Portland's Back Bay will not be the home for a potential pro soccer franchise.

The Portland Press Herald reported that a current utility project where the stadium would have potential gone has essentially made it a non-starter.

However, not all is even close to lost.

According to the Portland Press Herald, the soccer team's investment group is now working with the city to check the viability of Fitzpatrick Stadium. Currently, the Portland stadium is used for community and high school sports, including the state's football championships.

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The Portland Press Herald reported there are some speed bumps to deal with at Fitzpatrick, including having to find a new public home for the track. The newspaper highlights the team and city of Portland are looking at potential new homes for the track, including Dougherty Field and Payson Park.

USL to Portland Founder and President Gabe Hoffman-Johnson said a move to Fitzpatrick will benefit more than just the soccer team.

"The benefits of Fitzpatrick are adjacency to current professional sports infrastructure, along with an already existing, albeit outdated, public stadium. Maintaining access to a higher quality sports facility for Portland schools, and other current users.. a new track facility, which is better for the future of Portland track, and an additional new multi-use turf field adding much needed field space are among the number of community benefits as well."

Fitzpatrick will need some significant changes for a pro soccer team to take the field. But, Hoffman-Johnson says it's doable.

"We’d be looking to make improvements to update Fitzpatrick to professional quality. Locker rooms, press box, concessions, better seating, additional bathrooms," he said.

These are exciting times for soccer fans here in southern Maine.

Yes, a new stadium on Back Bay would have been electric, but Fitzpatrick is a worthy candidate. The bones are strong. If Hoffman-Johnson and his team put in the effort needed, they could truly build something special at Fitzy.

It also will be a great addition to the pro sports corner of the city. Adjacent to Hadlock Field, and sharing a park lot with the Portland Expo, it would be great to add another Portland franchise to the mix.

Who knows, perhaps some cross-promotions with the other teams are in the works.

USL to Portland's goal is to get a pro soccer team to Portland to play in the third tier of the American soccer system. They are hoping to begin play in the spring of 2024.

For more information on this incredible grassroots movement, visit usltoportland.com 

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