With lead investor on board, efforts to bring pro soccer to Omaha are gaining momentum | Local sports

Pro soccer could be returning to Omaha.

Omaha Storm Chasers owner Gary Green has tentatively agreed to lead an ownership group to bring a United Soccer League team to Omaha and eventually build a soccer stadium.

“I think there’s a pumped-up demand for soccer in the city,” Green said.

The USL, the American soccer equivalent of Triple-A baseball, has been trying to launch an expansion team in Omaha for more than a year. The 30-team league plays a 32-game schedule from March through October.

Green said the venture is “in the exploratory stages.” He has not signed any paperwork, and numerous challenges remain, such as lining up more investors and finding a place to play.

But he said the ownership group is proceeding with the aim of launching a USL team in 2019 or later and building a soccer-specific stadium. The team would play at an existing venue in town until a stadium could be built.

The investors have not yet identified a location, a timeline or a price for such a stadium. The USL is asking all of its teams to play in a soccer-specific stadium or have plans to do so by 2020.

Facilities capable of hosting pro soccer in the interim include TD Ameritrade Park, Creighton University’s Morrison Stadium, the Storm Chasers’ Werner Park and a few other sites.

Green’s interest comes after at least two brokers and one league official visited multiple times in the past year to try to recruit investors and secure a stadium deal.

USL spokesman Leonardo Santiago said there are several reasons the league is interested in Omaha:

» The Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area has nearly 1 million people, with a growing community of millennials. (More than half of the pro soccer fan base is between the ages of 18 and 34.)

» The city has four Fortune 500 companies, indicating that the business community is robust enough to sponsor a…

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