The MLS Seattle Sounders FC and the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers baseball team will collaborate on a Tacoma USL team (replacing Seattle Sounders FC 2) and stadium adjacent to Cheney Stadium, with the Sounders running the player side and the Rainiers managing the business side.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the Sounders 2 will be rebranded with a Tacoma-specific identity. The goal is to open the new, 5,000-seat soccer-specific stadium by the 2020 season. The design is from Populous, which oversaw the most recent renovations to Cheney Stadium as well as the design for MLS venues in Orlando, Houston and Kansas City.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be moving forward with the Tacoma Rainiers and City of Tacoma, progressing toward construction of a soccer-specific stadium,” Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer said in a press release. “Our vision of having players begin their time with the club playing at Starfire with the Academy, then move up to the USL team with matches in Tacoma, before finally getting the call-up to the First Team at CenturyLink Field – all while playing within the Puget Sound region – really reinforces our commitment to bringing quality soccer to the communities of Western Washington.”
The collaboration model is not new in MLS or USL: similar agreements exist between USL clubs Rio Grande Valley FC and Reno 1868 FC and Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes, respectively. And we know there has been similar discussions between other MLS teams and potential business partners in the baseball world.
“This is the art of the possible,” Rainiers President Aaron Artman said. “What can we create, with our community and our partners, that adds to Tacoma’s current trajectory? Now that both parties have agreed on a structure to move forward – as one entity representing USL soccer in Tacoma – it gives us the ability to work together to try to deliver a first-class stadium experience.”
This is not a done deal, however, and while there is talk of a public-private partnership, the exact parameters of that partnership needs to be presented to the city.
Sounders 2 currently plays at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. The Tacoma USL team would continue to train there even if a new stadium opens.
Rendering courtesy Seattle Sounders.