MLS NEXT Pro today announced the addition of an independent club that brings 15 years of history to the League. Chattanooga FC will join MLS NEXT Pro in 2024, becoming the second independent team to begin play next season. Pending sanctioning approval by the U.S. Soccer Federation, Chattanooga FC will join fellow independent club Carolina Core FC and 27 MLS-affiliated clubs for the League’s third season in 2024. Chattanooga is the fourth independent club to join MLS NEXT Pro since its inaugural season, following Jacksonville Armada FC, which was announced earlier this month, and the previously announced Cleveland.
Chattanooga FC has had an impactful and successful 15-year history, including most recently finishing first in the NISA 2023 regular season and advancing to the semi-final playoff round under the guidance of Head Coach and Sporting Director Rod Underwood. CFC competed in NISA for the past three seasons and were Independent Cup champions from the southeast region all three years.
“Since its founding, Chattanooga FC has been a pillar in the community through its efforts both on and off the field. We are thrilled to welcome the Club to our League,” said Charles Altchek, President of MLS NEXT Pro. “We look forward to partnering with Davis Grizzard and making a significant and lasting impact in Chattanooga and the Tennessee Valley.”
Led by original founders and primary owner and Vice Chairman Davis Grizzard, CFC features a fan ownership model, with more than 3,200 fans, including 1,800 Chattanoogans, owning shares in the Club. There are fan-owners in all 50 states and in more than 30 countries.
“In our history, every time we’ve needed them, our supporters have stood up for CFC,” said Grizzard. “We know that partnering with MLS NEXT Pro will put more eyes on our community now than ever before. As they’ve done for every major milestone in this Club’s past, we’re excited to see fans celebrate this next chapter.”
In addition to the men’s team, the Club also fields a women’s team that competes in the WPSL, as well as providing opportunities for nearly 700 youth (U7-U18) through the CFC Academy. Chattanooga FC will continue to play at their home field, Finley Stadium, which has served as host in the past to MLS preseason games, international friendlies and U.S. Open Cup matches. The move to MLS NEXT Pro will coincide with a $1.8 million renovation at Finley Stadium to include a new luxury stadium club experience, new LED field lights, and elevator modernization. This is in addition to more than $300,000 invested in skybox audio- visual upgrades, food and beverage renovations, and general equipment replacements in 2023.
With the addition of two new teams in 2024, information regarding MLS NEXT Pro’s conference and division alignment as well as the schedule for next season will be announced in the coming months.