Tampa Bay’s new professional women’s soccer team will compete at the highest level in the United States after the U.S. Soccer Federation approved the USL Super League’s Division I sanctioning application.
“This is a tremendous moment for the USL Super League and for women’s sports,” USL Super League President Amanda Vandervort said Friday in a statement. “Receiving Division I sanctioning further showcases the work that our ownership groups, our clubs, and the league are doing to create a professional environment for top-level talent to compete.
“This is a crucial step toward realizing our vision to be a global leader in women’s soccer on and off the field.”
The USL Super League will kick off its inaugural season in August with clubs in eight markets across the United States, including Tampa Bay. Others are slated to join in subsequent seasons.
Tampa Bay’s team chose the name Tampa Bay Sun FC during a community event in November in Ybor City in which it unveiled its name, logo and colors.
“Congratulations to the USL Super League on receiving its sanctioning as a Division I professional women’s soccer league,” U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement. “The USL Super League is looking to grow the women’s game and to expand the opportunities for women to compete at the highest professional level. As with all our professional leagues, we look forward to collaborating with the USL Super League and extend our best wishes to the clubs as they gear up for the upcoming season this August.”
Tampa Bay Sun FC will play its first seasons in an upgraded and expanded stadium along the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa that it will share with Blake High School while it searches for a permanent home.
Construction on more than $6 million in upgrades is scheduled to begin next week to expand seating to host more than 5,000 fans, add new facilities for athletes and concessions, and install an advanced scoreboard along with FIFA-approved turf.
The team will be coached by longtime USF women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown, who has begun to build a roster of players. The process of announcing the team will start early this year. The team will report for training early this summer at its facility in Ybor City.
Local business leaders Darryl Shaw, David Laxer and Jeff Fox serve as co-owners of the team.
The team is accepting deposits for season tickets at tampabaysunfc.com. The deposit for the club’s August 2024 debut is $24 per ticket. Team apparel is now available online at the same website.