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Sit down with the president of Super League Tampa Bay

Christina Unkel digs into the development process for the Tampa Bay area’s first women’s professional soccer team.

WISe event - Christina.jpg

Christina Unkel speaking at WISE (Women in Sports + Events) Tampa Bay event.

Photo via Super League Tampa Bay

Table of Contents

Last week, we told you that the highly anticipated USL Super League Tampa Bay club is planning to build a practice field in Ybor City. Now, we’re digging into even more development deets.

We spoke with the club’s president Christina Unkel to ask a few questions about the inaugural season + the building process so far.

Can you walk us through where Super League Tampa Bay is right now in the development process?

“We are finishing up and finalizing the naming and the branding with hopefully a brand reveal in the fall. We all always laugh because it’s the first question we get, ‘what’s the real name?’ because USL Super League Tampa would be a really long one.”

Let’s talk staffing

“Also happening this fall is staffing up a little bit more of our front of house, operational teams. We were blessed to be able to onboard Denise Schilte-Brown, who is the current head coach of USF women’s soccer team who will be finishing at the end of the season, her 17th year at the helm of that program that she has turned into an incredible national program of DI soccer.”

Scouting

“We’ve already started the scouting process of identifying the core players who will fill the roster. Scouting has already occurred which I know may seem really early for some people, but when you’re fielding a team on August of 2024, you obviously have to have professional contracts signed, secured, and dealt with.

It’s exciting to be able to start building up the sporting strategy at the same time this fall so that we can reveal ideally, spring of next year, who our players are...So that the community knows who they’re getting behind and empowering, not just naming and branding but the actual women that are going to be representative of the club. And hopefully younger girls see themselves in these individuals as well.”

Stadium

“The final stadium will be eventually here in the urban-core area, ideally near Ybor City, which is what we call HQ. But the permanent stadium won’t be for a bit. We are currently looking at a couple of different venues for a temporary stadium for the first year, ideally in the urban-core market area, so that the individuals can know where they would be going to for those games. That’s another thing we’re looking to hopefully shore up here in the fall so that we can start selling tickets in early spring of next year.”

Can you say anything about the potential options?

“The most we can say at this point is ideally we’d like to stay in the urban core area of Tampa Bay. But we’re looking as far down south as .. Al Lang Stadium all the way up to ... North Tampa.

Everyone always kind of thinks, ‘So you can kind of just throw it up anywhere.’ And the reality is there’s minimum qualifications. The stadium that we would look for in a temporary stadium is ... a minimum ability to seat 5,000. A full actual stadium, not surrounded by a track, obviously lighting and scoreboards and all that good stuff, the stuff that a professional athlete would play on. At the moment, there’s a lot of conversations being had, but nothing really solidified at this point.

Can you get into where you’d be recruiting from?

“Historically, a professional soccer team would recruit merely from the college draft. It’s really where the majority of the opportunity of bulking up your team is. The beauty of now here being in 2023-24 is there’s a lot more talent and ability in different avenues. Yes, those who are graduating from college naturally, but importantly too is potential international transfers.

One thing that is extremely exciting about women’s professional soccer, there’s gonna be opportunities for those who might have traditionally have gone to college who might be good enough to go into the pros. We’ll be looking at young talent as well that we can identify and some homegrown players to grow with our team.”

🔔 Stay in the loop

Register to become a supporter on the website + follow social media channels to be the first to see announcements. The team hopes to celebrate its new name and brand sometime this fall. Never fear, we’ll keep you posted.

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