BUFFALO, N.Y. – An ownership group led by real estate developer John H. McClutchy Jr. has entered into a conditional agreement with the United Soccer League to bring a USL Championship club to Buffalo, New York, opening the door to the City of Good Neighbors becoming home to professional soccer early in the next decade.
The awarding of the franchise is contingent upon the construction of a soccer-specific stadium in Buffalo, and completion of economic feasibility studies. McClutchy is working with his long-term, local business partner, Dennis M. Penman of Penman Development Partners to identify and acquire a site to accommodate the stadium development.
“Buffalo is no stranger to the beautiful game,” said McClutchy. “Youth soccer is especially strong, with over 10,000 registered players and a supporter culture that has a great foundation with its American Outlaw chapter. When you combine this with Buffalo’s vibrant downtown community and its growing millennial population, the time is right to get the ball rolling on bringing a USL Championship club to this great city.”
Outreach by the development team to various community leaders, sport organizers and soccer enthusiasts is underway and expected to grow in the coming months.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for the City of Buffalo and the entire Western New York Region. We have a vibrant soccer community and some of the nation's most avid sports fans,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. “My administration looks forward to working with John McClutchy, Dennis Penman and JHM Sports Enterprises as they explore the feasibility of bringing a USL Championship club to the City of Buffalo, and we welcome the chance to help them identify potential sites that would be suited for this development project.”
Through his organization, JHM Sports Enterprises, McClutchy is working together with Penman Development Partners to identify potential sites for the construction of a 10,000-seat soccer stadium. In addition, a series of economic feasibility studies are underway for the project with results expected to be released in December.
“As a Western New York native and someone who has had the privilege to invest in the greater Buffalo area, I understand the positive impact a stadium project like this can have on the region’s economy,” said Penman. “It can be a significant community asset, generating jobs, boosting tourism and rallying civic pride.” “The sky’s the limit for what this potential stadium and franchise can achieve.”
If awarded the franchise, the group is targeting the 2023 USL Championship season for kickoff.
“The City of Good Neighbors speaks for itself. Buffalo is a tight-knit community and an exceptionally passionate and prideful sports town,” said USL Chief Operating Officer Justin Papadakis. “Like our league, Buffalo is growing and the prospect of contributing to that growth with a USL Championship club is exciting. We know that there’s a lot of work to be done before a franchise can become reality, but the opportunity to unite Buffalo and energize its soccer community around a professional club has great value for the city’s future.”