Kettering University announced at a press conference that in 2019, the Michigan Bucks soccer team (with a new name TBA), under owner Dan Duggan and new president Costa Papista, will relocate from Pontiac to make their home at Kettering’s Atwood Stadium.
“We have players from 30 universities in 10 states and a number from other countries,” Duggan says. “Flint is an amazing city and I’m proud to be part of its renaissance.”
The Bucks are part of the most successful franchise in the history of collegiate soccer, USL League Two. Formerly known as the Premier Development League, it is the leader in pre-professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada. League Two franchises allow the top amateur soccer players to train and compete at the highest level possible for collegiate athletes.
Kettering University took over Atwood Stadium in 2013. At the time the structure was in disrepair and unused. The university installed a new field to host soccer, football and lacrosse games. Since 2015 the university has hosted many events at Atwood.
The Bucks started as the Mid-Michigan Bucks in Saginaw. They relocated to Pontiac in 2003.
The team is part of the Great Lakes Division of the league’s Central Conference. Since they began they’ve been one of its top teams, without losing a single season in 23 years.
Duggan says the team has always put community first. Team members are involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs, various churches, children’s hospitals and more. Members are excited to be based at this historic community venue, built in 1929. Atwood has 10,000 seats, five times as many as the team’s former base, Pontiac’s Ultimate Soccer Arenas, according to Kettering University’s press release on October 31. Since Kettering’s renovations, Atwood has become a world-class arena.
Duggan says he’s excited about the move and the new partnership with Papista. “We couldn’t pass up this opportunity,” he says. “Flint is a great sports town. It’s only about 35 miles north of Pontiac, so our club can grow its fan base and keep our relationship with our fans in Oakland County as we expand into Genesee County. We came up here to win and put smiles on people’s faces.”
Duggan has been the owner of the Bucks since the league began in 1995. The team has been highly successful, winning the season title five times and the North American Championship three times in 23 years. These wins are more than any other team in the league has had.
“RELATIONSHIP ADDS A SIGNIFICANT FAMILY-FRIENDLY
ENTERTAINMENT DRAW TO FLINT AND HAS GREAT POTENTIAL
TO FURTHER BUILD THE ECONOMY OF OUR COMMUNITY. ”
– ROBERT MCMAHAN –
Papista has launched a number of sports franchises in Michigan and presided over the Saginaw Spirit and the Flint Firebirds. “We were drawn to Kettering University’s Atwood Stadium because of the impressive renovations made by Kettering and its commitment to community engagement,” he says.
“The relationship adds a significant family-friendly entertainment draw to Flint and has great potential to further build the economy of our community,” Kettering president Robert McMahan, Ph.D., adds.
“We hope to deliver world-class family-friendly sports and entertainment and to convert people to becoming soccer fans,” Duggan says. “And we want to bring Flint flair to the team, and be part of Flint’s renaissance.”
At the press event, Mayor Karen Weaver welcomed the Michigan Bucks to Flint. “We’ve not had soccer in Flint before, so we’re excited about this,” she says. “We look forward to inspiring a new generation of soccer legends right here in Flint.”
Tim Herman, president and CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, says the move is great news for the region. “It will add to local economic activity,” he says. “I encourage the business community here to support the endeavor.”