Posted on: Wednesday, January 16, 2008
TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues announced Victoria, British Columbia as the first expansion team for the 2009 Premier Development League season. The launch of the Victoria Highlanders FC comes on the heels of the city’s successful service as one of the hosts of the U-20 FIFA World Cup and the announcement of the construction of a new westshore stadium, which was also unveiled today, scheduled to open in time for the first kick off.
The Highlanders, headed by majority owner Alex Campbell, will begin efforts immediately in building the team and its youth foundation in preparation for the 2009 campaign.
“We admire greatly what USL has built with their vertically-integrated model of youth, development and professional leagues and want to recreate that model, much as other USL clubs have done, right here in Victoria, where many players, parents and fans have long anticipated the launching of elite level competition,” said Campbell, a former Thrifty Foods executive and current CEO and Owner of La Collina Bakery. “We will be more than just a single team.”
“The PDL is a well established league in the US and Canada and we look forward to competing with veteran Northwest Division teams such as the Abbotsford Mariners, Cascade Surge and Yakima Reds among others, including the new Vancouver Whitecaps Residency program. We expect great rivalries, particularly with our Canadian counterparts. Our tremendous new playing facility will enhance the entertainment value for our fans and will attract quality players to the program.”
Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park, expanded for the U-20 FIFA World Cup, was home to six group play matches and a Round of 16-fixture for the tournament and drew sellout crowds of 11,500 for four of the six games and near sellouts in the other two. Teams featured in Victoria were Japan, Scotland, Nigeria, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic. In addition to the success of the tournament leading to
the interest in launching a USL team in the community, the city will also be committing to the construction of a new sporting facility that will be 3000-5000 seats in capacity at opening and expandable to 10,000.
“The city of Victoria and the greater island community has shown a hunger for the sport beyond the local recreational level and we are thrilled to help bring the game to a community long overdue for USL soccer,” said USL Executive Vice President and COO Tim Holt. “The Highlanders have a long-term vision for the community we believe will be successful.”