Creating a Hypothetical League 1 Prairies

Creating a Hypothetical League 1 Prairies

In 2022, League 1 British Columbia was successfully launched and one year later, l has already expanded and has representation in the Canadian Championship. It’s been fantastic for BC to have a semi-professional league, and the more League 1’s in Canada the better. We already have League 1 Canada representation in BC, Ontario, and Quebec (where it is known as the PLSQ) and the next logical step would be a League 1 Prairies consisting of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. While at the time of writing there are no concrete plans, let’s have some fun and create a new hypothetical league 1 for the Prairies of Canada.

Format

A League 1 spread across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba is a huge land mass. It can be done, at the collegiate USports level teams across the three provinces play each other regularly, but with the league being new it’ll be best to try and restrict the logistical issues. That’s why I’m proposing dividing the league into two conferences, an Alberta conference consisting of four Alberta teams and a Central conference consisting of four teams from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. 

In terms of length of schedule, we’ll use League 1 BC as a barometer. Their league plays a home and away schedule totalling to twelve games played last season and looks set to increase to fourteen in 2023. For League 1 Central, I’m proposing that teams play two rounds of home and away fixtures within their conferences totalling twelve games, and included will be each team playing one home and away series against a randomly selected team from the other conferences which totals to a fourteen game regular season. 

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At the end of the regular season, the top four teams regardless of the conference will qualify for the playoffs. This means for example three teams from the Alberta conference and one team from the Central conference will make the top four. The playoffs will follow a 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3 seeding system with the semi-final round being two-legged. This will culminate in a one-game championship final, hosted by the highest remaining seed to determine an overall champion for League 1 Central.

Now with that being said, here are eight hypothetical teams for League 1 Prairie 

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Alberta Conference

Edmonton;

Perhaps the most obvious choice, Edmonton is currently the biggest city in Canada without a professional club and there is a clear gap in the market for a new team. FC Edmonton might have failed, but there is plenty of reasons to believe the sport can thrive in Alberta’s capital. Many of the biggest crowds in Canadian soccer history have been at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium – 50,000 crowds for Canada games is an excellent platform to work with. If the team can in some way get Edmonton superstar Alphonso Davies invoked, whether it’s just the occasional social media post then it would also give any potential Edmonton team perhaps the largest potential of any team in the new league. 

Potential name; River Valley FC – There have been rumors of Edmonton Scottish getting involved in a possible League 1 Prairies, but for the sake of this I’m going to stick to new teams and names so as to not lead anyone on. Edmonton is famously in a river valley, so the name is something that fans can immediately latch on to.

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Red Deer;

Ideally located between Calgary and Edmonton, Red Deer has a population of 100,000 making it the third most populated city in Alberta and a prime location for a League1 Team. 

An aerial view of Red Deer, the city which sits between Alberta’s two largest centres. (Waynercook/Wiki Commons)

Potential name; Red Deer United – Admittedly simple, Red Deer is a victim of being right next to Calgary and Edmonton when it comes to sports and doesn’t have many teams to call their own. Having a team called Red Deer United would immediately create a sense of belonging and pride.

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Calgary;

The third biggest city in Canada, the largest city in the prairies, home of Cavalry FC of the CPL – this is an obvious choice. Cavalry has been a major success story in Canadian soccer, being a title contender in every year of their existence and enjoying healthy active support. One complaint about Cavalry is that their stadium is located far away from downtime. If a League 1 Calgary team can be located closer to the city center, then the potential will be huge.

Cavalry FC celebrate their win over FC Edmonton – CFC Media / Tony Lewis

Potential name; FC Energy – Calgary’s self proclaimed motto is “be part of the energy” and is a very fitting name given Alberta’s large oil and gas sector. It’s a name that would immediately make you think of Calgary, and suit a city that is continuing to grow and grow with what feels like an unstoppable force of energy behind it.

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Lethbridge;

The fourth biggest city in Alberta, and the only city/team not located in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor, Lethbridge is a unique city. It is a large college town, with a young demographic which ties in perfectly with the young demographic that typically makes up soccer fans in Canada. There aren’t any established pro/semi-pro teams in Lethbridge, and it’s a catchment area that would be perfect for League 1 Prairies.

University of Lethbridge stadium would serve as an ideal home field for a potential League 1 team – U of L stadium (Lethbridge News Now)

Potential name; Wind FC – If you’ve ever been to Lethbridge, you’ll know that it’s an incredibly Windy City. It’s well known to most people in Alberta and especially the locals. It may be slightly tongue and check, but it’s also intimidating, when you play in Lethbridge, you better be prepared to expect the unexpected with the flight of the ball!

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Central Conference

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan;

There are concrete plans to build a soccer stadium in Saskatoon and the hopes that a CPL team would follow suit, the appetite for the sport is growing in Saskatoon, and a League 1 team would be perfect for not only nurturing the sport in Saskatoon, he also providing the future (potential stadium) another tenant.

Digital rendering of the proposed Saskatoon soccer stadium

Potential name; Bridge City FC – Bridge City is a nickname for Saskatoon, and would immediately sought to create a connection between the new club and the residents of the city.

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Brandon, Manitoba;

There’s more to Manitoba than Winnipeg…It would be great for a League 1 Prairies to have two Manitoba teams from different municipalities, and Brandon would be the best option. It is the second biggest city in Manitoba, and it’s location between Winnipeg and Regina/Saskatchewan would make it also geographically very convenient to be included in the league.

Brandon University’s Healthy Living Centre would provide soccer facilities the team would need (Twitter/Brandon University Sports Medicine Clinic)

Potential Name; Assiniboine FC – Brandon is on the Assiniboine river and can owe a lot of it’s early growth to the Assiniboine Fur Trade and is a key part of the city. It would serve as a name that locals to relate to, and could lead to many fun nicknames with its multiple syllables.

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Regina, Saskatchewan;

Regina is home to the Saskatchewan RoughRiders, one of the best-supported teams in all of Canada, and proof that the people of Saskatchewan’s capital love their sport. If that’s not enough, the inclusion of both Saskatoon and Regina League 1 team would immediately give the league an entertaining rivalry to rival Edmonton-Calgary in the Alberta conference. The 33,000 Mosaic Stadium has hosted many well-attended soccer games but would be admittedly too big for League 1 Soccer, so that would need to work out.

Thousands flocked to Regina’s new Mosaic Stadium to see the New York Cosmos take on Valencia CF during Soccer Day in Saskatchewan 2017. (Jenna Leith/CBC)

Potential name; Queen City FC – Queen City is the nickname of Regina, and would be a pretty slick name for a potential Regina team.

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Winnipeg, Manitoba;

Last but not least, is the most eastern team in this league, Winnipeg. Just like Calgary and Edmonton, this is a city that speaks for itself with it being one of the biggest in Canada, and has a long history in sports. No League 1 Prairies would be complete without Winnipeg, and they would be a welcomed edition.

Winnipeg’s IG Field during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Potential name; Winnipeg FC – Fairly simple, but nothing wrong with that. Depending on where the team is located within the city the name could even be more locale-specific i.e North Winnipeg FC, West Winnipeg FC, etc.


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4 thoughts on “Creating a Hypothetical League 1 Prairies

  1. I’d love to see a team in Brandon, and if there was a vote on the name, I’d vote for West Man United.

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