity to train in a world-class environment and compete in front of thousands of fans right here in their hometown.” 

JAXUSL Supporting Owner Tim Tebow: “This is a fantastic and exciting development for our community here on the First Coast. I’m thrilled to be part of the new ownership group that seeks to bring some incredible pro teams and world-class facilities to our area that will be accessible to the whole community. I’d like to thank Ricky, Steve and Tony for presenting this opportunity, which I look forward to being directly involved in, and with my Foundation.” 

Florida Elite President Steven Mail: “We’re extremely excited to join with the JAXUSL ownership group in the further development of soccer in Northeast Florida. We look forward to continuing our already established partnership with the USL. We are delighted to work with Ricky, Steve and their team to build a strong local pathway to professional soccer for our players.”  

JAXUSL Founder and Managing Partner Steve Livingstone: “Today’s announcement has been years in the making, and we’re delighted to finally bring both men’s and women’s USL professional soccer to the First Coast. Soccer fandom in Northeast Florida, in terms of both participation and viewership, is off the charts and we are thrilled to be able to finally satisfy our region’s desire for not only the return of professional soccer but the creation and development, through the USL and Florida Elite, of a pathway to pro soccer for the young people of our region.” 

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