Another MiLB team is entering the pro soccer business, as the Tacoma Rainiers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and the Seattle Sounders (MLS) will collaborate on a USL team and a soccer-specific stadium adjacent to Cheney Stadium.
More details at our sister site, Soccer Stadium Digest.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding announced today, the existing Seattle Sounders 2 team will be rebranded with a Tacoma-specific identity. The goal is to open a new, 5,000-seat soccer-specific stadium by the 2020 season, with the Sounders supplying the on-field product and the Rainiers running the business side. 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.
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. But this is the first such agreement where the baseball team will run a soccer-specific stadium. Currently USL teams play at MiLB facilities in Reno, Louisville, Tulsa and Harrisburg, while the Tampa Bay Rowdies play out of Al Lang Stadium, a former MiLB and MLB spring-training facility.
“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.
Rendering courtesy Seattle Sounders.