COO/CHIEF REAL ESTATE OFFICER
Justin appears in the Top 100
People in Real Estate magazine
The United Soccer League (USL) is the fastest growing and most compelling soccer organization in the world. It oversees seven professional and elite pre-professional leagues and boasts clubs in upwards of 200 markets across the United States. Yet, the USL’s impact on local communities goes well beyond the action on the field and the energy in the stands because the USL is also the largest developer of stadiums in the world. The USL’s stadium development efforts are led by COO, Justin Papadakis, who holds a second title as chief real estate officer—the only one in professional sports.
Justin plays an integral role in the USL’s strategic growth plan, leading up to the 2026 FIFA World Cup, being co-hosted in the U.S. The USL is developing more than 30 stadiums as it launches up to 50 new pro teams in the next four years. Many of the new teams will be part of the USL Super League, a professional women’s league launching in 2023. “We are in a remarkable growth phase right now,” Justin says. “From new leagues to new clubs to new stadiums, we are shaping the future of soccer in America for generations to come.” The USL will eventually have stadiums in 80 U.S. cities, many of which will have an impact that extends beyond gameday. Through partnerships with city, county, and state municipalities, stadiums can anchor vibrant entertainment districts and act as incubators for sustained local growth. “We believe that these stadium-anchored entertainment districts, from a sector perspective, are the future of real estate,” Justin says. “The stadium acts as the centerpiece, providing stable cultural and economic benefits to the entire community.”
The process of developing these entertainment complexes requires a long-term vision. The land deal alone can take up to four years, followed by the entitlement process and securing financing. It takes time and patience, but the result is worth the effort. “Piecing together all the elements of a stadium project is challenging, but I love that challenge,” Justin says. “I’m motivated by what we are doing to bring professional sports and more, to so many communities in our country.”
COO/Chief Real Estate Officer
United Soccer League