USL Soccer Team and ‘Right to Dream’ Academy Eyes Port Covington for Stadium and Campus

| July 7, 2022 | 0 Comments

The Right to Dream soccer academy, which has academies in Ghana and Denmark with another coming to Egypt, is considering Port Covington in South Baltimore as its next location. The academy would also include an approximately 10,000-seat stadium for a United Soccer League (USL) franchise.

Right to Dream was founded in 1999 in Ghana by England native and former Manchester United scout Tom Vernon. In 2021, Right to Dream formed a $100-million partnership with The Mansour Group, which is one of the largest companies headquartered in Egypt. Prior to that in 2015, Right to Dream acquired Danish Football Club FC Nordsjælland (FCN).

Right to Dream’s academy in Egypt will open next year and it will soon launch a professional women’s soccer team.

Right to Dream alumni have gone on to play on European teams such as Bologna, Ajax, Strasbourg, FCN, UC Sampdoria, and Brentford. Vernon told Forbes last year that Right to Dream looks to develop a career path for players in the academy “not quite good enough to turn pro.”

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott requested Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) to conduct a $62,000 study for the 10,000-seat stadium in Baltimore City. MSA Executive Vice President Gary McGuigan told Port Covington is the preferred site, but other sites could come up in the study. One third of the cost of the study will be covered by the city, one third by MSA, and one third by private sources.

Mayor Scott’s request was approved by the MSA board this week.

Right to Dream is asking for MSA to build and own the stadium. Right to Dream will privately build the academy that will include residential and school buildings and possibly additional fields, according to McGuigan. Right to Dream also has the rights to a USL team to use the stadium. The study will examine what other events could take place at the stadium.

USL’s Championship League is the second tier of professional outdoor soccer in the United States. Several former USL franchises have made the move to the top-tiered Major League Soccer (MLS).

McGuigan said the study will look at the revenue potential of the stadium and tax benefits to the city and state. If all parties want to proceed after the study, a cost study for a specific site with designs will take place next.

“After that a financing model can be approached,” said McGuigan. He noted it would take an act of the Maryland Legislature to approve this project.

McGuigan said this plan has been in discussion with the city for “quite some time.” Right to Dream has also been in meetings with The Port Covington Development Team which is underway on a multi-decade, 235-acre redevelopment of the South Baltimore neighborhood.

A spokesperson for The Port Covington Development Team told in an email: “With the first phase of development nearly complete at Port Covington, the project has the scale and flexibility to explore a range of ideas for future phases. We look forward to the results of this study and would consider including a stadium if it contributed to our goal of making Port Covington a place that welcomes and benefits all of Baltimore.”

MSA also approved a $50,000 study earlier this year for a multi-use soccer stadium in the “Baltimore Metro area” for a DC United MLS Next Pro club. This is the third division of soccer in North America. McGuigan said this would likely be a 5,000-seat stadium used for “developmental purposes.” DC United plays at Audi Field in the District and has a USL Championship team in Leesburg, VA.

Baltimore is one of the largest cities in America without a professional outdoor soccer team at the USL or MLS level. USL has been targeting Baltimore for expansion since that late 2010s, but few details have emerged until now. Baltimore was ranked as the 10th best market in the United States for English Premier League soccer viewership during the 2021/2022 season. Baltimore has also been a top 10 market for World Cup television viewership.

This was first reported by Baltimore Fishbowl

Photo of the Port Covington Development 

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