BUFFALO, N.Y. — A 10,000-seat stadium, a soccer club looking to the future supporters for insight and potentially an MLS-tier women's team are making their way to Western New York.

"We're on the Nichols field right now, which is where I played in high school. I won a couple of state championships playing for Nichols," said alumni and now-President of Bufalo Pro Soccer, Peter Marlette. "Actually, I also tore my Achilles over on the other field."

Marlette has a history in Western New York that brought him through different stages of professional soccer, and now he's bringing a top-tier United Soccer League team back home.

"MLS can only support, you know, so many communities," he noted. "There's only so many cities where that can support a pro team at that level. And as a result, the youth in those communities don't have that top of the pyramid to aspire to and to work their way towards in their backyards." 

Buffalo already has a USL League Two, or amateur tier team, in FC Buffalo, something Marlette’s very aware of.

"I played for FC Buffalo however many years ago it was, I scored one of my favorite goals of all-time for FC Buffalo at All-High Stadium," Marlette said. "I have a tremendous affinity for FC Buffalo and everything that they've done and the community they've built around soccer. And now I think it's time to add the professional game."

The biggest thing the new club will be looking for on the pitch is promoting local.

"If you work hard, if you keep excelling, if you keep showing what you can do, there's going to be an opportunity for you to potentially play professionally and start your career in your hometown,” Marlette said. “That's what USL provides that the other leagues in this ecosystem are not able to." 

A USLW team already exists in the blue and gold that plays at All-High Stadium in North Buffalo, but that pro-am team is also getting something to progress to.

"The USL Super League, which is a new women's professional league, which is starting this August, that does have Division I sanctioning," he noted. "So that is going to be the highest level of professional women's soccer in the United States and we do in Buffalo have the rights to a USL expansion, a USL Super League expansion franchise right."

On Thursday, it was time for a first public town hall.

"I'll be wanting to hear from the fans what they're looking for in a stadium, what they're looking for in their club — colors, name ideas, whatever it may be," said Marlette. 

The Banshee, one of the premier soccer bars in the 716, was a natural selection, as co-owner Connor Hawkins has been a major advocate for fans looking to watch their teams overseas but also who are playing at home.

"The following here in Buffalo is extremely, extremely high,” said Hawkins. “It could be up there to being a big sport with football, hockey, lacrosse and baseball. Soccer's coming. It's coming too. I'm so proud of it. And I think that the work Peter Marlette and Buffalo Pro Soccer is doing — we're going to be around for a long, long time."

A quick presentation and then questions from stadium location, previous USL blunders in Western New York, to partnerships with the community...

"What this is going to do is create idols and people to look up to in their backyard and also at the USL level. MLS is similar, USL is different. We can get the players out there putting on clinics, putting on camps, coaching teams if they want to," Marlette announced to a packed back corner of the pub. 

While a name isn't picked and things like Buffalo or Nickel City United were tossed around, there's one word that sticks out there.

"If we're going to make this truly a community club representative of Buffalo in Western New York, it's going to be nights like this that make that happen," he said.

Plenty of meetings and decisions for Marlette and the Western New York soccer scene to come together on.

"Soccer is the world's game and Buffalo is an increasingly young and increasingly diverse city," he added. "We're going to provide a stadium and a game and a team that everybody, no matter where they're from, no matter where they live or how long they've been in Buffalo, can come together and cheer on a team that's representing them." 

The club is working to finalize a primary ownership group, community outreach and stadium location.

They are down to four finalists on that last front with it being important to the club for people from the suburbs to even southern Ontario able to make it to games. The final four site options are all in Buffalo with two being downtown, something that caused a bit of a stir when the Bills chose to stay down in Orchard Park.