The Seattle Reign FC, the professional women’s soccer club that has played for five seasons at Memorial Stadium, is dropping Seattle from its name and heading south to Tacoma, the team announced Wednesday. The move is turning one Seattle venture capitalist into a minority owner.
An open letter to fans and supporters, signed by team owners Bill and Teresa Predmore, said that it is with “great sadness” that the team’s time at the facility at Seattle Center has come to an end and that home matches for the 2019 NWSL season will be played about 35 miles away at Cheney Stadium.
Team President Bill Predmore, the founder and longtime chairman of the Seattle-based digital marketing agency POP, laid out reasons why the team needs to vacate its current home, including the lack of a playing surface that meets U.S. Soccer Pro League Standards. The stadium also does not meet standards for national television broadcasts. Furthermore, Seattle Public Schools informed the team that its lease was unlikely to be extended beyond the 2018 season, as there were plans tear down and rebuild the stadium, beginning as early as this year.
The letter ticked off a number of facilities in the Seattle area which were looked at as alternatives, but all had shortcomings, including CenturyLink Field, home to the Seattle Sounders FC.
But the Predmores expressed optimism about a new regional emphasis for the team in the South Sound, and revealed that Mikal Thomsen, current chairman and CEO of the Tacoma Rainiers baseball team, would be taking a minority ownership stake in Reign FC.
Thomsen is a partner at the venture capital firm Trilogy and is a veteran of the wireless industry, having worked at McCaw Communications and VoiceStream.
The letter to fans said that Thomsen is already leading efforts to build a soccer-specific stadium in Tacoma, which could be ready for the 2021 season.
Adrian Hanauer, majority owner of the Sounders, and his mother, Lenore Hanauer, will also make a separate minority investment in the club, the Predmores said, adding, “Adrian and Lenore have both been supportive of our club since its inception, so we are excited to welcome them to the Reign FC ownership group.”
The news of a move comes just two weeks after another big change for Seattle and its soccer franchises. Seattle-based online retailer Zulily replaced Microsoft X-box as the jersey sponsor for the Sounders and will represent both the men’s and women’s teams this season.
The Predmores also said Microsoft will return as a technology partner for 2019, and both Avanade and BECU will return as key partners for the organization.
“We truly believe the best is yet to come, and we are hopeful that you will continue to support Reign FC as we make this incredible journey forward,” the letter concluded.