USL-DSP ingenious venue plans for Spokane



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Spokane USL stadium renovation Image: USL

Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) and the United Soccer League (USL) have come up with a brilliant idea to construct a brand new 5,000-seat stadium that, it is hoped, will kill two birds with one stone – bring a USL League One Club to Spokane in the State of Washington (US) and also generate $11.4 million annually.

Affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and the United States Adult Soccer Association, 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. Leagues currently organized are the USL Championship, USL League One, USL League Two and the youth Super Y League.

USL League One (USL1) is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States and Canada that began its inaugural season in 2019. USL announced the formation of the league on April 2nd, 2017 and the league is targeting cities with a population of 150,000 to one million, mostly in cities without a professional team.

Downtown Spokane Partnership is a nonprofit organization in Spokane committed to the creation of dynamic, safe, vital, livable and sustainable downtown which would be the basis of an economically healthy region.

‘USL’ sources stated that leaders in Spokane are doing a take two on the new proposal which envisages a far greater annual economic impact as compared to the earlier proposal which had called for extensive refurbishment of Spokane’s existing Joe Albi Stadium and only an estimated $1.3 million annual revenue increase.

The 28,646-capacity Joe Albi Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium located in Spokane, Washington, East of the Spokane River. Home of second tier American professional women’s soccer team Spokane Shine, which competes in Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), it opened in 1950 and is primarily used for high school football.

“Spokane has a rich tradition of sports, great fans and athletic talent,” said USL Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Real Estate Officer Justin Papadakis.

“We have been working to make the dream of having a professional soccer team a reality for the past few years and this partnership proposal is one we think the community will strongly support,” Papadakis elaborated.

Under this new proposal, the City would save $17.5 million in operations and maintenance (O&M) expenses by entering into a formal partnership agreement for a newly built downtown stadium.

Mark Richard, President, Downtown Spokane Partnership, said, “This is a smart investment. It not only provides the district with cost savings, it makes a greater economic impact, leverages taxpayers’ dollars, supports local business and creates jobs.”

‘USL’ sources added that a downtown stadium would generate significant economic impact for businesses in the region.

A recent economic impact study found that a downtown stadium would generate $11.4 million in annual economic impact for Spokane, versus an estimated $1.3 million economic impact by renovating Joe Albi.

“This kind of economic opportunity means even more now than it did a few years ago as Spokane works to recover from the economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Richard.

“Our community and our local businesses would benefit greatly from this opportunity,” he elucidated.

The home stadium would not only serve as the host for professional soccer but would also be available to host concerts, large-scale special events and other sporting events, creating significant economic impact by drawing tourism, supporting local businesses and creating jobs.

Spokane Public Schools Board is composed of five citizens publicly represented to represent the community in setting policies and directing school programs.

This partnership proposal guarantees Spokane Public Schools Board could use the stadium for all high school football and soccer games as well as any other school district events at no cost – with free parking for all school events. Additionally, the central location will be a more equitable solution for students and families by creating greater access for all five high schools, with many public transportation options and even being within walking distance for some.

“We’re excited for what this new proposal would mean for our community – it’s a win-win-win for students and families, residents, local business, the PFD and sports fans,” said Richard.

USL Soccer added that if the proposal was accepted, it would continue the current trend that had seen new soccer-specific stadiums provide top-class matchday environments for fans across USL League One and the USL Championship.

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