A lot of words could be used to describe the Seattle Sounders’ new home at Longacres in Renton, but General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey summed it up succinctly: “It’s a game-changer.”
The Sounders’ new venue launching in 2024 is going to be one of the most exceptional soccer facilities in the United States. With four full-size training pitches and 50,000 square feet of space for both the club’s soccer operations and front office personnel, it’s a campus fit for one of the most ambitious clubs in North American soccer.
Seattle set the standard within Major League Soccer 15 years ago when it began training at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, but as the league has evolved, so too have the expectations and standards. As the Sounders continue their push to be one of the best clubs in North America, this new facility will be the literal groundwork upon which to keep building.
“It’s going to take an already good program and light some rocket fuel underneath it,” said Lagerwey. “It’s the cherry on top…This new facility is going to have all the bells and whistles and really be a first-rate, top-class facility to match not just the ambition of the Sounders, but the ambition of MLS to become one of the best soccer leagues in the world.”
The amenities arms race is nothing new to soccer. Some of the biggest clubs globally are continuing to evolve as well. English giants Liverpool moved to a new site in 2020 after 60 years at the famed Melwood. FC Barcelona’s La Masia, the most prestigious academy in the world, closed its doors in 2006 after 30 years as the club moved to a brand new training ground at Ciutat Esportiva.
In order to sign better players, they demand the very best on a daily basis. At Longacres, the Sounders are making a statement of intent.
“In terms of player development, it starts with recruitment,” said Lagerwey. “It’s going to help us there. It’s going to help us in terms of helping all of these young people in and around Seattle, but also from all over the country, to come here and see how we stack up against every other facility not just in the country but in the world.”
Beyond what the facility will mean from an on-field perspective, it helps strengthen the Sounders’ bond within the western Washington community. The club has deep local roots, and the land it is moving to does as well. The area was first inhabited by the indigenous Duwamish people and has since become a host for a racetrack and commercial use by Boeing.
“Acknowledging and celebrating those respective histories is what makes Seattle great,” said Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer and former Sounders player Taylor Graham. “Seattle is at the intersection of history, technology, innovation, sport and life. All of those things combined are why many choose to live here. That is all exemplified in the Sounders FC Center at Longacres.”
The launching of the venue is especially significant because it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the club’s founding in 1974. The Sounders have gone through plenty of iterations and locations and leagues over the past half-century, and by breaking ground at Longacres, they are putting a stake in the ground for the next 50 years as well. Soccer, and largely sport in general, is hyper local. It’s what connects people and builds bridges in ways many things cannot. For the Sounders, the equity they’ve cultivated in the community is palpable and this new facility will continue to drive that forward.
“The manifestation of a soccer team is nothing without expressing the values of a place,” said Chief Operating Officer Maya Mendoza-Exstrom. “Roots are essential to that. That we have 50 years of roots doesn’t mean those roots are strong enough to withstand the next 50 years. To grow bigger as a tree, to be a 100-year-old Evergreen in the Pacific Northwest, your roots have to grow stronger and grow deeper so that you can grow taller.
“I think that’s the moment we have here – this opportunity to deepen our roots, to strengthen our roots because without that we can’t grow. With that firm rooting in place, we will always we be growing representative of our environment, of our fanbase and our community.”
You can explore all of the details about the Sounders FC Center at Longacres HERE.
To learn more about the March to the 50th and take the survey, click HERE.