Seattle Reign FC announces Starfire Stadium as home venue

Liviu Bird January 23, 2013 36

Starfire Stadium, home of Seattle Reign FC in 2013. (Photo: StarfireSports.com)

SEATTLE — Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash., could be home to two high-profile women’s soccer teams this summer. Seattle Reign FC announced on Wednesday that it would play its home games at Starfire, where the Seattle Sounders Women played in recent years.

Map of the Starfire Sports complex, with the stadium in the bottom left-hand corner and Seattle Sounders FC training facilities on the right-hand side. (Photo: StarfireSports.com)

In addition, Reign FC announced its season ticket prices for 11 league matches and two friendlies at its home venue. Prices range from $195 (bleacher seats) to $286 (midfield covered grandstand) and will be sold exclusively on its website, the URL for which still redirects to the club’s Facebook page for now.

Starfire is about 12 miles from downtown Seattle. Seattle Sounders FC plays its U.S. Open Cup matches in the stadium and has its training facilities in the back section of the field complex.

The Sounders Women are expected to be back at Starfire for the 2013 USL W-League season, although no official announcement has been made. Starfire Director of Business Development and Tournaments Teddy Mitalas rejoined the Sounders Women staff as director of community relations in October after serving as head coach in previous years.

UPDATE: 10:45 p.m. ET | The Seattle Reign FC website is now live.


  • Steglitz49

    Nice picture. Looks like a smaller version of Stade de France with the open bit at the back.

    Please explain something for a bear of little brain. You write “Reign FC announced its season ticket prices for 11 league matches and two friendlies at its home venue.” Seeing that there are 8 teams in the NWSL, does that not make it 7 home games, not 11? Once NWSL expands to 12 teams it will be 11 home matches. I am obviously not taking something into account.

    • randomhookup

      NWSL has announced each team will play the other 3 times and have one regional rival (in this case, Portland) that it will play again. Otherwise, they only play 14 matches (home & home) or they play 28 (which costs a lot more). US leagues are notorious for not always balancing out the schedule with an exact number of home/road games. Thus why we see the playoff tournament as the fairest way to decide the title.

      • Steglitz49

        Thanks for the explanation mate! Something similar has been discussed for ladies soccer in Sweden where two teams are in the far north (with a 3rd joining them this season) and three teams in the deep south. I have heard of a couple of “home” matched being played at the “away” team because the northern team anyway was down south, but I do not know it that is true or just a tall story.

        Regionalized leagues; regionalized leagues. This is why USA needs a USAFA Cup. 128 teams round this great and wonderful country playing each other in knockout fashion. OK, if you always get drawn to be the away team, it is not financially realistic, so some central purse is needed. The first final has to have a white horse — maybe play that one at West Point?

    • http://twitter.com/liviubird Liviu Bird

      Here’s a better look at the seating situation at Starfire: http://www.starfiresports.com/wp-content/gallery/central-campus/starfire9-copy-2.jpg. The stands don’t wrap around.

      • Steglitz49

        Great picture. Thank you. Do not be despondent because once the Reign take off you will be building all around and then i tiers. OK. It may never be the Nou Camp or San Siro, but it could be a pretty little stadium along the lines of the Stockholm olympic one, still in use today after over a century, or the West Coast’s own little Highbury, if you prefer Art Deco to Nordic national-romanticism, but seeing the nordic influence in Seattle maybe some Viking-like structure would be just the ticket, though Margaret the Great was a bit post-viking. Better walk before we run, but either way NWSL needs bums on seats!

  • jlr

    So the Reign will play at Starfire and the Thorns will play at JELD-WEN. What happened to keeping costs for NWSL lower than WPS or WUSA by playing at less expensive venues? At least the Thorns are owned by the same folks as the Timbers, but the Reign aren’t owned by the same group as the Sounders. Will Starfire be affordable enough?

    • http://twitter.com/hercircumstance hercircumstance

      Sounders Women sold out or nearly sold out almost every game at Starfire, with or without the NT players this last spring. In soccer friendly cities like Seattle and Portland stadiums like that probably aren’t a big issue. Starfire is the perfect size and soccer specific. If they can afford that experience then good on them. It would be nice if they could do what Chicago did and occasionally have a game played on the other side of the city where it is more convenient for others though. Just a thought. In any case, Starfire is where they wanted and they got it so good on them.

    • Hillberry

      Starfire really isn’t that big. I think the capacity is around 4.5k. and like the other posters have said, the Sounders Women did really well there this spring.

    • Derek

      Thorns are approaching 6,000 season ticket deposits. Owner said he expects 10,000 as the average attendance. So if they can fill the stadium to paying customers, might as well.

      • Steglitz49

        Let’s hope they can average 10k/match. It would be wonderful. That number is as many as the combined average for the top 5 clubs in Germany last year!

        We need the same support for the other 7 clubs. Maybe the equalizer can keep a watching brief for us, so we can cheer as them coins clatter and pling into the coffers.

  • becca o

    I used to work at starfire it is not very expensive or fancy it was built with the idea of housing like State final matches.

  • Derek

    They’ll surely be able to sell more than 4500 for when they play Portland and possible WNY Flash. Wonder if they’d add some seats, they could add removable ones on the open areas.

    • Steglitz49

      Why not simply move to a bigger stadium?

      • randomhookup

        “Simply” doesn’t cut it in the US soccer market. There are only so many options. I don’t know the Seattle market, but it’s probably either this or CenturyLink, which seats 66k.

        The US just doesn’t have a lot of small soccer stadiums. You either use the one soccer specific stadium that seats 15-20k (if you are lucky enough to have one in your area) or you use a high school/college stadium that may or may not also be a “gridiron” stadium. I’m guessing here, but there are probably not more than 25 10k+ soccer specific stadiums in the US. Most of the bigger stadiums are dual purpose with American football.

        • Steglitz49

          PR wise which is better: 15,000 in the 66k stadium or turning away 10,000?

          • randomhookup

            PR doesn’t pay the rent. Financially, you’ll be better in the smaller stadium (probably) and having a stadium less than 1/4 full doesn’t look that great either. They may try it every now & then, but being smart financially makes more sense.

          • Steglitz49

            Verily. It is a headache in old Europe too. Some women teams play matches in big stadia where they only use one stand while the other 3 are empty and the doors locked so you only need to staff one part. Thus 500 to 2000 can rattle around in a 5000 seater section.

            PSG put a lot of advertising into their meeting with Lyon earlier this season in Paris. 1000 came. In 2011 Lyon moved the home-leg of their CL semi-final to the ground where their men play — 20k came (stadium seats the double) but the next year only 12k came for the home SF! Arsenal let their Ladies’ use their man ground from time to time. Last time for the match against Chelsea Ladies, but only 5000 came. Arsenal owns its ground so the bitter dregs of disappointment did not cost so much — but illustrates the mountain that women’s soccer has to climb in the UK (and Europe in generally).

          • Anthony Clauser

            Just to clarify soccer has a huge mountain to climb in the US also. Being able to draw huge crowds with the USWNT is only partially impressive.

            Also being able to hit 15,000+ fans just to see a hometown hero has some serious trade offs. If Wambach can draw 3-4k crowds every game I would be impressed. Keep in mind though that Rochester has a much better women’s soccer and soccer in general than any other city – Rochester drew large crowds for USWNT games long before Wambach was capped.

            You might say well “Seattle and Portland can draw large crowds too”. To which I would respond Rochester is 1/3rd the size of both cities and draws better crowds on a normal day, and crazy large crowds on a special day.

            I think that NWSL is doing all the major things right (even if they are using every last second to achieve their goals), and this could very well go down as the tipping point for soccer in general in America.

          • Steglitz49

            Your points are well taken. Judging by old Europe, the pattern is that where ladies’ soccer matches are (comparatively) well attended it is in places where there is no men’s team or the men’s team is abyssmal. To get their fill of live soccer, men will watch women as a last resort, seems to be one conclusion.

            The composition of the audience is also totally different. Briefly, for the women there is not the 20-35 year old singles as at a man’s game. Instead it is more of an outing for families and older couples, which might explain why the figures are so sensitive to econmoic factors.

            Thus, one way of ensuring success for the NWSL would be to persuade women to show solidarity with their sisters and go along to the matches for a couple of season and establish the league. Maybe this can happen in USA; it is not a feature in Europe.

            Women’s soccer is now the 4th most watched team sport on Swedish TV but the behavior and attitude of that audience is very different from the other three. Has anyone studied who watched women’s soccer on TV in USA? Maybe that can be exploited in selling advertising?

            In Japan and some European places the teams have picked up on the family aspects. Going to a ladies’ soccer match is a whole entertainment experience. In Japan, the women players linger after the match, have their pictures taken with youngsters in the audience and sign autographs. This can go on for quite a while. In England the FA are experimenting with the youngsters meeting the players before the match. I suppose in that rainy and foggy island queendom mingling after the game may not be so wonderful. Please, the “Commander” and Andreas give us your views of France and Germany.

            If any NWSL team can pull crowds of 3-4k each game, that team will be doing >50% better than Potsdam and Frankfurt in Germany and way above last season in Sweden where the median was 563 per macth with an IQR of 339-989.

            Finally, you make Rochester seem like USA’s answer to Umeå or Vittsjö. The bell-weather may be KC. If ladies’ soccer can make it in KC, maybe it can make it anywhere?

          • Anthony Clauser

            I’d just like to point out a few things on my behalf.

            I use Rochester as an example because I know the city very well since I have lived here most my life. I also use Rochester because we really do have a heart for soccer. When a USL team can get more fans than some MLS teams something of note is going on. People like quality, and being able to win a US Open Cup went a long way.

            Also I honestly don’t know much about soccer in the grand scheme of things. I’ve been watching it since at least 98 when Mia Hamm played here, but my favorite sports has always been football, and some hockey. Recently I stopped watching football and have grown a huge appreciation for soccer. I have not paid any real attention outside of the USWNT, but I hope to pick a Premier League team next season to watch an entire season of this awesome sport.

            That said I honestly don’t have a clue as to what you mean when you say “old Europe”. I would guess you mean that people don’t attend the women’s games.

            I would strongly agree about KC. Portland makes me very curious too. At this point they seem to be making me look like a fool. I would have never guessed the Timbers could draw any fans much less large crowds – It just doesn’t make sense to me because their USL team couldn’t draw any decent numbers.

            Ultimately I think it all comes down to quality of play. People watch the USWNT because they are the best in the world and basically always have been. People watch the WNY Flash because they have strong rosters. People watch soccer in Seattle because the city is committed to great soccer rosters. Portland is going to have a great soccer roster… I’m sure you see the trend I’m seeing.

            I also want to say I’m not sure what Rochester can draw. If I had to go on the record my guess would be something above 3k per game, and that’s without Wambach. Of course Wambach is going to be able to draw even bigger crowds. If that’s 50 extra people or 1k-14k more I have no idea. Hopefully 3.5k-4k all together, but I worry that’s a pipe dream – I hope I’m wrong though. On a side note I’m curious what Alex Morgan is going to draw when the Thorns visit – We might need the MetLife Stadium to accommodate that game lol.

          • Steglitz49

            Let’s hope that the crowds will turn up for the NWSL and establish the league. Also that the NWSL can take place in the media and get vital exposure.

            In Europe winds of change are blowing much prompted by Lyon’s success but possibly also owing to political pressure behind the scenes. Briefly, the wealthy men’s clubs are putting more money towards their ladies divisions (those of them that have one) and if this continues, the landscape of women’s soccer will change dramatically. It probably already has.

            Attendance at Euro-13 will be a good measure of the health of women’s soccer in Europe. The TV-audience for the ladies’ CL final may be another.

          • Derek

            Hopefully Vancouver is ready for 2014 (NWSL wants 2 more). I expect they’ll get a team, and they could be a great market as well. Canada needs a team or two.

          • Steglitz49

            Provided the NWSL can tear itself away from the fetters of tradition and contemplate big cities having more than one team, you could have a good little Sea-Otters regional league going around Puget sound and Oregon.

          • Derek

            Yes, I feel like it’d be more economical to get some temporary seats to add to the open sides, for games that are more attractive. So you can boost from 4500 to maybe 7500 or 8000 for the Portland/WNY matches. Who knows though, if they sell out every game maybe they’d add some seats for every game.

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/535519-nick-p nick price

    Starfire is an intimate venue which holds 4,500 spectators

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.prazak.9 Justin Prazak

    I’m expecting that the Reign will do pretty well in their first season in terms of filling seats. When it comes to 2014 or 2015 they might even be looking to expand (especially if the Seattle/Portland rivalry goes well). Does anyone know if it tends to be more cost effective to upgrade stadiums or build all new ones. I don’t think they will be ready for Century Link that soon, but I do think they will outgrow Starfire pretty quickly. What options might they have?

    • http://twitter.com/hercircumstance hercircumstance

      IMO they are probably too big for Starfire right now judging by how well a w-league team did there, but having a full stadium is way more fun than having a cavernous large one. The experience is just better. It may be they have to move to a larger venue for big games should it prove a problem and next year go somewhere bigger.

      • Steglitz49

        I agree with you. The Reign appear to be too big for Starfire. We are continually being told how soccer crazy Seattle is and the Reign will be the only women’s team playing in the NWSL. Portland is near enough that traveling fans are a possibility for sea-otter derbys.

        In its glory days Umeå (population ca 50k) averaged just short of 4000 per home game with the peak attendance almost 9000. On the other hand, last season Potsdam and Frankfurt each av ca 2500 per home game and so far this season the German league are down almost 25%. So, it is not easy to be categorical.

        With temporary seating for the top matches, Starfire may well fit the bill. Maybe the Portland matches to be played in the Seahawks’ arena?

        • sol1711

          steglitz49, die zuschauerzahlen sind nicht um 25% gesuncken.
          bis jetzt haben 61000 zuschauer, http://www.framba.de, die spiele der bundesliga verfolgt.
          das sind 5300 mehr als im vorjahr.
          du musst bedenken, das die bundesliga ab november immer weniger zuschauer, wegen dem winter, hat.
          den anders als in den staaten wo die liga nur 5 monate spielt, und meistens bei gutem wetter, spielt die bundesliga fasst das ganze jahr durch.

          • Steglitz49

            The attendances at German ladies’ matches is a bleak fraction compared to their men’s games in spite of low ticket prices. The average attendances during the last 3 seasons has grown from 766 to 836 to 1121 last season but this should be compared with the peak average attendances in Sweden (ca 1/9th pop) where in 2003, 04 & 05 the figures were 922, 1127 and 1110. It may well be that this spring the German ladies’ figures can grow even more, but that is far from sure. It is a frightening fact that in Sweden, in spite of the NT doing reasonably well and the 2 Swedish teams are again in the CL QFs, nevertheless, average figures at league matches have continued to fall and the median is now 563 (IQR 339 to 989).

            The challenge for the NWSL is to ensure that all who have asked for season tickets actually buy them. The next challenge will then be to fix up the stadia so all can attend! According to writers on this forum, there either small stadia or very large stadia in USA, but no intermediate soccer ones. This makes managing expectations and PR most awkward.

          • sol1711

            lieber kleine preise, so wie in der deutschen fussball bundesliga männer und frauen, und jeder kann die spiele verfolgen.
            in england kann nur der mittelstand zum fussball gehen, die ticket preise sind so hoch in england, das in deutschland schon der witz gebracht wird, das die fussballer nur vor earls und lords spielen.

          • Steglitz49

            It is, verily, an oddity that the land of the FA Cup (140 years old last year) that made soccer the people’s game because of its entry criteria, have succeeded in making its Premier league beyond the pocket of all but the wealthiest. I blame the rules of ownership.

            Man Utd and Liverpool belong to American business interests, while Man City and Chelsea to wealthy foreigners. Germany has preferred a different system of club ownership, though Hoffenheim are stretching the concept to breaking point, perhaps beyond, while VW have towed the line. Clearly, at the end of the day, ends must meet as Duisburg are learning the hard way.

            Let’s trust that the NWSL can manage their success — or lack of it, as well — and build a strong league, yeehaw!

          • sol1711

            ob es eine starke liga ist, zeigt sich erst in 5 jahren.
            so lange hat noch keine pro liga der frauen in den usa bestanden.
            die deutsche frauen bundesliga gibt es seit 22 jahren, ja ich weiss ich wiederhole mich, und die schwedische liga gibt es seit 24 jahren.
            erst mal nachmachen.

          • Steglitz49

            Your implication, that the NWSL is a giant training camp to ensure that USA has a strong team in WC-15 (and Canada and Mexico as a side-effect), is shared by a number of neutral observers.

            Whether the NWSL can survive beyond the 2016 Olympics will be interesting to learn. That survival problem is in the hands of the people because if they go along to the matches, all will be well. But. Will they?

          • sol1711

            hab ich noch vergessen, man utd hat 500 millionen euro schulden und liverpool hat 300 millionen euro schulden, ob es so erstrebenswert ist das sich amerikanische heuschrecken für fussballvereine interessieren, ist sehr sehr fraglich

          • Steglitz49

            Foreign ownership is affecting the FAWSL. It used to be that English ladies’ teams only signed players from the British Isles, clearly an unwritten gentlemen’s agreement fixed in a smoke filled room. No longer so. These last few months Liverpool and Chelsea have been signing foreign players, including from USA. These two teams are in the hands of foreign baliffs and prelates — Liverpool belongs to the American Red Sox conglomerate while Chelsea to a business tycoon. Man City may be going the same way.

            At some point, UEFA must read the teams the riot act. How this would afect north-American soccer in not obvious.