TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The Seattle Reign FC are relocating to Tacoma in time to play the 2019 season in a new home.
The relocation announced Wednesday is part of a larger partnership between the NWSL team, the Seattle Sounders of the MLS and the Tacoma Rainiers Triple-A baseball franchise. The Reign will play their games at Cheney Stadium for the 2019 season with the hopes of eventually moving into a soccer-specific facility.
The Reign will share Cheney Stadium with the Sounders’ USL franchise, which has been rebranded as the Tacoma Defiance.
The NWSL team is also dropping Seattle from its name and will just be known as Reign FC.
Majority owner Bill Predmore announced minority investment from Mikal Thomsen, owner of the Rainiers, and the family of Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer.
“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,” said Predmore. “Out of these challenging circumstances arose an opportunity that fills us with great optimism for our future.”
The Reign had played at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium since 2014 but a combination of an outdated facility, stagnant attendance and a partnership with the other teams led them to move 30 miles south of Seattle. Predmore said the team had been looking for a new facility for about a year and the partnership made sense. The Reign will also train at a high school in Tacoma.
Reign star Megan Rapinoe joked that the chance to play on grass at Cheney Stadium — rather than an artificial surface in Seattle — may help extend her career by five years.
A new stadium in Tacoma is still dependent on a feasibility study and would be built in a partnership involving the franchises and the city.