The United Soccer League (USL) has announced a new agreement with the USL Nola group, with the aim of launching a men’s expansion team by 2025 and a women’s team in Greater New Orleans.
Led by Warren Smith and Jamie Guin, the pair have met with community and soccer leaders over the last six months to identify potential stadium solutions for the teams’ home fixtures. The men’s and women’s teams will compete in the USL Championship and USL Super League respectively.
USL Nola is now looking to conduct further community research on areas such as the club’s identity, potential stadium locations and matchday experiences.
As part of further efforts, USL Nola will launch an outreach campaign to gain input from the community on the new club, and will host a series of fan engagement sessions.
Smith has already co-founded numerous professional sports teams and led Sacramento Republic FC and San Diego Loyal SC through their launches and first seasons in the men’s USL Championship.
Guin, who is from New Orleans, began his sports career in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the New Orleans Hornets and Pelicans. He went on to hold commercial roles in Major League Soccer (MLS) with the likes of Sporting Kansas City, Los Angeles FC (LAFC) and Columbus Crew.
Guin was also part of the commercial leadership team for two of the National Football League’s (NFL) recent West Coast projects, including the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers SoFi Stadium, and the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium.
“It’s no secret that New Orleans is primed, ready, and probably overdue for professional soccer,” said Justin Papadakis, chief operating officer and chief real estate officer at the USL.
“It’s a global destination with unmatched heritage, culture, and local pride – qualities that perfectly match a community-focused USL Championship club. Warren Smith and Jamie Guin are extraordinary, proven club builders, and we are excited to pursue their vision with USL Nola and the people of New Orleans.”
Guin added: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the efforts to bring professional soccer to the Crescent City.
“As someone who has been humbled and fortunate to grow up in the Gulf South region and work in the professional sports industry my entire career, this project inspires me personally and professionally.”
Last week, it was confirmed that a new USL League One expansion club, Santa Barbara Sky FC, will begin play in the division three league in 2024. The team revealed its new logo and colours on 12th July, and will be led by former Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore.