Ewing, NJ - Although sports at all levels in New Jersey are shut down due to the Covid-19 crisis, that won’t always be the case. And plans are now underway for pre-professional men’s and women’s soccer to be played in the Trenton, NJ area beginning May 2021.
“When you look for teams at this pre-professional level around New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, they are either in North Jersey, near the Shore, or in Philadelphia,” says Ira Jersey of Lawrenceville, the founder of the club. “Given the rich Central Jersey soccer landscape of players and fans, there’s a need for affordable, high-quality soccer entertainment in our community. Our vision is to build the club into a community resource and a point of pride for our region.”
The club plans on launching both women’s and men’s pre-professional teams simultaneously to play in local divisions of prominent national leagues. Jersey will be the General Manager of the men’s program, while Ben Chrnelich of Hopewell Township will be the General Manager of the women’s program.
“The women’s game has grown so much over the years,” notes Chrnelich. “With Sky Blue moving to Red Bull Arena from their former home at Rutgers, high-level women’s soccer has moved further from Trenton. In fact, we’ll have the only high-level summer soccer teams easily accessible by mass transit from Mercer County.”
It’s been 30 years since the last team played in the Trenton area at a similar level. In 1990 and 1991, the Penn-Jersey Spirit of the now-disbanded American Professional Soccer League used Lion’s Stadium as their home field, on the campus of what is now The College of New Jersey in Ewing. Centrally located and with the right mix of amenities, the new teams are planning to play in the same facility.
“The location and facilities are perfect,” Jersey says of the TCNJ facility. “It offers a full-size soccer pitch, has easy parking and bus access, and many amenities that will allow us to create an energetic and fun atmosphere for families, supporters, and businesses.”
As many sports leagues are delayed or canceled for the year, the club believes demand for local and outdoor events will climb in 2021. “The safety of our fans and participants will come first,” says Jersey. With a seating capacity of over 6,000 at Lion’s Stadium, the club believes that even if some form of physical distancing continues into 2021 they could accommodate several thousand fans as long as leagues are allowed to play.
The club will seek community and supporter input for its final branding. For now, the club is going by “Real Central New Jersey Soccer” until a final name is chosen.