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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Aug. 30, 202205:05 PM EST

Investors including Tim Tebow bringing professional soccer back to Jacksonville

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The United Soccer League announced Aug. 30 that the JAXUSL club will start play in 2025 and develop a stadium and training facility.

The United Soccer League announced Aug. 30 that JAXUSL, a Jacksonville-based group of investors and executives that includes football player and philanthropist Tim Tebow, has acquired the rights to a USL Championship expansion franchise.

The league’s news release said JAXUSL’s lead investor is Ricky Caplin, a Northeast Florida investor and principal of Caplin Ventures. 

Tebow is a supporting owner of the club, “bringing experience as a professional athlete, investor and philanthropist.”

The release said professional soccer executive Steve Livingstone and Jacksonville executive Tony Allegretti are founders and managing partners.

They will oversee the day-to-day operations of JAXUSL in establishing and growing the USL expansion club. 

The news release said the group intends to start play in 2025 as the first club in Northeast Florida to feature both men’s and women’s professional soccer. 

JAXUSL also has formed a partnership with Florida Elite Soccer Academy, which the league called “one of the largest and most successful youth soccer organizations in the United States.” 

Based in St. Johns County, Florida Elite includes more than 10,000 members throughout Northeast Florida, and fields pre-professional teams in USL League Two and USL W League. Steven Mail is president of Florida Elite.

The release said the expansion club will be among the first in the United States to offer a complete pathway from youth to pro for men and women.  

The USL Championship features 27 professional clubs across the United States with plans to add expansion teams in Iowa, Rhode Island, Louisiana and more. 

The release said the USL Super League will bring professional women’s soccer to new markets and create opportunities for women on and off the field.  

The USL Championship team intends to kick off in 2025, contingent on securing a home venue on the First Coast for the club. 

“JAXUSL is actively engaged with local stakeholders and has identified multiple potential locations for the development of a 15,000-capacity stadium and a world-class training facility,” the release said.

Details about the stadium and training facility will be announced in the coming months, it said.

Northeast Florida soccer fans will be invited to help develop the club’s brand through community consultation, town halls and a naming competition. The release said fans can register their interest in the club with a $25 season ticket deposit at the club’s official website, jaxusl.com. 

USL COO and Chief Real Estate Officer Justin Papadakis and USL Super League and W League President Amanda Vandervort joined the JAXUSL leaders at TPC Sawgrass for the Aug. 30 announcement.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the new ownership group that seeks to bring some incredible pro teams and world-class facilities to our area that will be accessible to the whole community,” Tebow said in the release.

Tebow, 35, a Jacksonville resident, was a star Nease High School football player in St. Johns County before signing with the University of Florida. The two-time national champion and Heisman Trophy winner also is a football analyst for the SEC Network.

He played three years in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, New York Jets and New England Patriots. Tebow signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a tight end in 2021 and attended training camp, but was released before the season began. 

Tebow is the founder and chair of the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Jacksonville Daily Record news partner News4Jax reported Aug. 30 that Northeast Florida has not had a professional soccer team since the Jacksonville Armada transitioned to a team made up of all college-aged players in the National Premier Soccer League. 

Before joining the NPSL, the Armada competed in the North American Soccer League, then the second-division league. But the NASL ceased operations in 2018, forcing the Armada to seek a new league.

News4Jax said the new USL franchise is not affiliated with the Armada.

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