The official announcement has been made and now the hard work begins to bring professional soccer team 1812 FC to the city of Barrie.
During a video press conference this afternoon, the group's intentions were announced to bring pro soccer to the city as a 2021 expansion club in League1 Ontario.
The Zoom call, hosted by the team's managing partner Andrew Weilgus, had close to 100 people listening in as information was revealed on how the team will look on the field, off the field, and where the field may be.
In an interview with BarrieToday, Weilgus said he was excited to get the team going and show how big soccer is in the community.
“I have been researching Barrie and have spoken to residents there who say the city is headed for a huge population boom. Soccer is a worldwide beloved sport that speaks to every nationality," Weilgus said, adding, "1812 FC will resonate with a huge amount of people in Barrie and we expect to have a very loud fanbase.”
Weilgus has a 20-year history in the sports and entertainment business and is a co-founder and president of Atlantic City FC, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League.
Mayor Jeff Lehman spoke on the call and said, "as a former player, soccer parent and huge enthusiast,” he was very excited to see pro soccer coming to the city.
"You’re right about how the community is changing and growing,” the mayor added. “We see it, we’re the ones who build soccer fields versus ball diamonds and ice surfaces and cricket pitches and the things that we build. We know how strong the demand is for the game.”
The application will go to League1 Ontario immediately, but the team wanted to have all its ducks in a row before doing so.
One of the rules with the league is that every club must have a youth organization they support to help grow the game in their home city.
The Barrie Soccer Club is on board for that role and then some, says coaching director Will Devellis.
“We’ll be responsible for the technical side of 1812 FC. We’ll be hiring coaches, recruiting players, both at the senior and reserve team levels, and ultimately the on-field product,” Devellis said. “We’re extremely excited about that as we feel it was one of our strongest attributes here at the Barrie Soccer Club.”
League1 Ontario is a semi-professional men's and women's soccer league in Ontario and is sanctioned by the Canadian Soccer Association and the Ontario Soccer Association as a Division III league in the Canadian soccer league system.
Weilgus spoke to the term "professional."
“It is a professional club, from where we stand, as it will be professionally run from top to bottom," he told BarrieToday. "There will be no half-work ethic here and the club will represent the city in a professional manner.
"As far as player compensation goes, there are rules in League1 that have to be considered," Weilgus added. "There will be players who will be compensated financially, but there is also housing as a means of compensating.”
The team is in talks to play on Georgian College’s J.C. Massie Field when 2021 play begins, running from May to October.
Weilgus also mentioned that former Major League Soccer player Jeremy Hall will be involved as an adviser for the local team, with hopes to join them if League1 approves the move to Barrie.
Like many soccer clubs around the world, 1812 FC will have a supporter’s club. The Kempenfelt Crew was created by Barrie resident Ronan Cordelle, who began the quest for a pro team in the city.
“Being from Dublin, Ireland and knowing how great it is to have a soccer club in your hometown, when I moved here a few years back, I just knew I had to get moving on bringing the game here,” said Cordelle. “I’m so happy the day is here and we can look toward building a loud, cheerful soccer culture here.”
The club is currently looking for sponsors, which will be a key to finalizing the deal with making the team a success.Information on how to be a sponsor and preorder team merchandise, head to their website.