Harder Stadium has a seating capacity of 17,000. | Credit: Paul Wellman

Harder Stadium will serve as the home of Santa Barbara Sky FC for the club’s inaugural season in the United Soccer League beginning in March 2025. 

UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Sky FC have announced a multi-year agreement that will bring professional soccer to the Central Coast. 

“Harder Stadium on our beautiful UC Santa Barbara campus has long been recognized as Soccer Heaven, and we are thrilled to grow that rich history and support our engaged soccer community by partnering with Santa Barbara Sky FC,” said Kelly Barsky, the John and Jody Arnhold Director of Athletics at UC Santa Barbara. “We align in our vision to serve and support community through a world-class soccer experience and will now be able to provide that year-round.”

Harder Stadium is the home to the UC Santa Barbara men’s and women’s soccer teams and has hosted two College Cup National Championships in 2010 and 2018. In addition, UC Santa Barbara is preparing to host an English friendly between Wrexham FC and Bournemouth AFC on July 20. The Santa Barbara Sky FC will begin play at Harder Stadium as a member of the USL League One. More information including schedule and ticketing will be available closer to the start of the season. The club is also looking to add a women’s franchise in the future. 

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to call UC Santa Barbara’s Harder Stadium home for our inaugural season and beyond,” said Peter Moore, founding owner of the Santa Barbara Sky FC. “There isn’t a finer soccer-specific collegiate stadium on the West Coast, and it’s a befitting venue for the Santa Barbara community to enjoy top-class professional soccer. We look forward to working with the university to build upon the amazing soccer legacy that the Gaucho program has built here in Santa Barbara over the past two decades.”

The United Soccer League (USL), in which Santa Barbara SKY FC will be joining, is the largest professional soccer organization in North America. That structure includes three professional leagues: USL Championship (men; 24 teams in 2024), USL League One (men; 12 teams in 2024) and USL Super League (women). Santa Barbara Sky FC will compete in USL League One. 

“It’s very exciting to see Santa Barbara Sky FC join forces with UC Santa Barbara to write the next chapter in the storied history of Harder Stadium,” said USL Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Chief Real Estate Officer Justin Papadakis. “As the league continues to grow nationally, it’s encouraging to see clubs find their place in their respective communities. We’re confident Sky FC will truly be able to impact the entire Santa Barbara community and showcase world-class professional soccer at Harder Stadium, one of the finest soccer-specific stadiums in California.”

The Santa Barbara Sky Foundation (S.B. Fundación Cielo) is one of the ways the club will look to give back to the community. In addition, by having the club on the campus of UC Santa Barbara, new opportunities will be available for students to intern and learn and gain valuable experience in professional sports. 

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