It took over eight years for the Reign franchise to play its first game in Seattle’s crown-jewel stadium, the downtown venue currently known as Lumen Field. Now, OL Reign will play all National Women’s Soccer League home matches at the 68,000-plus seat stadium going forward.
On Wednesday, the club announced Lumen Field as its new home venue beginning in 2022, leaving behind the converted baseball field at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma for a return to Seattle. It is a change which will see one of the NWSL’s original franchises solve an existential problem regarding a permanent, suitable venue, an issue which drove the Reign to Tacoma in 2019 and which still hung over its head at Cheney Stadium. Moving to Lumen Field — which is home to the NFL’s Seahawks and MLS’ Sounders, who have long been at or near the top of league attendance — gets the Reign out of the NWSL’s worst remaining venue and into a stadium whose atmosphere is among the best in American soccer.
“I think from day one, where we play our home games has been a huge challenge for us,” Reign CEO Bill Predmore told The Equalizer. “I will say, I have always envied the clubs that didn’t have to worry about that, that it occupied 0% of their time to make sure they had a great place for their team to play. Throughout our history, that has been a continual challenge.”
Playing at Lumen Field has been a goal for Predmore, who with wife Teresa was the founding co-owner of the franchise in late 2012, since the beginning. Financially, however, that was an impossible task in the lean, early days of the NWSL. OL Groupe, the Reign’s new primary owners as of early 2020, removed that hurdle with what Predmore called a seven-figure investment to make Lumen Field the team’s home.
Lumen Field will initially be configured for 10,000 fans for Reign games, but that is relatively easy to expand as needed — which is obviously the goal — Predmore said. The Reign announced an attendance of over 27,000 for the doubleheader with the Sounders on August 29, when each team hosted its respective Portland rival. Afterward, Megan Rapinoe was vocal about that atmosphere and venue being what players deserve every game.
“What it meant to play there, we didn’t really know what that would look like and how it would feel,” Reign head coach Laura Harvey told The Equalizer this week. “And it just felt right, it felt like we belonged. That, for me and for the players, really gave us a taste of what it could feel like.”
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