By the end of March 2016, the Rio Grande Valley should have a soccer-specific stadium for its professional soccer team – the Rio Grande Valley Football Club. The club will serve as the hybrid affiliate of the Houston Dynamo Major League Soccer team.
Officials from the United Soccer League awarded its 25th team to Alonzo Cantu, the owner of the RGV Vipers at an event Wednesday. The USL is an independent soccer league that stretches from coast to coast and into Canada. Some of the USL teams have been playing for 20 years.
“We are thrilled to be coming to the Rio Grande Valley, to be coming to one of the fastest growing markets in the United States,” USL President Jake Edwards said. “The 1.3 million people here have a passionate and avid fanbase. You have a lot of children and adults watching and playing the game here.”
Recruiting will begin in the coming days. The bulk of the players will come from the Dynamo academy and players in the existing league, but local standouts and potentially players from across the border also have the opportunity to be recruited. The Houston team is a two-time MLS champion.
The 94,000-seat stadium will be located at the corner of Raul Longoria Road and Freddy Gonzalez Drive in Edinburg. There will be practice fields, a park for people to visit throughout the week and a picnic area.
Edwards said he hopes all 25 teams will have soccer-specific stadiums by the end of the decade.
“It’s an ambitious project, but it’s critical to the future success of the growth of the sport in our country,” the USL president said. “That teams build appropriate stadiums and exciting venues that increase the match day experience with supporters has really become a cultural hub of centering the community.”
Opening day is not yet finalized, but Edwards said they are aiming for the end of March because that is around the time the season starts. It ends anywhere from September through October.
Rio Grande Valley Football Club officials are looking for a team name and ask that the community go to the website to suggest names and later vote. Logos will be released in the coming months and ticket deposits are already being accepted.
“One of the things that’s important to us is that our players perform under pressure,” Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti said. “What we think brings pressure is packed houses, full of fans, screaming and yelling, cheering and booing. So we look forward to the wonderful support that your community is going to provide RGVFC.”