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United Soccer League VP says he is serious about bringing pro soccer to Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- The United Soccer League will launch a Division III men's professional league in 2019. Vice President of the league, Steven Short, thinks Huntsville could be a perfect home for a team.

"So for us, it's serious. We've been there twice. We are currently working through some phases," Short said. "I wish I could share with you who we're talking with right now, but I can't. But there are some serious conversations about bringing the team to town."

He said the city's existing sports facilities, like the state championship fields and the vacant baseball stadium, put Huntsville high on their list. He also said the proximity to the other USL teams in Nashville and Birmingham could create some great local competition.

"Which is a phenomenal opportunity to work inside the same system for potential local rivalries, which I know already exist between the cities," Short said. "But maybe even some developmental or exhibition opportunities to have a nice little I-65 rivalry, maybe we could find a good trophy for that as well."

While Huntsville may be a great fit, the team would still need an owner. The United States Soccer Federation requires a primary owner to have a 35 percent or more interest in the team, and have a net worth of $10 million. Short said he has his own requirements.

"We're looking for someone that understands Huntsville. We love ownership with local ties," Short said. "We want to make sure they can partner with the city and work with the city to drive tourism, deliver economic impact, and increase the quality of life."

He said that the Division III league process started about two and a half years ago and had identified Huntsville as a target market even then.

As for when we will know if a team is coming to the Rocket City, Short says we'll know soon. "You'll definitely hear some news from the league in the beginning of 2018, and as we continue working in Huntsville hopefully we'll have that news real soon."