Stadium issues force USL's Penn FC to sit out 2019 'in the best interest for the future'

Penn FC -- the former Harrisburg City Islanders -- won't be back in the USL in 2019, ceasing operations after its final two games this week as it pursues a new stadium development and a move down to the new USL League One in 2020.

"We're incredibly disappointed not to take part in the 2019 season," said Penn FC owner Eric Pettis. "However, we remain wholly committed to finding a solution to our stadium situation and ensuring that we can continue to bring high-level professional soccer to our fans in the region."

The club, which was founded in 2003, won the USL Second Division championship in 2007 and was second in the USL in 2011 and 2014 but has struggled to solve its stadium issues. Since 2016, it played at FNB Field -- a minor league baseball park -- on City Island in Harrisburg.

"The lack of a serviceable stadium solution has presented a tremendous challenge for Penn FC," said USL president Jake Edwards. "Our league has grown and matured to a point where having a strong venue that allows for proper scheduling, a quality in-stadium experience and better opportunities on both the business and technical sides is absolutely essential. With that said, we have great faith in Eric and his team and look forward to welcoming them back in 2020."

Penn FC is averaging a little more than 2,000 fans a game, the second lowest of the USL's independent teams.

"Not competing in the USL in 2019 is in the best interest for the future of Penn FC," Penn FC vice president of business operations Anthony Rios said.

The City Islanders were re-branded as Penn FC for the 2018 season and partnered with Rush Soccer to develop a feeder system from Rush's youth program into the pros. Rush Soccer on Monday announced it would seek a new partner,

Penn FC is 13th in the Eastern Conference and already eliminated from the playoffs with two matches remaining against New York Red Bulls II on Tuesday and Toronto FC II on Saturday.
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