Swayed by a $4 million stadium investment from the league, the Spokane Public Facilities District opted to lease a new stadium to the USL for a League One team over a bid from Brett Sports for a MLS Next Pro team.
The district is partnering with the Spokane schools for a new $31 million stadium to house high-school athletics and professional soccer. The district received bids from the USL and Brett Sports, a local firm that owns Minor League Baseball’s Spokane Indians, and based on a grading system awarded the lease to the USL. A key part of that USL bid: a pledge to put $4 million upfront toward stadium construction, as well as a promise of a women’s team. Brett Sports, meanwhile, offered a $200,000 annual lease, plus 7% of net ticket sales. From the Spokesman-Review:
The articulation of the investments was very significant,” board chair Marty Dickinson said after the vote. “I think it’s important to bring outside investment into this community, and I want to emphasize that they felt like a really good partner who was ready to do this with us.”
Board member Nathaniel Greene said he was impressed by the USL’s commitment to bringing a women’ team to Spokane and its commitment to “to include minorities and other underrepresented people.”
Dickinson added that “the women’s side of things is definitely in the forefront. They (the USL) are ahead of the game, compared to where we were with the other party.”
Two slight hitches. First, the USL was bidding and making commitments on behalf of the league; there’s no owner in place. Second, the 2023 opening date is more aspirational than a firm deadline, contingent on the suitability of the site for construction.
Right now there is only one western USL League One team–in Tucson–but the makeup of the league will be changing in 2022 and 2023 after the fallout from the announcement of the new MLS Division III league.