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Maybe ‘Project X’ Is a Pro Women’s Soccer Team. (And Maybe It Is Not.)

On Wednesday, the City Council will vote on a deal to bring a professional sports team to the Cotton Bowl. It appears to be a new women’s pro-soccer league, but maybe the mystery of 'Project X' will continue to linger.
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The last soccer game played at the Cotton Bowl was between FC Dallas and Inter Miami in January. Could a new deal to put a professional sports team in the historic stadium involve a new women's soccer league? Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When the mysterious “Project X” appeared on a Dallas City Council committee agenda in late March, we (along with a lot of other people) began guessing about who it involved. Council members were tight-lipped because the discussion involved attorneys and was held in closed session.

Maybe the Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Sports Recruitment and Retention and the Council Economic Development Committee was discussing strategies to keep the Mavs in town past their 2030 lease end with American Airlines Center.

Or maybe Mayor Eric Johnson’s interest in the negotiations around the Kansas City Chiefs’ stadium in Kansas City was a Dallas Texans shaped clue. 

And then the city announced that the Dallas Wings would move from Arlington to Dallas, where they will begin playing at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Memorial Arena after the 2025 season. That was surely Project X, right?

No. No it was not. The Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Sports Recruitment and Retention had another meeting about Project X last week. We confirmed then that Project X was not Wings-related. We entertained a few other potential theories — another MLS franchise, or maybe cricket.

But maybe our long local speculation is finally at an end. The Council is set to vote on a deal that would allow a new professional sports team to use the Cotton Bowl for its season, with the city providing an annual subsidy “not to exceed $296,000 per year” for the next two years to Fair Park First and operators Oak View Group for expenses related to accommodating the new team.

The resolution the Council will vote on doesn’t name the team, but the Dallas Morning News floated the idea that it was the Dallas franchise for a new women’s pro-soccer league—the USL Super League. Nobody would comment on the record, and when we asked the PR firm associated with the as-yet unnamed Dallas club if this was Project X and if the team would be calling the Cotton Bowl home, but they also could not confirm that Project X and the Dallas USL Super League team were one and the same.

“It’s my understanding that Project X has been used historically to refer to different projects through the years,” said Angela Lang with Tony Fay PR.

Here’s what we do know:

The franchise, which is owned by the Neil family, will reveal the team name, logo, and more details during an event at Klyde Warren Park Thursday morning. We profiled the Neils last summer.

The league has been teasing a big announcement on Twitter with the hashtag “NewBootsInTown.” It features a countdown to Thursday, and the numbers are photos of Dallas locations, including Deep Ellum, Fair Park, Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and the Pegasus.

The Cotton Bowl has hosted soccer before—FC Dallas played there for six years straight, and then for parts of 2004 and 2005. More recently, it hosted a game between FC Barcelona and Club America last year and Club Atlético River Plate vs. C.F. Monterrey and a game between FC Dallas and Inter Miami FC in January.

So far, the Dallas team has not signed any players, according to the league’s signing tracker.

In addition to Dallas-Fort Worth, the first season will include teams from Charlotte, North Carolina; Lexington, Kentucky; Phoenix; Spokane, Washington; Tampa Bay, Florida; Tucson, Arizona; and Washington D.C. Subsequent seasons will add teams from Chattanooga, Tennessee; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Florida; Madison, Wisconsin; and Oakland, California.

However, there is one big reason why the council’s Wednesday vote may not be about soccer at all. The Cotton Bowl is currently undergoing extensive renovations that will be complete by the fall of 2025. The USL Super League plans to kick off its inaugural season in August of this year, which likely means that if the Dallas franchise is the team headed for the Cotton Bowl, it’ll need to find temporary quarters for its first season and part of the second.

In conclusion, this could be Project X, or it could be another red herring. The unnamed sports team moving into the Cotton Bowl may be Dallas’ newest women’s soccer team, or it could be someone else entirely. But speculating is fun, right?

And, before we leave you, some clarity around the MLS idea we floated. FC Dallas holds the market rights, which means MLS couldn’t expand or relocate another team to the North Texas market. They’re staying put in Frisco, and the next expansion will be San Diego—not Dallas proper.

Author

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.
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