Charlotte is getting another professional soccer team. Stumptown Athletic is scheduled begin playing this fall in a new men's league at the third level of U.S. soccer.
The first game is schedule in September for Stumptown Athletic, one of 10 founding teams in the National Independent Soccer Association. Others will be in markets such as San Diego, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia.
The new club draws its name from the history of Matthews, where it will be based. The town once was called Stumptown because of all the trees cut in its early years. President and General Manager Casey Carr said they're hoping to build what he calls a "hyperlocal" fan base in south Charlotte and surrounding communities.
"What we're doing is focusing a lot of our effort from a fan perspective kind of in our local community, and then driving, kind of creating bands that go out from there," Carr said.
The National Independent Soccer Association will play two levels below Major League Soccer, and one below the United Soccer League, where Charlotte's other pro soccer team, the Charlotte Independence, plays.
Carr said the new league is pursuing an open model, instead of what he calls the "closed" model of other leagues. Clubs can join for a relatively low annual membership fee instead of the millions of dollars it costs up front for a franchise at a higher level. Carr says that's more like Europe and other countries.
"The global game of soccer is more of an open model, based more on sporting meritocracy and if you can build it and play and be successful, you can continue to grow," he said.
On its website, a slogan states the league's ambition: "Bringing pro soccer to every city in the U.S."
Carr said the team is well financed. The sports marketer and former college soccer player is a minority owner in a group led by Atlanta tax lawyer Chris Graham. They're currently recruiting players, who could come from the Division I college soccer programs in the area, including UNC Charlotte and Davidson College. Others will be recruited nationally and internationally.
The team budget for salaries will be in the range of $400,000 to $1 million annually, Carr said. The team would pay its expenses through ticket sales and business sponsorships.
Stumptown Athletic will play at various fields around Charlotte at first, and eventually hopes to make its home at Matthews Sportsplex.
Coaches could be announced in the next couple of weeks.
National Independent Soccer Association, www.nisaofficial.com
Stumptown Athletic, stumptownathletic.com