New Mexico United Prepares for Inaugural Season in the USL

by | Nov 8, 2018 | Marc Viquez, Soccer, USL |

The USL capped off an exciting season with the USL Cup last night in Louisville and is looking forward to next season when it will be rebrand itself as “USL Championship”. In the process it will welcome seven new teams to the fold to that will boost membership to 36 when the season begins in April. One of those new teams will be based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and its mission is to bring the excitement of soccer to a passionate fan base that finally has a professional team since 1996.

The New Mexico United had already sold 1,000 season tickets before the announcement of its identity and logo last month. The black and yellow shield crest is simple and features four slanted lines that are meant to honor the Zia symbol that is on the state flag. The name United is meant to “convey the strength and unity of the state”.

“New Mexico is a soccer state. No question,” said club owner Peter Trevisani. “That being said, we have never had a professional soccer team that has played at this level before. So in addition to awareness and excitement, we are also providing education on the USL Championship and how pro soccer is so different from traditional minor league sport in America.”

The United will operate at Isotopes Park, a Triple-A ballpark that is home to the city’s minor league baseball club. The capacity is 13,000 for baseball, but will probably be tailored from 7,500 to 10,000 for soccer matches. Trevisani thinks it’s “one of the best stadiums in the country” and he might be right, a recent Stadium Journey stated the following:

“Isotopes Park is a fabulous venue to take in a ballgame. The views are spectacular, the food is fabulous, the venue is top notch, and the individuals that present the game day experience are the best around. Making a special trip to Isotopes Park is a must for any baseball fan.”

Based on renderings, the pitch will run from the first-base line to the left field foul line with the majority of the third base seating area behind the goal line. Home plate will be just outside the playing area and the outfield grass area will be somewhat distant from the pitch. Trevisani added that the club would love to have a stadium of its own somewhere down the road, but is confident that the baseball stadium will be an ideal venue for soccer matches.

“The atmosphere at the stadium will be electric. Going to a soccer game is an immersive experience, not passive. The fans and supports are not just watching, they are part of the experience and have a major impact on the outcome on and off the field. Fans should expect to experience something they have never experienced before inside of New Mexico. The singing, the smoke, the flags, the chants, all of it.”

An artist's version of what the soccer pitch will look like at Isotopes Park

An artist’s version of what the soccer pitch will look like at Isotopes Park, Photo Courtesy of Randy Harrison, Albuquerque Journal.

The stadium will also provide views of the Sandia Mountains in the background to the east along with similar food and beverage options that are found at baseball games. The ballpark is known for regional flavors that include the Chili Relleno Burger, Green Chili Cheeseburgers and Dogs, and the New Mexicago Dog that is topped with pickled cactus, fried jalapeño caps, pico de gallo, green chili mustard, and cumin seeds.

The United will be joined next year with other six other franchises: Memphis and El Paso will both play in Triple-A ballparks, Hartford and Birmingham will renovate existing soccer venues, and Loudoun and Austin will debut in brand new facilities. The objective is clear with all franchises: create the environment and the crowds will come.

“We are seeing a lot of macro tailwinds in general with soccer in the USA and in particular with the USL,” added Trevisani. “Overall, soccer viewership in the USA is trending up. You can now find USL teams in large, midsize and even smaller markets where the lack of professional sports teams has created a gap. We are filling that gap in New Mexico.”

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