Update, Dec 18, 12:00 PM PT:
The club has released an official statement categorically denying that there is any intention to relocate OL Reign from Tacoma, but emphasizing the importance of building a soccer-specific venue in the city as part of OL Groupe’s vision for the team.
The choice of the Seattle-Tacoma market was heavily influenced by the opportunity to play in a new soccer-specific stadium in Tacoma, which is a necessary component for OL’s plans to grow the club. The goal is to provide OL Reign with a modern venue in which to play its matches, and to deliver a superior experience to OL Reign’s supporters, who have been steadfast in their support for their club over the last eight years.
Furthermore, they emphasize OL Groupe’s investment in the region through their commitment to develop of a new training center for the team in Tacoma, and the team’s intent to have two international players from OL join OL Reign for the 2021 NWSL season.
Original story, Dec 18, 8:45 AM PT:
An interview with Tony Parker in today’s edition of Le Monde ($) included a surprising and unexpected bit of news for OL Reign fans – Parker expressed interest in relocating the team to Miami in the future. No timeline or reasons were given, but within the larger interview Parker mentioned that he is currently involved in the development of a private air terminal in Florida. Equalizer Soccer’s Jeff Kassouf reports that OL Groupe had initially looked into Miami for an expansion team before eventually acquiring the Reign.
“The media will be even more interested when the pair’s current project materializes: the construction of a private terminal in Florida and a move. I would like to move… OL Reign of Seattle to Miami,” reads Parker’s translated quote in the story.
Parker became a minority owner when OL Groupe acquired the Reign in late 2019. Parker owns 3% of the team, the Predmore family retained a 7.5% share, and OL Groupe controls the rest. Past reports have indicated that OL Groupe president Jean-Michel Aulas sees Parker as his potential successor when he eventually steps down from leadership of the organization.
An interesting wrinkle to this rumor is that, as part of the Tacoma stadium letter of intent between the city of Tacoma, Metro Parks Tacoma, and The Soccer Club of Tacoma (TSCOT, the Seattle Sounders/Tacoma Rainiers partnership which operates the Tacoma Defiance), any stadium lease agreement would require TSCOT to operate an NWSL team in the stadium. In short, for the Tacoma stadium project to continue, Adrian Hanauer and TSCOT would need to acquire an NWSL expansion franchise to play in Tacoma should the Reign depart.
An OL Reign source has informed Ride of the Valkyries that there is no truth to the report and the team remains in the process of developing a training facility in Tacoma and extending their lease at Cheney Stadium.