Jeramey Jannene

Proposed Iron District Soccer Team Would Start Play in 2025

Naming contest underway. Team would compete in USL Championship League.

By - Oct 19th, 2022 05:02 pm
Iron District stadium rendering. Rendering by Kahler Slater.

Iron District stadium rendering. Rendering by Kahler Slater.

A men’s professional soccer team proposed for Milwaukee now has a start date and a league. A name, and many other components, remain to be finalized.

The outdoor team, which would play at the proposed 8,000-seat Iron District stadium in the southwest corner of Downtown, would compete in the USL Championship league. The professional league is one level below Major League Soccer. Milwaukee Pro Soccer, as the local organization is currently known, would launch the team in 2025.

“This is an announcement we’ve been working towards behind the scenes for years, and I’m thrilled to bring high-level professional soccer to the city of Milwaukee,” said Jim Kacmarcik, chairman and CEO of Kacmarcik Enterprises and the head of the ownership group, in a statement. “Major cities have professional soccer clubs, and we’re proud to deliver that to Milwaukee – a premier sports city with a rich soccer culture that runs deep throughout our community.”

The league currently has 27 teams, including nearby teams in Indianapolis, Detroit, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Memphis. A Queens, New York team is to join in 2023 and a Des Moines team in 2025. Four teams owned by MLS teams as part of that league’s second-level (MLS Next PRO) are expected to exit the league at the end of the season.

Kacmarcik already owns one professional team, Forward Madison FC. That team competes in USL League One, the next level below USL Championship.

“Based on what we’ve seen in Madison, we know that Jim Kacmarcik and Milwaukee Pro Soccer will ensure the new club is a top-tier soccer organization, providing best-in-class facilities for its players, a world-class soccer experience for its fans, and a commitment to having a positive community impact,” said USL COO and chief real estate officer Justin Papadakis in a statement.

A “Name the Team” campaign is now underway for people to suggest a name, colors and crest.

Based on discussions with sources, the wording of a May announcement and available information, Urban Milwaukee reported on May 20 that USL Championship was the likely league for the team.

The team’s ownership group will eventually need to pay an entrance fee to the league. Forbes reported that the one-time fee had climbed from $1 million in 2015 to $12 million in 2020. Entry fees into Major League Soccer, which also includes bigger stadiums, are over $200 million.

The stadium, which would include artificial turf, would also be used by Marquette University‘s soccer and lacrosse teams. A 140-room upscale hotel is planned with a restaurant and bar overlooking the stadium. The Pabst Theater Group and national promoter Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) would operate a 3,500-person indoor concert venue.

One key piece of the puzzle remains: how to pay for it. Urban Milwaukee has previously reported that the stadium component will need a subsidy.

S.R. Mills of Bear Development, the master developer of the district, said demolition of the former Ramada Hotel and construction of a 99-unit affordable apartment building would take place this year, but those projects bookend the entertainment complex. Until recently, Marquette University had owned much of the site, running along W. Michigan St. from N. 6th St. to Interstate 43. The rear of the site backups up to Interstate 794 and the Marquette Interchange.

“It was important to us to sell this land for the Iron District MKE to a strategic partner that would revitalize this high-profile corridor within Milwaukee’s Westown neighborhood,” said Marquette President Mike Lovell. “Together with Milwaukee Pro Soccer, the USL, Kacmarick Enterprises and Bear Development, we are accomplishing that.”

The Milwaukee Wave, an indoor team, continues to play at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. The last professional outdoor team, the Milwaukee Rampage, dissolved in 2002.

Stadium Renderings


Site Photos

Iron District Renderings

Apartment Building Rendering and Site Plan

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3 thoughts on “Proposed Iron District Soccer Team Would Start Play in 2025”

  1. Polaris says:

    Thanks for this report on the announcement, Jeramey. Between the coverage I’ve seen that belabors that this “won’t be Major League Soccer” (mentioned 3x in 60 seconds on WISN-TV without mentioning that is IS professional soccer, and in the actual Business Journal headline) to goofy comments like “Rumor has it [the announcement] is about a new soccer team” (on TMJ4), your coverage is optimistic, realistic and comprehensive.

    I haven’t seen or heard anybody but you call out in this news cycle that a public subsidy will be sought. Of course, this is par for the course, these days, and I won’t argue the rightness or wrongness of it. Kacmarcik does seem to have bona fides and quite a few people rooting for this project. However, a quick online search will uncover both the USL’s desire to expand rapidly and also that not all announced cities have found getting their subsidies as easy as hoped.

    This is an exciting development and I hope both the team and the Iron District become great successes!

  2. Gordon Skare says:

    Does this project intend to have north 7th street closed south of Michigan St.??

  3. David Coles says:

    Go with natural grass!

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