ATLANTIC CITY — After playing its first season at Stockton University, the Atlantic City Football Club wants to make Surf Stadium, the former home of the Atlantic City Surf baseball team, its permanent digs starting in 2020.
The club, which had its inaugural season in 2018, announced Thursday it was working with the city to finalize plans.
Lisa Ryan, spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Affairs, said nothing is definite.
“The city is in very preliminary conversations with Atlantic City FC, and no agreement has been signed,” Ryan said. “The city has advised Atlantic City FC to submit an application for use of Surf Stadium. Upon its receipt, the City will review the application to determine if the stadium can accommodate the needs of the soccer club.”
The soonest the stadium would be available is Aug. 3 of this year, the date of the National Premier Soccer League’s championship game.
If the team qualifies, club co-owner Andrew Weilgus said, the championship will be held there.
“While this process is not yet complete, we are optimistic we’ll have an agreement reached soon to usher in a new era for this tremendous facility,” Weilgus.
Weilgus said the stadium could already host soccer games but that upper-level seating currently limits capacity from 5,000 to around just 3,500.
Renovations, along with lighting and field upgrades, would bring the total cost of the project to approximately $4 million.
The club plans to seek private donors and corporate sponsors to help fund these renovations.
Tropicana Atlantic City, the club’s parent sponsor, has been supportive of ACFC from the beginning, Weiglus said.
“I’ve gotten to understand that casinos would really love the format of a two-hour sporting event that doesn’t have overtime (and only) goes on 16 times a year,” he said. “They have indicated interesting in (renovating the stadium).”
“We’re incredibly blessed that the Tropicana support has been overwhelming,” Weilgus added.
The club will start its Atlantic City Youth Soccer program this summer with free clinics run by players and coaches and continue in the fall with a “recreation and academy program.”
In addition to these programs, Weilgus said, the stadium could host soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and even concerts.
The Albany Avenue stadium opened in 1998.
Ahmad Austin of The Press’ staff contributed to this report.