Premier League teams could be coming to Statesboro, Georgia

    In an interview last Wednesday on ESPN Coastal’s Karl DeMasi Sports Report, South Georgia Tormenta FC Owner and President Darin Van Tassell revealed that the Statesboro based club has received eight letters of intent from Premier League teams to play preseason friendlies upon completion of Tormenta’s currently under construction stadium.

    Don’t feel bad for re-reading that multiple times. I certainly had to.

    Add to that interest from clubs in La Liga and a quote including ‘Manchester City’ and ‘Statesboro’ in the same breath and you might be questioning your own sanity.

    As crazy as it sounds, a USL League One team hosting a big European club isn’t unheard of. Last summer, fellow League One member Forward Madison FC hosted Hertha Berlin in a friendly during Hertha’s U.S. tour. FC Augsburg was also scheduled to make a trip to Madison this season before COVID-19 introduced itself to the world and brought sports to a halt.

    While league play has been suspended, stadium construction in Statesboro has continued to make progress. The new Tormenta FC stadium is the cornerstone for any discussion like this to take place, and after breaking ground in March 2019 and suffering delays due to poor weather, the site is getting close to ready for vertical construction to begin. Work so far has gone into new roads and utilities for the entire development, which drew inspiration from The Battery Atlanta that surrounds the Braves’ Truist Park.

    Field level rendering of the new Tormenta FC stadium.

    The stadium itself will have a capacity of 5,300 with an emphasis on creating an intimate atmosphere, and is 100% privately funded. Surrounding development will include a shopping center anchored by a Publix as well as a variety of other retail and residential spaces. There is no specific completion date with weather delays and the addition of a concert stage into the stadium plans, but the opening should happen in 2021.

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    Aerial rendering of the new Tormenta FC stadium.

    Exactly who will make the trip to Statesboro from overseas is still up for discussion, but the match will most likely be part of a club’s U.S. tour or as a side match while participating in the International Champions Cup.

    Atlanta United making the drive south in the near future seems inevitable considering their record of visiting local lower division sides for preseason. Atlanta has made trips to Chattanooga, Charleston, Nashville, and Birmingham in the past in preparation for MLS seasons, with Darren Eales stating the club’s interest in playing preseason games within the southeast region.

    In the present, Tormenta FC is preparing for a revised kickoff date of July 18th alongside the rest of USL League One. Details aren’t solidified yet, but teams will be playing home matches, likely with fans in a reduced capacity, rather than gathering in a single location à la MLS in Orlando. Formatting and scheduling are still to be announced, but all news is good news when it comes to the return of sports into our lives, and imagining a future where Statesboro Georgia hosts top flight European soccer makes things seem a whole lot brighter.

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