OL Reign will play their 2022 home slate at Lumen Field, the club announced Wednesday.
Bill Predmore, the club founder and current CEO, was joined by a host of dignitaries, including Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell, outgoing mayor Jenny Durkan, King County executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Sports Commission president Beth Knox, in making the announcement at the stadium.
In their nine seasons in the National Women’s Soccer League, the Bold have called Starfire Sports in Tukwila, Memorial Stadium in downtown Seattle and most recently Cheney Stadium in Tacoma home. None of the venues adequately showcased the world-class athletes who’ve populated the roster since 2013 while also representing their respective countries for Olympic gold medal wins and World Cup championships.
The Sounders FC, Tacoma Rainiers, Metro Parks Tacoma, and the City of Tacoma were recently working alongside the Reign to build a soccer-specific facility to seat 10,000 in Tacoma. The original plan was for the facility to be ready for the 2022 NWSL season. Instead, those talks stalled amid the pandemic, but Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer alluded to the facility materializing in the near future.
“We are grateful for the support of the community in Tacoma, and especially for the efforts of all the individuals and organizations who worked so hard on the new stadium project,” Predmore said in a news release. “In particular, the support of (Tacoma) Mayor (Victoria) Woodards — who from the start was our biggest fan in Tacoma — will always be appreciated by our organization.”
Predmore and OL Groupe, the majority owner of the Reign, said a move to Lumen Field is a better investment for the team. The facility seats about 68,000 and was built to house the NFL’s Seahawks and Sounders.
The latter held a Cascadia doubleheader in August with the Reign against Portland’s Timbers and Thorns FC. The event drew a NWSL-record 27,248 people to the Reign match. The Bold midfielder Megan Rapinoe scored a brace in the 2-1 win against the Thorns.
But for the official move, the Regin agreed to gradually grow attendance capacity beginning with just opening the facility’s lower east stadium bowl. Club seating and suites will also be available.
Ticket prices begin at $15 per match and are available to purchase now by calling (866) 997-3446 or online at olreign.com/tickets.
The bulk of NWSL’s season does parallel MLS’s. The Sounders will open at Lumen Field on Feb. 27 against Nashville SC and the remainder of the league schedule is expected to be announced Wednesday.
MLS will host its title game on Nov. 5 — a match Seattle could theoretically host — to clear way for players called to represent their countries in the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The FIFA tournament begins Nov. 21.
“The doubleheader was an incredibly emotional day for the entire team, but especially for those of us that have been with the club since the beginning,” Reign original Lu Barnes said in a news release. “We imagined the day for a long time, so it was amazing to finally see it happen. The match gave us a glimpse of what our future could be if the team returned to Seattle. We are so happy that we’ll be back in Seattle and playing at Lumen Field.”
OL Reign averaged 5,433 fans during the 2021 season at Cheney. The 6,500-seat facility was built for minor league baseball and was also the home for former USL Championship side Tacoma Defiance.
The largest crowd to see a Reign match at Cheney this season was 5,273 for the NWSL playoff loss against the Washington Spirit in November. The Bold reconfigured the facility to host 7,479 for a World Cup Homecoming match against the Chicago Red Stars in 2019.
Fans weren’t permitted to attend matches in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Having (OL Reign) back will help inspire current and future generations of soccer stars right here in Seattle,” Constantine said in a news release. “I’m looking forward to being in the stands with my family to cheer them on as they fight to bring home the NWSL Championship next year.”
Article Source: The Seattle Times