Milwaukee's pro soccer club had a home. Now it has a league.
When a new sports and entertainment district in downtown Milwaukee was announced in May, little was known about who would call the new arena home.
The vision became clearer Wednesday, when representatives officially announced the formation of a men's soccer club set to join the USL Championship — U.S. soccer's second-highest league — in 2025. A "name the team" campaign is already underway.
The announcement came at a tailgate-like party on the site of the future Iron District development, on a vacant lot at North 8th and West Michigan streets, near the Marquette Interchange. In May, Marquette University sold the 11 acres of land at the site to Kenosha-based Bear Development, which teamed up with Grafton-based Kacmarcik Enterprises on the proposal.
“This is an announcement we’ve been working towards behind the scenes for years, and I’m thrilled to bring high-level professional soccer to the city of Milwaukee,” said Jim Kacmarcik, Chairman and CEO of Kacmarcik Enterprises, which also owns Forward Madison, a third-tier soccer club playing in USL League One.
“This club, and the entire Iron District MKE project, share an ambitious vision of making a positive impact on the city of Milwaukee, and we can’t wait to get started," Kacmarcik added.
Plans for the district include an 8,000-seat outdoor stadium, a 3,500-seat indoor concert venue, a 140-room hotel, 99 multi-family residential housing units, retail and restaurants. Officials on Wednesday confirmed work has already begun, starting with demolition of the former Ramada Inn at 633 W. Michigan St. Multi-family housing will begin development later this year.
When opened, the stadium will also house both Marquette soccer and lacrosse programs. Kacmarcik vowed the field would be open to youth and community events as well.
The last time the city had a professional outdoor soccer franchise was 2002, the final season of the Milwaukee Rampage, which played at Uihlein Soccer Park as part of the now-defunct A-League.