Seattle Reign FC announced Wednesday that it will move to Tacoma, Washington and play home matches in Cheney Stadium beginning in 2019. Also, the club will now be known as Reign FC.
Cheney Stadium, built in 1960, is also home to the Tacoma Rainiers of Minor League Baseball and Tacoma Defiance (formerly Seattle Sounders FC 2) of the United Soccer League. The Tacoma Defiance began playing their home games at Cheney Stadium in 2018. Cheney Stadium has a capacity of 6,500, with a grass field playing surface.
“We spent a lot of time inside Cheney Stadium to imagine the matchday experience we could provide,” Reign FC owner and president Bill Predmore said in the team’s press release announcing the changes. “We can say with certainty that the experience our players and fans will have at Cheney Stadium will be an exponential jump from what we could deliver at Memorial Stadium.”
Predmore continued: “We worked incredibly hard over the past year to find a solution that would allow us to continue playing our home matches in Seattle, but the requirements imposed by the NWSL limited our options. … Out of these challenging circumstances arose an opportunity that fills us with great optimism for our future.”
In addition to the new name and new venue, the ownership group of Reign FC will expand. The operating group of the Rainiers and Defiance, which is led by Rainiers chairman and CEO Mikal Thomsen, will take a minority ownership stake in Reign FC. Also, Seattle Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer and his mother, Lenore Hanauer, will make a separate minority investment in Reign FC.
“Adrian and Lenore have both been supportive of our club since its inception, so we are excited to welcome them to the Reign FC ownership group,” Predmore said. “The renewed strength of the ownership group will provide long-term stability, support and strategic leadership that will ensure that Reign FC is able to achieve success both on and off the pitch.”
Predmore made the announcement at a press conference at Cheney Stadium, alongside Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe. They were joined by Thomsen, Tacoma mayor Victoria Woodards, Rainers president and owner Aaron Artman and Seattle Sounders GM and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey, among others, as part of a larger announcement about sports in Tacoma.
“Can you believe that right here in Tacoma we’re getting a professional women’s soccer team?” Woodards said after announcing the news. “Let’s be frank with one another. Women have not always gotten the most investment in sports, but here in Tacoma, we’re going to get it right. We’re making investments, not just in the sport, but in the women who play the sport, and they deserve to play in spaces that are just as great as the fields and stadiums that we have built for men’s sports teams and that’s what we’ll do in Tacoma. So those of you who know me, know that I say, we can’t do it alone. We’ve got to make this successful together. So let’s all come together. It’s already happening, but let’s make sure that in Tacoma, it is the most successful in the country and we can do that together.”
Artman said at Wednesday’s press conference that Reign FC will train at Foss High School in Tacoma.
“I’ll speak on behalf the team. [I] had conversations with different players, kind of wrapping our head around the move. We genuinely are so excited about this move. I think we see the huge upside and potential that this can offer our club. Everyone is really thrilled to, first of all, play on grass. This is going to add five years to my career,” Rapinoe said with a smile. “It seems like a huge opportunity for the club and to grow the game and for women’s football in general.”
Predmore said the name change to “Reign FC” is to represent the entire region. “Tacoma will be our home, but we’ll invest significant effort to retain our connection to Seattle and the Eastside,” he said in the press release.
Predmore also expressed excitement about the move to Tacoma, a city located on Puget Sound south of Seattle, and the potential that the city and the new partnerships hold for Reign FC. Sounders FC and the Rainiers previously reached an agreement to build a new facility in Tacoma, a 5,000 seat venue on the Cheney Stadium site. Reign FC said that the Metro Parks Tacoma Board and Tacoma City Council have approved feasibility studies of the project, and those studies are underway.
“Over the last year we spent a significant amount of time with the group operating the Rainiers and Sounders FC’s USL squad. We found their vision for growing the game in Tacoma extremely compelling. The more we talked, the more we believed Tacoma could be an ideal long-term option for our organization,” he said.
“Tacoma is a city on the rise. It has an understated charm, many areas of undeniable beauty, and has incredible potential to be the next great city in the Pacific Northwest. It ultimately became clear that Tacoma was the best possible option for our organization.”
Earlier this month, Reign FC announced a new presenting jersey partner in Zulily, a Seattle based online retailer. Zulily will also be the front jersey sponsor for Seattle Sounders FC.
Additionally, the Reign FC online store is live with new 2019 Reign FC merchandise. Fans can visit ReignFCshop.com to shop.
Fans can also visit reignfc.com/tickets to place a deposit on season tickets. The 2019 NWSL season will kick off the weekend of April 13-14.
“We are the newest citizens of the Tacoma community, so we’ll do everything we can to help the city realize its full potential. We are thrilled to call the city our new home.”
In an open letter posted on their website, written by Bill and Teresa Predmore, they addressed Reign FC fans and explained the changes. They also said the team plans to hold free open training sessions in Seattle each month.
Beginning with the 2019 @NWSL season, @ReignFC will play its home matches at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. Owners Bill and Teresa Predmore penned an open letter to fans & supporters of the club detailing the move.
— Seattle Reign FC (@ReignFC) January 30, 2019
“We truly believe the best is yet to come, and we are hopeful that you will continue to support Reign FC as we make this incredible journey forward,” they wrote. [Read the full letter]