(BPRW) CONNECTICUT AWARDED MLS NEXT PRO EXPANSION TEAM | Black PR Wire, Inc.

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(BPRW) CONNECTICUT AWARDED MLS NEXT PRO EXPANSION TEAM | Black PR Wire, Inc.


(BPRW) CONNECTICUT AWARDED MLS NEXT PRO EXPANSION TEAM

André Swanston, Bronx-born Alpha Phi Alpha brother, is principal owner

(Black PR Wire) BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – In a groundbreaking moment for the soccer fans of Connecticut, MLS NEXT Pro has awarded Connecticut Sports Group (CTSG) the fifth independent MLS NEXT Pro expansion team – Connecticut United Football Club (CT United FC).  CT United FC is set to join MLS NEXT Pro which includes 27 MLS owned clubs and four recently announced independent clubs. The team plans to play in a new waterfront soccer stadium in Connecticut’s largest city, Bridgeport.

“As CT United FC embarks on its MLS NEXT Pro journey, I want to extend deep gratitude to the incredible fans, community leaders, and government officials who have embraced our vision. I am confident that, united, Connecticut can compete against anyone,” said André Swanston, Founding Partner of CTSG. “We are committed to building the infrastructure – from a free youth academy to a state-of-the-art stadium – needed to propel Connecticut to the highest levels of soccer.”

Connecticut holds the distinction as the largest media market in the country without a sports team in MLS, NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL. Geographically positioned at the convergence of the NYC tristate and New England, Connecticut has firmly established itself as a vibrant hub for soccer. Connecticut is consistently among the leading markets for soccer TV viewership, with one of the highest engagement levels of any market in America without an MLS team. Connecticut fans, who already spend $1.1 billion a year on sports tickets, merchandise and subscriptions (13% more per fan than the average American) will soon have a team of their own. 

“André has a proven track record of building transformational companies and valuing community development,” said Charles Altchek, President of MLS NEXT Pro. “His leadership, entrepreneurship, and determination will be key to the success of the Club, and we are thrilled to partner with André, his wife Michelle, and the CTSG team. Today’s announcement marks a historic milestone as André takes the helm as one of our youngest club owners, breaking barriers as one of only a few Black principal owners in US sports history.”

The City of Bridgeport’s Planning and Zoning Commission granted Connecticut Sports Group unanimous approval to develop a waterfront soccer stadium and mixed-use destination. This transformative project encompasses a mix of residences, retail and dining space, community greens, a river walk, and a hotel. The revitalization of this dormant property represents a significant investment in economic development for Bridgeport and the entire state. According to the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, this development is expected to generate $4 billion in economic impact over the next 25 years, and nearly $1 billion in additional state and local tax revenue. Average annual employment will increase by over 1,000 full-time jobs over this period.

“Bridgeport is in the midst of a renaissance, rebranding from an industrial city to now the capital of arts and entertainment of Connecticut. I am proud to announce that MLS NEXT Pro will join that landscape in providing entertainment opportunities for Bridgeport residents and the region at large. I also applaud the major investments that Mr. Swanston has made in Bridgeport and his vision to bring professional soccer to our city,” stated Mayor Joseph Ganim.

“The arrival of an MLS NEXT Pro expansion team to Connecticut will be a tremendous opportunity to foster talent, invigorate the economy, and showcase our state on the national stage,” said Rep. Jim Himes. “Local sports have a unique ability to bring together a community, and I look forward to cheering on CT United FC as they represent the great state of Connecticut!”

“Bringing an MLS NEXT Pro expansion team to the state of Connecticut is a tremendous opportunity to ignite the spirit of our communities, foster local talent, and showcase our state on the national stage,” said Governor Ned Lamont. “This exciting endeavor will invigorate our economy, inspire our youth, and unite our diverse soccer loving population.”

ABOUT CONNECTICUT UNITED FC

Founded in 2024 and owned by Connecticut Sports Group, Connecticut United Football Club (CT United FC) is the fifth independent professional men’s soccer club in MLS NEXT Pro. CT United FC is targeting a 2025 launch and will call a new state-of-the-art stadium in Bridgeport its home. CT United FC embodies the indomitable spirit of our state, carrying forward Connecticut’s rich tradition of sports excellence. For updates and more information, visit www.ctunited.com or follow us on social media: @ctunited on X and TikTok, @ctutdfc on Instagram.

ABOUT CONNECTICUT SPORTS GROUP

Connecticut Sports Group’s (CTSG) vision is to create unforgettable experiences that inspire communities. We will own and operate professional sports franchises and state-of-the-art venues, utilizing cutting-edge technology and data to deliver superior service. Through our innovative approach and unwavering commitment to excellence, we aim to revolutionize the sports and entertainment industry and bring diverse communities together.

ABOUT MLS NEXT PRO

Launched in 2022 by Major League Soccer, MLS NEXT Pro is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States and Canada that completes the pro player pathway from MLS NEXT to MLS first teams. MLS NEXT Pro continues to grow the game through innovation and diversity, bringing professional soccer to new communities and creating opportunities both on and off the field. MLS NEXT Pro will celebrate its third season in 2024 with 29 teams, 27 MLS-affiliated and two independent, Carolina Core FC and Chattanooga FC. Additional MLS-affiliated and independent clubs will join in the years ahead, including Cleveland, Jacksonville Armada FC and Connecticut United FC. The majority of MLS NEXT Pro’s matches are broadcast on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV as part of the groundbreaking partnership between Apple and MLS. For more information about MLS NEXT Pro, visit mlsnextpro.com

Photo: From left to right – Brook Gardiner, SVP and General Counsel, MLS NEXT Pro, Sola Winley, EVP Office of the Commissioner and Chief DEI Officer, André Swanston, Founding Partner, Connecticut Sports Group, Michelle Swanston, Partner, Connecticut Sports Group, Ali Curtis, SVP of Competition & Operations, MLS NEXT Pro, Charles Altchek, President, MLS NEXT Pro & EVP, MLS

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