South Sound soccer fans rejoiced earlier this year when they learned Sounders 2 would be relocating from Tukwila to Tacoma in 2020. That excitement was reinforced Wednesday evening when the Tacoma Rainiers and Seattle Sounders FC announced the team would be making its move two years in advance, just in time for the 2018 season.
Representatives from the Tacoma Rainiers, Seattle Sounders FC, and City of Tacoma were joined Wednesday at Doyle’s Public House by local soccer fans, members of the press, and others to announce the early welcome to the Sounders 2.
“As you probably paid attention to in the last two years, there’s been some news about the Sounders and Rainiers joining forces to eventually launch S2 in Tacoma in 2020,” said Tacoma Rainiers president Aaron Artman. “We have some great news — we’re actually going to get a head start on that, and S2 will officially play Cheney Stadium beginning next March, in 2018.”
“This is super exciting for us,” said Seattle Sounders FC general manager and president of soccer, Garth Lagerwey, who was part of a panel consisting of Artman, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Tacoma City Councilmember Ryan Mello, retired United States Congressman Norm Dicks, and Sounders Community Trust president Kyle Boyd. “Now to be in Tacoma to play our matches here and to be able to introduce ourselves to a whole new audience, it’s so cool for us.”
As a feeder team of the Seattle Sounders, Lagerwey said he sees this partnership as a way to further cultivate local talent.
“Now that we have this formal process, we really want to be able to reach and touch every kid that might aspire to play soccer anywhere in the Puget Sound region,” Lagerwey said. “And that makes this opportunity in Tacoma really, really exciting for us, as we start to develop the stars of tomorrow in Tacoma.”
In addition to serving as a launchpad for local athletes, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland said Sounders 2 is a huge win for South Sound soccer fans.
“When we think about hosting S2 here in Tacoma, what we’re talking about is making professional sports more accessible to more people,” Mayor Strickland said. “We know for a fact that there are a lot of Sounders fans in Tacoma who travel up to Seattle to watch the Sounders games. But now we can expand that fan base and make it accessible to young people down here, and maybe to people who don’t have the means to go travel up to Seattle to see the Sounders.”
Plans for a dedicated Sounders 2 field are in the works, but when the March 2018 season starts Sounders 2 will play on a modified version of the field at Cheney Stadium. Working together with Sounders FC, Metro Parks, and the City of Tacoma, Artman said he’s confident Cheney Stadium will be more successful in converting to a soccer field than any other baseball stadium in the country.
“You’re not going to see pitchers’ mounds; you’re not going to see any infield dirt,” he said. “We’re really excited to bring in the passion that we see in soccer, and particularly at Sounders matches, to Tacoma.”