TAMPA, Fla. – Operating on the Virginia Peninsula, Lionsbridge FC will be the fifth expansion team announced for the upcoming 2018 Premier Development League season, bringing a national soccer presence to the Hampton Roads market.
“Working with Lionsbridge FC, we are excited to build a local PDL community in the wonderful Commonwealth of Virginia,” said PDL Co-Director Mike Panter. “The United Soccer League has had great success with the Richmond Kickers in the state, and we hope to mirror that in the PDL by providing a professional environment for the continued development for many talented young athletes.”
Lionsbridge FC is being built from scratch to become an ambassador of soccer on the Virginia Peninsula. The club is making itself available to every local youth club to help support their individual missions and to grow the game in the community. The team will provide affordable family entertainment with a local flavor that is distinct to the Virginia Peninsula.
“We are thrilled to build Lionsbridge FC for the community we love and to provide a platform for players to take the next step in their soccer careers,” Club Chairman and Co-Founder Mike Vest said. “We are proud to represent the Peninsula in the PDL, which has clearly proven itself to be the top flight of amateur soccer in North America. And we’re pleased to host our events in a tremendous, first-class facility like POMOCO Stadium at Christopher Newport University.”
“It is truly an honor to have the Lionsbridge FC soccer team come to Newport News,” said Mayor McKinley Price. “I am ecstatic about the community benefits that will come from having a team to call our own. Sports are a unifying force in communities, so I look forward to this great opportunity to help bring us all together.”
Lionsbridge FC becomes the fifth expansion team announced ahead of the 2018 PDL season, joining a to-be-named Birmingham franchise, the AHFC Royals, Lansing United and Corpus Christi FC as previously announced teams.
“Having worked closely with Mike, Kevin and Dan for some time, I’m very excited for Lionsbridge FC to become the Peninsula’s marquee entertainment destination and success story,” said PDL Director of Business Development Joel Nash. “With the talents that their leadership brings, the local pride that embodies their brand and the environment that POMOCO Stadium will provide, fans of Lionsbridge FC should be excited.”
The team will play home matches at POMOCO Stadium at Christopher Newport University, a tremendous, first-class facility that will provide a fantastic match-day environment for fans. The stadium has a natural grass surface, a 4,200 seating capacity, HD video board and high-speed fiber connectivity that the club will utilize to stream all of its home games.
“We are pleased to be able to partner with Lionsbridge FC and provide them with an opportunity to bring tremendous amateur soccer athletes to the Peninsula,” said Christopher Newport University Director of Athletics Kyle McMullin. “The entire Lionsbridge FC organization will represent our community with class and will add enthusiasm and energy to Newport News during the summer months.”
“The impact of sports on a community is undeniable and Lionsbridge FC will undoubtedly provide a positive impact,” said Hampton Roads Sports Commission Executive Director Wes Hall. “Lionsbridge FC will represent more than just a great entertainment option. The club will serve as a connection for people of the Peninsula and the entire Hampton Roads region.”
In June, more than 600 Peninsula residents voted on social media among three options to determine the Lionsbridge FC crest. The fans’ choice integrates four identifying features of the Virginia Peninsula: the shield reflects the area’s importance to our nation’s national defense, the Lion is a reproduction of the iconic Lion statues within the Mariners’ Museum Park that have served as a gathering place for our community since 1923, the NN18 represents the founding location and first year of club competition and the blue lines represent the James and York Rivers, two of the bodies of water that define the Peninsula.
The Lionsbridge FC ownership group consists of Peninsula business leaders Mike Vest, Kevin Joyce and Dan Chenoweth. Vest is a 17-year veteran of the sports industry, previously serving in senior-level roles at Big Ten Network, Atlantic 10 Conference, IMG and Wake Forest University. Joyce is a financial adviser for Financial Services Group, and Chenoweth is a partner at the accounting firm PB Mares. Joyce serve as Vice-Chair, and Chenoweth serves as Chair of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
A part of the United Soccer Leagues, which also operates the Division II USL, the newly-announced Division III league and Super Y League, the PDL has served as the proven stepping-stone for aspiring professionals.
Nearly 70 percent of all MLS SuperDraft selections since 2010 have PDL experience, including a total of 59 alums chosen in 2017. Among the many players to have played in the PDL before making their professional debuts include Newcastle United FC defender DeAndre Yedlin, 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris, 2016 MLS Defender of the Year Matt Hedges and U.S. Men’s National Team members Darlington Nagbe, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream.