Seattle may compete with Portland for the title of Soccer City USA, but Tacoma is now apparently where all the footy lives.
The South Sound berg welcomed Seattle Sounders FC 2 to town last year from Tukwila. On Wednesday afternoon, a slew of dignitaries announced the Seattle Reign FC women’s club will join the no-longer-S2 in the City of Destiny. Both will play in a new soccer-specific venue set to open in the spring of 2021.
That’s right: Sounders 2 is no more. Long live the TACOMA DEFIANCE!
The Sounders USL side made good on their word to rebrand to embrace the community. The name Defiance proved most popular when the team asked for fan input last fall. It’s a perfect reference to the land that hosts the city’s popular urban park and zoo. It’s just as perfect for the city’s spirit and ruggedness inherent from its earliest days as a logging town, a deep water port, and a railroad hub.
In a break from the parent club, the Defiance unveiled a black and white color scheme for their new identity. Their primary logo features a ship, the U.S.S. Point Defiance, surrounded by ominous tentacles in the Sounders signature Rave Green emerging from the water. It’s homage to the Giant Pacific octopi native to Puget Sound, as well to local legend of the world’s largest octopus living under the nearby Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Squinting just right, the Defiance may have just stolen the thunder from champions of the name Kraken for the NHL’s new Seattle team. In a jovial exchange with KING5-TV reporter Chris Daniels, Tacoma Rainiers general Manager Aaron Artman said the club had seen rumors of an octopus/tentacle theme for hockey and beat them to the punch. “It’s definitely off-limits now,” Artman quipped.
The Defiance will take the field at Cheney Stadium for the 2019 USL Championship season starting March 8th. They’ll be joined by the rebranded Reign FC, who have dropped Seattle from their name to take on a regional identity. Speaking to reporters, owner Bill Predmore admitted the club had searched for new opportunities away from Seattle’s Memorial Stadium. They had also considered moving the team out of state before Tacoma arose as an preferred home base. And there is talk that U.S. Open Cup play will grace the grass pitch this year.
Cheney Stadium received major kudos for being one of the most successful baseball-to-soccer conversion stadiums in the country. As home to baseball’s Tacoma Rainiers, it also helps connect many dots.
The Rainiers have taken over business operations of the Defiance on behalf of the Sounders. Rainiers ownership has invested in minority ownership of Reign FC. Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer and his mother Lenore were also announced as new minority owners. Synergy between all of the Tacoma organizations should not be a concern.
The panel didn’t discuss a specific location for the new venue but feasibility studies are nearly complete. Heidelberg/Davis Park near Cheney Stadium is the expected site.
Additionally, Tacoma-based MultiCare Health System announced a 10-year partnership with the Rainiers, Defiance, and Reign FC. It will build a 60,000 square-foot primary care and specialty medical facility adjacent to the new stadium. MultiCare will also sponsor the Defiance’s kits.