Updated: Park City to get elite amateur soccer team
The beautiful game is on its way to Park City.
Come May, Dozier Field is set to serve as the home turf of Park City Red Wolves SC, a U23 team in the United Soccer League’s elite amateur League Two.
The squad will act as a farm team for the Chattanooga Red Wolves SC, a professional League One team that competes out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Both teams are owned by Parkite Bob Martino, who is also starting a League Two expansion team in Dalton, Georgia, for the 2019 season.
The season will run from early May to mid-July – deliberately timed to align with collegiate summer breaks, allowing the team to recruit players from colleges. League Two also won’t interfere with collegiate eligibility.
Martino said Red Wolves SC is looking to draw players from club teams at the University of Utah, Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University, as well as from the NCAA program at Westminster College and a sprinkling of Park City athletes.
“I’m hopeful that, over the years, we’ll even have standouts from Park City High School – that we can pull a player or two who can participate in the games,” he said. “The other big pools will be from the local colleges.”
Recruits from out of state are also a possibility.
Martino said he was in discussion with several local coaches and administrators for positions with the Park City Red Wolves, but couldn’t release names yet.
The Park City Red Wolves will compete in League Two’s Mountain Division against Albuquerque Sol FC, Colorado Pride Switchbacks U23 of Colorado Springs, and Ogden City SC, which was formed last year. It will also play exhibition games against non-conference teams, though that schedule has not yet been announced.
“We are pleased to have Bob and his team join League Two in 2019,” said USL League Two Vice President Joel Nash in a press release. “We believe that Park City will be a tremendous addition to the Mountain Division, and will provide a robust product both on and off the field of play.”
Martino told The Park Record he has been thinking of starting a team in Park City for a few years, after watching his older sons, Tony, 24, and Mitch, 22, play the game as Miners.
“Having our older boys go through and play soccer, it really hooked me,” he said. “I loved the game, and loved watching friends and family and our children play it. It’s just a tremendous sport, and it’s become one of my favorite sports to enjoy.”
League Two has more than 70 teams across the U.S. and Canada, all of which are amateur teams. The league brands itself as a path for North America’s aspiring professional soccer players, which Martino fully embraces.
“It’s a great feeder for professional soccer,” he said. “Kids who want to play through the system can see and have a defined path that was really lacking in years past. Hopefully we can deliver that clarity, and a very professional-type experience that local fans can take in, and be able to ride the local bus or walk over and take in a game at Dozier on a beautiful summer night.”
According to the USL website, 81 percent of selections in the 2018 MLS Superdraft were athletes from League Two, and more than 10 Major League Soccer teams have League Two team partnerships. The Chattanooga Red Wolves are not associated with an MLS team.
The Park City team plans to draw revenue from merchandise, local sponsors, concession sales, and modestly priced tickets (Ogden SC, for example, charges $5).
Martino said Park City Red Wolves SC will receive support from the Chattanooga office for certain services, like media and branding, however, the team will have a local office in Park City based near Deer Valley Plaza.
Nearly a dozen Park City and Summit County officials sat on a public panel Wednesday to outline the way forward on wildfire management and to answer questions from residents.