Cheney Stadium is set to embark on a new era, as the longtime baseball facility is about to host its first USL match for Sounders 2.
Last fall, it was announced that Sounders 2 will shift its home matches to Tacoma. That creates an arrangement in which MLS’s Seattle Sounders will own the team and supply players and coaches, while baseball’s Tacoma Rainiers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will oversee game-day and business operations.
The long-term goal is to move the USL club into a new soccer-specific stadium that would be constructed adjacent to Cheney Stadium. For at least the next couple of seasons, however, Sounders 2 will share Cheney Stadium with the Rainiers.
That presents another purpose for the facility and, with Sounders 2’s Tacoma opener scheduled for Friday, March 16, work has been taking place to ensure that Cheney Stadium can handle the transition between baseball and soccer. Thus far, Sounders 2 players are offering very positive feedback about their new home. More from The News Tribune:
The first United Soccer League match on that grass will be played Friday night at 7, when S2 faces Portland Timbers 2. The forecast is calling for a crowd of raucous fans enjoying optimum sight lines in a ballpark reconfigured for strikes of a different kind.
Gone will be the mound and the basepaths, covered by temporary sodding seamlessly installed to blend in with the rest of the field.
“Magnificent,” veteran midfielder David Estrada said of the conversion. “Kudos to the people who made it happen.”
Cheney Stadium groundskeeper Michael Huie oversees the many people who will make soccer happen 17 times before the regular season concludes on Oct. 10.
Though Cheney Stadium is new to the USL scene, it has a very long track record in Minor League Baseball. It originally opened in 1960 and underwent an extensive renovation in 2011, with that overhaul capturing a Renovation of the Year from our sister site, Ballpark Digest.
Rendering of soccer at Cheney Stadium courtesy Seattle Sounders FC.