The wait is over. OL Reign have finally found their long-term training facility.
The club announced on Thursday a multi-year partnership with Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, which begins with the start of the 2023 preseason in February. OL Reign will have access to the many grass and turf fields, support facilities, and space for business operations that Seattle Sounders FC have long used. The move and upgrade in training fields and facilities for players, coaches, and staff gives the club the true headquarters that they’ve been looking for.
When the Sounders announced plans to build their headquarters at Longacres at the start of this year, it seemed logical that OL Reign could and should move to Starfire to be that facility’s new flagship tenant. This announcement also addresses a long-overdue need for the NWSL club, which was mentioned in the recently released Yates Report. It continues a series of improvements and investments the club has made since OL Groupe’s purchase, including doubling their front-office staff and moving the club’s matches to Lumen Field.
“This move is a monumental step for us,” said OL Reign CEO Vincent Berthillot in the club’s press release. “We are excited to call Starfire home and to create a partnership with them to support the community. Along with our move this season to Lumen Field, a priority for us has been to secure a top-level training facility near our new home venue that would support our club, its world-class players, and overall operations as we continue to grow.”
OL Reign trained and played at Starfire in their inaugural season before moving to Memorial Stadium in 2014. The Reign’s time at Starfire also came before the Sounders welcomed Sounders FC 2 — now Tacoma Defiance — to their soccer family in 2014. The Reign remained at Memorial Stadium for the next four years.
As the NWSL has grown, so too have the standards which stadiums must meet in order to host a competitive match. It is unlikely that competitions like the NWSL Challenge Cup will be played at Starfire Stadium even with OL Reign’s return to the Tukwila facility. Current NWSL rules dictate that a stadium must have a minimum capacity of 10,000 and meet certain standards for broadcasts and locker rooms, while Starfire Stadium can only hold 4,500 fans. Thus Lumen Field will remain the site for all of OL Reign’s home matches.
OL Reign also confirmed to Ride of the Valkyries that the club will use different spaces than the Sounders currently do at Starfire until the MLS club moves to their Longacres facility in 2024. The club also confirmed that OL Reign will primarily train on a separate professional-quality grass field from the Sounders.
Since the Reign’s relocation to Tacoma in 2019, training sessions were split between minor-league baseball stadium Cheney Stadium and various high school facilities, including at Foss High School and a field the club renovated at Bellarmine Preparatory School. With the club’s move, OL Reign confirmed to Jayda Evans with The Seattle Times that they’re exploring housing options for the players that are closer to Tukwila.
“I’d like to thank the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma Rainiers for their partnership over the last three years, providing our club a home base for our training and operations,” said Berthillot. “We are forever grateful for the immense support received from the local community. The relationships we built there will always have a special place in the club’s history and will remain an important part of the OL Reign family as a part of our commitment to the region.”
OL Reign Academy also benefits from the club’s move to Starfire, as a playing field will be made available to the next generation of soccer players. The club confirmed to Ride of the Valkyries that it is likely that the Academy teams will have to train in at least one other location beyond Starfire, but this move greatly consolidates their training locations, which were previously more spread out. For the first time in club history, OL Reign’s first team and Academy will share the same facility, allowing increased opportunities for interaction between the Academy and NWSL staff and players.
“We are very excited to partner with OL Reign and have the team call Starfire home! Partnering with OL Reign is an amazing opportunity for our community, and especially our kids, to witness these world-class athletes and further the soccer experience here and in the greater Seattle area we serve,” said Starfire Sports President and CEO Ben Oliver in the club’s press release.
Additional details regarding when/if fans can attend OL Reign training sessions to see and connect with the players will surely come when the calendar turns over to the new year. Today’s announcement is undoubtedly an exciting development in the club’s reinforcement that they are one of the premier clubs in the NWSL.