Group Looking to Bring Pro Soccer Back to Cleveland Rumored to Be Interested in ODOT-owned Land Near Inner Belt for Stadium

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A slice of ODOT-owned land near the Inner Belt — from the Fire Museum to the USPS facility, and from the Cuyahoga River to Ontario Street — is rumored to be a target location for a 5,000-seat USL soccer stadium, according to various rumors and reporting by NEOTrans.

Crain's reported last year that brothers Shaw and Greg Abrams, who own the Force Sports facilities in the area and who acquired the rights to the Force name from Scott Wolstein, have been working diligently behind the scenes to bring professional soccer back to Cleveland. That would hypothetically be with a new United Soccer League franchise that would pay homage to the indoor soccer legacy of the Cleveland Force. The USL is second-tier league below the MLS, and the Force would follow the forlorn Cleveland City Stars, the city's short-lived USL franchise that lasted just three seasons from 2006 to 2009.

Everyone involved held off on commenting on or confirming any specifics for now, likely because there is nothing final to announce — the Abrams told NEOTrans they hope to announce a stadium site soon; ODOT told the site it had received interest in the land from prospective buyers but would not reveal anything more and noted no sales agreements have been reached.

Development and construction of a soccer-specific stadium is just one part of the financial puzzle — expansion fees in the USL run about $7 million.

ODOT's land in question used to be part of the Norfolk Southern rail yards. The site is also bordered by an RTA rail line, which could hypothetically mean a future station there to accommodate the development's employees and visitors. The site has been the subject of varying degrees of interest for proposed pro sports facilities since the Browns left for Baltimore.

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