DES MOINES, Iowa — A high-level professional soccer team is officially coming to Des Moines, as well as brand-new stadium for it to call home.

The United Soccer League awarded an expansion franchise to Iowa’s capital city Thursday. The team will play in the USL Championship, the league’s highest tier, and is scheduled to join the league in the 2024 season.

“We believe Iowa could compete across the country and be one of the top soccer states in the United States,” said United Soccer League COO Justin Papadakis during Thursday’s press conference announcing the expansion.

The team will be owned by the Krause Group and CEO Kyle Krause, which already owns two soccer clubs: The Des Moines Menace of the lower-tier USL League Two, and Parma Calcio of the Italian Serie A.

Krause said he had advocated for a top-flight soccer team in Des Moines ever since he bought the Menace in 1998.

“I believe in soccer, the growth of soccer, and in what’s happened for soccer in America and around the world,” Krause said. “It makes today one of those dream come true days.”

Krause had pushed for a new soccer stadium along with a USL Championship franchise since 2019. Both will become reality; Krause said an $83 million stadium will break ground on a former Superfund site near the George Washington Carver Bridge this fall.

“It certainly feels good to have a Superfund site go away, and it feels that much better to be able to put a beautiful stadium on top of it,” Krause said.

The stadium will likely open around the time the USL Pro Iowa expansion team begins play. The club is still developing a name, but Krause said the Menace name will not transfer to the new franchise.

The USL Championship is slated to have 28 other teams by the time the Pro Iowa team joins, but Des Moines would be the only team located in the Upper Midwest. The closest USL Championship teams to Des Moines are in Indianapolis and Tulsa.

The press release from USL Championship announcing the expansion is below:

TAMPA, Fla. & DES MOINES, Iowa — The United Soccer League today announced the addition of a USL Championship expansion club in Des Moines, Iowa. With a history of success in the pre-professional ranks, Pro Iowa will serve as the capstone for a youth-to-professional soccer pathway in the state and plans to kick off its inaugural season in 2024.

The club’s majority owner, Kyle Krause, is the longest-tenured owner in the United Soccer League’s ecosystem having presided over the success of current USL League Two club the Des Moines Menace since 1998. For nearly a quarter century, Krause has produced a successful track record of running soccer clubs both domestically and internationally. A two-time title winner, the Menace are the reigning USL League Two champions. Additionally, in 2020 Krause became the owner of Parma Calcio 1913, currently competing in Italy’s Serie B, the second tier of Italian professional soccer.

“It’s an exciting day for the USL Championship,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “Iowa has a rich soccer history, and Pro Iowa will bring a long-awaited national and international spotlight to Des Moines. Kyle Krause’s longtime commitment to the game, the community, and the USL are without equal.  He is the very best person to bring professional soccer to Iowa, and the new Pro Iowa Stadium will be a crown jewel not just for the USL, but for soccer in the United States.  Krause Group’s experience operating soccer clubs here and in Europe will help this new franchise become a source of great pride for the people of Des Moines and the state of Iowa.”

Krause’s holding company, Krause Group, has a diverse business portfolio that includes – in addition to soccer clubs – convenience retail, wineries and hospitality, real estate and agriculture. His strong business drive and proven leadership led him to the top of Kum & Go L.C., a family-owned convenience store chain founded more than 60 years ago that has over 400 locations in 11 different states, over 5,000 employees and generates $2.5 billion in revenue annually, and is now a staple in the Krause Group portfolio.

The professional USL Championship club will play its home matches at the Pro Iowa Stadium. Located alongside Global Plaza, the stadium is part of a $535 million development project that will create a multi-use district in Des Moines. Upon completion, the 65-acre site will feature over one million square feet of commercial space, multi-unit housing, community green space, and the sports and entertainment venue.

“This announcement has been years in the making,” said Kyle Krause. “We’re thrilled to bring a new professional soccer club here with USL. This is a great opportunity to add another enticing benefit to living in central Iowa. We are excited to showcase Des Moines on a national and international stage. We could not have done this without the foundation laid by Iowa’s soccer community. The support for and success of the Menace has been a key factor in creating the right environment to support a USL Championship club.”

The new club’s permanent crest and brand will come to life in the months ahead through a series of listening sessions, utilizing input of community members and soccer fans, who will play a vital role in the development process.

Learn more about Pro Iowa by following @USLProIowa on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and online at www.uslproiowa.com.