Cavalry FC, Calgary's new professional soccer team, to debut in 2019

Cavalry FC, Calgary's new professional soccer team, to debut in 2019

Calgary's Cavalry FC will be one of the founding clubs of Canada's new professional soccer league.

"Calgary's a great fit for this new league, and when you think about sports, Calgary's a sports town," David Clanachan, commissioner of the Canadian Premier League, told CBC News Wednesday.

The club's name — announced Thursday at Spruce Meadows — is inspired by the area's military history, the league announced in a release.

The Cavalry's crest will feature a chevron — a nod to the Canadian Army's Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) armoured regiment and Alberta's foothills and Rocky Mountains — and a soccer ball, with the official colours of green, red and black. 

The team will play in a 5,000- to 7,000-seat home stadium, which will be constructed on the grounds of the Spruce Meadows equestrian complex. The team will be owned and operated by Spruce Meadows Sports and Entertainment, which is led by Linda Southern-Heathcott and Ian Allison. 

"Those that are from Calgary that have been to Spruce Meadows, it's a fantastic facility … it's not just like going to a game. It's an event, it's an entertainment experience," said Clanachan. 

He said the league is still in talks for how Canadians will be able to watch games, including non-traditional methods like online streaming, but said he believes broadcasting will be in the league's future.

Former professional soccer player Tommy Wheeldon Jr. will be the team's general manager and head coach.

Wheeldon has played with Swindon Town FC, Torquay United and Calgary Storm, and has spent more than a decade with the Calgary Foothills Soccer Club.

"To see this kind of opportunity come to local players is huge. It's been a giant leap for players to get into the professional game, but now that we have this in our own backyard, it's a stepping stone for kids to get where they want to get to," said Cory Letendere, program coordinator with Calgary Minor Soccer Association.

Letendere said a soccer culture doesn't just pop up out of mid-air, but he's seen it growing in Calgary over the past number of years.

"I think that soccer culture is now here … and we're ready for a professional franchise in Calgary."

The league is set for its debut in spring of 2019. Calgary will be joined by clubs from Halifax, Port City, B.C., and York Region, Ont.

The Tier 1 league has yet to be approved by FIFA, the sport's world governing body. 

"This will be a Canadian professional league. By Canadians, for Canadians. It's all about creating pathways for young Canadians to be able to make it to the pro ranks and to be able to play from coast to coast in many different cities across the country," Clanachan said. 

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Sandip Lalli, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, says a professional league could have a great economic impact for the city, from job-creation to tourism.

"I think it'll be a good residual impact on the city," Lalli said. "World-class cities have world-class teams, and we're hoping that this one will make the mark."