For the second time this week, the National Premier Soccer League has announced the addition of a new team in the Northeast Region’s Keystone Conference with Atlantic City FC joining FC Monmouth as another new entry from the state of New Jersey set to begin play in 2018.
The announcement of the team was made Thursday morning in a packed meeting room at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City. Tropicana Atlantic City is the lead sponsor for the venture, which is being led by seasoned sports professionals Andrew Weilgus and Nicholas Bilotta III.
“We thought it was a travesty that Atlantic City did not have a single sports team representing it and with soccer being on the rise a team made perfect sense for my business partner and I for this community with its amazing diversity and the passion that I’ve seen for the sport in various ways,” said Weilgus, a producer for DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket and a serial entrepreneur.
The team will play its home games at nearby Stockton University, roughly 15 minutes from downtown Atlantic City. G. Larry James Stadium, which hosts soccer and track for the university, seats about 1,750 fans and has a natural grass playing surface and lights. Home games will be broadcast live in English and Spanish on local and regional radio and streamed online.
“Make no mistake, this club… our goal above all is else is to bring us something of our own here,” said co-founder Bilotta, who grew up two miles from the Atlantic City boardwalk and is also the co-founder of QuizzoTrivia.com and Atlantic City Fantasy Sports. “This is our opportunity to showcase this one of a kind location to the rest of the soccer world.”
Former Swansea City star Kristian O’Leary will serve as the team’s head coach, while Jeremiah White III, who played for nearly a decade in Europe and earned a cap with the United States Men’s National Team in 2008, will serve as the club’s technical director.
“The diversity in this community is especially important to me and the main reason I signed on,” said White, who will also be involved in community outreach for the club. “You can do soccer in a lot of places but the opportunity to really make a difference in your community together with this sport is very meaningful to me.”
A city of just under 40,000 people, according to 2010 Census data, Atlantic City’s population is 40 percent Black or African American, 30 percent Hispanic or Latino, 30 percent white 16 percent Asian and 16 percent some other race. About 46 percent of households, according to the data, speak a language other than English at home.
“I have to tell you that Atlantic City loves soccer,” outgoing Mayor Don Guardian said. “The last three sports field that I wanted to redo as baseball fields we had community involvement and as a result all three became soccer fields.”
Atlantic City FC brings the number of teams in the Keystone Conference for 2018 to nine with FC Monmouth, the rebranded FC Motown (formerly Clarkstown SC) and New Jersey Copa FC also in New Jersey, and Electric City Shock, Hershey FC, Junior Lone Star FC, Torch FC and West Chester United in Pennsylvania.
“We love the proximity (to their rivals),” Weilgus said of the conference. “Everybody in this league that we’ve spent time with at the owner meetings in New Orleans has been very gracious answering questions. There is a sense of competition but also a distinct sense of working together.”
Atlantic City FC’s inaugural season will kick off in May. In one example of the team’s marketing savvy and community involvement, tickets will be $11 to signify the double aces in the team’s logo and $1 from each ticket will be donated to charity.
“Atlantic City is a tremendous market for soccer and we’re glad to have ACFC as part of the NPSL family,” NPSL Chairman Joe Barone said in a statement.