The National Independent Soccer Association has announced the first eight markets involved in its chase for Division III soccer sanctioning from U.S. Soccer.
Charlotte, Chattanooga, Connecticut, Miami, Milwaukee, Omaha, Phoenix, and St. Louis will be the markets applying to open play in Spring 2018. The league says it has 15 letters of intent, with the other seven markets opting to wait until the 2019 season to begin play.
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The league’s use of the word “applicants” is very loose, as its experienced organizers would not let the possibility of “no” get mixed into an initial release.
NISA will be owned by the teams and run by organizers Peter Wilt and Jack Cummings, and the teams will need to pay six-figure expansion fees to fund the league.
Wilt and Cummins are behind an NASL bid for Chicago, and Wilt helped build MLS side Chicago Fire and is on the club’s Ring of Fire. Cummins is an executive who ran the Chicago Red Stars women’s team, and both men work for a sports advisory firm called Club 9 Sports.
At least one of the aforementioned markets is a known entity from other leagues, NPSL side Miami United, and Chattanooga FC may have a team in the league though there are conflicting reports (A supporters account says yes, the club’s co-founder says there will be an NPSL side no matter what).
Wilt pitched Division II NASL and perceived Division IV NPSL on helping to organize NISA, in the hopes that NISA would eventually become a middle cog in three-tier promotion/relegation.
St. Louis, Phoenix, and Charlotte have USL sides, and Miami has a team in the NASL.
Sean Flynn, the CEO of Miami FC in the NASL, has been an outspoken proponent of pro/rel and is supportive of the idea even with a team in his market.