SPOKANE, Wash.- Following the announcement of a new 5,000-seat stadium in downtown Spokane that would become the home of a USL League One club, the United Soccer League announced on Wednesday its intention to bring a W League team to Spokane that could kick off as early as 2022.
“Spokane has all the ingredients to be one of the best soccer cities in America,” said Betsy Haugh, Director of Operations for the W League. “With the addition of a W League team, Spokane will be able to provide more opportunities for women in the region to play, coach, and work in soccer. We can't wait to work together with the community to build a club that is an authentic representation of Spokane, as well as continuing to grow the W League's presence in the Pacific Northwest.”
Leading the charge will be Cindy Wendle, President of USL to Spokane as announced on Monday. In her role as President of USL to Spokane, Wendle becomes the second acting woman president in the USL ecosystem, and will lead all facets of the day-to-day operations.
“We’re incredibly excited to be able to create new opportunities for our community to be involved in women’s sports,” said Cindy Wendle, President of USL to Spokane. “Enhancing gender equity and opportunity for women not only in competition but in all areas of sports management is paramount, and I am honored to be a part of the team bringing this amazing project to life.”
In addition, Spokane leadership is set to complete its new downtown stadium ahead of the 2023 season, which will serve as the home field for the five Spokane public high schools in the region allowing youth players to compete in a first-class venue. The downtown stadium will act as the home to both the future USL League One team and the new W League team upon its completion in 2023.
“Today’s announcement is another big step forward for the future of soccer in Spokane,” said United Soccer League COO and Chief Real Estate Officer, Justin Papadakis. “In addition to the great work being done to bring both the men's and women's teams, we also could not be more excited with the progress being made on the downtown stadium project. Soccer is, at its core, about community and we have no doubt that this project will serve as a community gathering place, and great source of pride for all Spokane.”
The new downtown venue, which will be located on the banks of the Spokane River, and across the street from the Spokane Arena, will be managed and operated by the Spokane Public Facilities District, and developed in conjunction with the Spokane Public Schools. An economic impact study, provided by the Downtown Spokane Partnership in February, projected that the downtown stadium would provide an annual economic impact to the community of $11.4 million. Additionally, a survey that was released by the Spokane Public School Board in April showed that the resounding majority of residents supported the downtown stadium development.
Additionally, with the Spokane Public Facilities District set to take over the management of the new downtown venue, the Spokane Public School District is set to save $22.5 million over the life of the stadium, as well as receive a share of revenue from non-district events. These cost savings and revenues will be reinvested by the Spokane Public Schools to support equity related initiatives and bolster their arts programs.