TACOMA, Wash. — The future is officially now when it comes to the long-term home of Sounders FC 2. The USL club announced on Wednesday that it will begin playing at Cheney Stadium for the 2018 season before moving into a soccer-specific stadium, which is targeted for 2020. Sounder at Heart first reported the move almost exactly two weeks ago.
As part of the move, the Tacoma Rainiers will assume responsibilities for running the business operations of the team. The Sounders will continue to employ the technical staff and players, and they will still train at Starfire Sports Complex along with the First Team and Academy. The Sounders Community Trust retains its 20 percent ownership stake in the team.
Although Tacoma has a rich history of soccer, this will be the first time since 1976 that the city has been the permanent home of a professional outdoor team. The Tacoma Tides played one season in the American Soccer League. Among their players was Bruce Arena, who would go on to become head coach of the United States men’s national team.
As recently as several months ago, indications had been S2 would continue playing at Starfire until plans were at least finalized for a soccer-specific stadium in Tacoma. But with USL now requiring all teams to meet 5,000-seat requirements, moving now became more of an imperative.
S2 confirmed there will be no infield dirt patches or pitcher’s mounds to contend with when Cheney Stadium hosts S2 matches. At an event announcing the move, Aaron Artman, Tacoma Rainiers president, said that Cheney will be “the best soccer pitch” at a baseball stadium in the country.
For 2018, the team will continue to be branded as S2, an unavoidable reality given the proximity to next season. In relatively short order, though, the team is expected to be fully rebranded with something specific to Tacoma or the South Sound.
This story will likely be updated as more information from the press conference is made available.