Oakland Roots-Soul go-to-‘town’ venue plans



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USL Oakland teams planning to develop a new stadium Image: Oakland Roots SC & USL

The United Soccer League (USL) team Oakland Roots SC and Oakland Soul SC (women’s soccer team) (US) announced on August 30th plans to explore developing a stadium for their men’s professional soccer team and their women’s team, who will begin play in 2023.

‘Oakland Roots SC and USL’ stated that the promotion of the men’s team to a higher division league, USL Championship, and the addition of a women’s team, as well as the growth of the club’s community and fans, means the club is outgrowing the Laney College Football Stadium in Oakland, California (US).

The Oakland Roots Sports Club is an American professional soccer team based in Oakland, California, US. The club was formed in 2018 by a group of Oakland natives, and began play in the National Independent Soccer Association in the Fall of 2019. In 2021, the club joined the second division USL Championship.

Coming to USL W League in the Spring of 2023 – the Oakland Soul is a purpose-driven women’s soccer team that will be an elite pathway to pro soccer, providing not only a high-quality training environment but also protecting and empowering players so they are nourished both physically and mentally.

The United Soccer League (USL) is the organizer of several soccer leagues with teams in the United States and Canada. It includes men’s and women’s leagues, both professional and amateur.

The USL Championship is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States that began its inaugural season in 2011. The USL is sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation as a Division II league since 2017, placing it under Major League Soccer (MLS) in the hierarchy. The USL is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.

The USL W League is a pre-professional women’s soccer league in the United States which began play in May 2022. It was announced on June 8th, 2021 by the United Soccer League with eight founding clubs. It follows the USL W-League, a similar league that existed from 1995 to 2015.

The 5,500-capacity Laney College Football Stadium is a multipurpose stadium located on the Laney College campus in Oakland, California (US), on the former site of the Frank Youell Athletic Field which has since closed down.

The National Independent Soccer Association is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States. The league is in the third tier of American soccer and began play in 2019.

Noted Lindsay Barenz, Roots and Soul President, “The challenges of finding facilities that meet the standards for top-level pro sports in Oakland are well-known, but it’s a challenge we’re happy to embrace. We’ve been working hard to explore all options, both short- and long-term, to create a permanent home for pro soccer in The Town that reflects our commitment to the community.”

‘Oakland Roots SC and USL’ further stated that the club is seeking to find a site for an ‘interim stadium’ where Oakland Roots, Oakland Soul and Project 51O – the club’s development program for local talent – can play for the next several years until a permanent home can be constructed. The club is exploring multiple sites that could accommodate a privately-financed, modular stadium capable of holding up to 10,000 fans.

The Laney College has been the home of Oakland Roots since the club’s debut in 2019 and has been central to its growth into one of the fastest-growing brands in American sports. The support of the faculty, staff, Athletics Department at the Laney College, and the entire Peralta Community College District has helped Roots develop a passionate supporter culture and unique gameday experience that is truly representative of Oakland. While the club explores possibilities for an interim and permanent home, Oakland Roots will continue to play at Laney College.

Added John Beam, Laney Athletic Director and Head Football Coach, “Oakland Roots have been great for all sports in The Town (Oakland), showing what this City is all about. It has been a pleasure helping the team reach the levels they have on the field and in the community. We look forward to our continued work together. 2 Claps, Ready Ready!”

Oakland Roots is the first, purpose-driven sports team in the United States. The club’s purpose is to harness the magic of Oakland and the power of sports as a force for social good, and this commitment has been at the heart of the organization’s rise from the third division National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) to the USL Championship (USL-C), the largest pro soccer league in the United States, in just a few short years.

The Roots have generated international acclaim for their commitment to racial and gender justice which has attracted support from proud representatives of Oakland like the National Football League (NFL) legend Marshawn Lynch and many others.

Stated Steve Sparkes, My Yute Soccer Cofounder, “This is great news, I’ve been waiting 30+ years for a soccer stadium in Oakland. It’s been way too long and Roots are getting it done. Its great not only for all of us in the soccer community who support youth to play the sport, but it’s also great for the wider Oakland community. Families, fans and our soon to be Oakland Soul team members will enjoy an authentic soccer facility. We’re very excited here at My Yute Soccer. Roots putting down roots!”

Oakland Roots are the first and only club in the United States to join the global Common Goal movement, pledging one percent of player and staff salaries to social impact projects like the groundbreaking ‘Switch the Pitch’ anti-racism project launched this year and ‘Play Proud’, a collaboration with teams across the USA, Canada and Mexico to build safe soccer spaces for the LGBTQ community.

The club has invested in supporting free-to-play soccer programs within Oakland through its support of ‘Purpose Partners’ like Soccer Without Borders, America SCORES, My Yute Soccer, Street Soccer USA, and Oakland Genesis. Oakland Roots places a strong focus on the use of sport in promoting mental health for youth, by training local soccer coaches and being one of very few teams to employ a Mental Health Performance Coach to support the team’s players on and off the field.

The team also created the Oakland Roots Justice Fund to support causes at the intersection of race and gender justice, supporting local Oakland non-profits like the Black Liberation Walking Tour, Young Women Freedom Center, Radical Monarchs, Chapter 510, Huey P. Newton Foundation, Ella Baker Center, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, and many more.

Maintained Marshawn Lynch, Roots Co-Owner, “The opportunities for Oakland Roots and sports in Da’ Town are solid. People wanna focus on who left or who might leave but there’s still a lot to build on. Whenever you sincerely and wholeheartedly tap in with the community, good things are gonna happen. At the end of the day, that’s what makes our Roots team and organization hella different. We are always doing our best to put Oakland first, the families, businesses, the OG’s and the youngin’s and that alone will continue to set us apart.”

The club intends to approach the development of both interim and permanent stadiums with the same commitment to the community which has characterized its growth to date. A new, professional-standard sports facility will be an important asset to the City of Oakland at a time when it is most needed.

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