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Reimagined Memorial Stadium is beautiful, but probably too small for OL Reign

It could potentially be a wonderful place for the Sounders to play early-round U.S. Open Cup games.

A reimagined Memorial Stadium would feature covered stands, a concourse that opens into Seattle Center, modern amenities, and is envisioned to accommodate soccer, but would likely be too small to be a viable long-term home for OL Reign based on renderings created by design firm Populous last year at the behest of Seattle Public Schools.

The feasibility study, which the Seattle Times brought to light on Wednesday, essentially provides the framework for what SPS and the City of Seattle hope to get after they demolish the existing Memorial Stadium and build a new facility that could cost as much as $250 million. They are also hoping to find a private partner to bridge the gap between the $110 million they’ve committed for the project and what they’d need to actually fulfill their vision.

The project would primarily cater to SPS activities like high school football games and graduations, but the study also imagines the facility as a community asset, and officials specifically identified professional soccer and rugby teams as potential tenants. The project could theoretically be built without outside funding and feature a stadium with about 4,500 seats. With outside funding, the high-end capacity is about 10,400. While it’s not hard to imagine that being stretched closer to 12,000, that would still be one of the smallest stadiums in the NWSL and only slightly above the current minimum league standard of 10,000. Of the 12 current NWSL stadiums, only the North Carolina Courage play in a smaller venue and they have explored moving from WakeMed Park into a new, significantly larger facility.

Although OL Reign have only drawn more than 10,000 fans to three games in their entire history, two of those were their most recent home games at Lumen Field. They drew 10,746 to their regular-season finale and then 21,491 to their semifinal playoff game. In their first full season at Lumen Field, the Reign finished with an attendance average of 8,065 during the regular season and playoffs. That’s about 50% better than any previous season. More broadly, the NWSL just recently had their best-ever opening weekend with more than 90,000 fans attending the six games, an average of more than 15,000 per match, and the league is coming into a World Cup year where teams typically see significant, sustained attendance boosts.

While likely too small for the Reign’s ambitions, a rebuilt Memorial Stadium could be an ideal location for the Sounders to play early-round U.S. Open Cup matches, or for FC Ballard to move if they outgrow Interbay Stadium. Completed in time, it might also be a good place for the Reign and/or Sounders to play games in 2026 ahead of the Men’s World Cup, which will likely make Lumen Field off-limits for the first few months of the season as the grass settles in.

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