The Sounders FC Center at Longacres is all about one thing: opportunity.
It’s an opportunity for the club to launch a world-class training facility that showcases the ambition of a club that always strives to raise the bar.
It’s an opportunity to celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary when it opens in 2024, laying the foundation for the next 50 years.
Just as important, though, the Sounders FC Center at Longacres is an opportunity for the club to build a home that simultaneously reflects the club’s values and invests in the community it serves.
“We’re looking at this as a blank canvas,” said Sounders FC Chief Operating Officer Maya Mendoza-Exstrom. “It’s to express our intent. This is a platform and a new opportunity to take our Social Justice Framework writ large and fuse it into the decisions that guide design, use and behaviors on this new site.”
The Seattle Sounders’ Social Justice Framework is fortified by four key pillars: protect our planet, fight racism, defend the right to play and stand for LGBTQ+ equality. Those core principles influence every decision the club makes, and they are interwoven into the DNA of the Seattle Sounders.
Working in partnership with Unico Properties, Generator Studios and the City of Renton, the Sounders will ensure that the Sounders FC Center at Longacres serves as physical embodiment of the club’s Social Justice Framework.
“We’re committed to ensure that the opportunities to come to this place, which should be super special, are accessible and equitable to all,” said Mendoza-Exstrom. “I think what gets us really excited is that the possibilities here are so endless to some degree, and we have the ability to have intent in everything we do… The facility itself should further be an expression of our values, and where we have the capacity to make choices, we should make choices that do those things. We can, and we will.”
As the first carbon neutral professional soccer team in North America, the Sounders’ commitment to environmental sustainability will be a driver of the Sounders FC Center at Longeacre’s design process.
Additionally, several possibilities include holding RAVE Foundation programming for free at the fields, hosting field trips at the facility for local school districts and partnering with Intentionalist to bring food trucks from locally owned small businesses to the campus.
“This is a blank canvas, and the Sounders aren’t building it ourselves,” added Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer Taylor Graham. “We’re building it in partnership with many groups, and that is the Sounders Way.”
The Sounders’ approach to designing, building and unveiling the Sounders FC Center at Longacres is an exercise in active placemaking.
With so much freedom to make deliberate choices that can sustainably and equitably serve the community, the club is eager to seize on the limitless possibilities of their new home.
“In order to be active in placemaking, you have to be intentional about how you design things to be inclusive, [and] how you design things to have legacy implications.” noted Mendoza-Exstrom. “Being conscious of the place you occupy, and how you want it to engage with the wider environment, is very anti professional sports.
“It’s not insular. This is not our fiefdom, our kingdom. This is our asset, for sure. But how do we create an asset that serves our core needs and adds sincere value to the wider community… We’re actively engaged in placemaking. That’s what the facility gives us the chance to do.”
Ultimately, the Sounders FC Center at Longacres is just the latest example of the organization being inextricably linked to the region it calls home. The roots run deep, dating back to the birth of the Sounders almost 50 years ago. While there has been change over time – new players, new stadiums, new leagues and new logos – some things will always remain the same.
“The individuals are different,” said Graham. “The stakes are different. The fanbase has grown and is different, but the soul of this club is the feeling that you get when you’re with likeminded people, and that feeling is the same in 2022 as it was [when Graham signed as a player] in 2005. I think it’s driven by a sense of pride for this club, for what it is and always has been, and a sense of pride in the community that it serves.”
As part of the training facility announcement on Thursday, Sounders leadership also revealed the March to the 50th, a two-year process of reconnecting with club history and engaging all fans on the future of the brand in the buildup to the 50th anniversary. These two club initiatives, both set for completion in 2024, are woven together by the club’s ties to the community.
The club is growing its roots deeper in the region and actively seeking input from all fans. And these two projects serve as a promise to honor the foundation that has been laid over the last 50 years while ensuring that the organization continues to make a positive impact in the community.
“That’s a truth of Sounders FC,” said Mendoza-Exstrom. “We will always be reflective of this place, reflecting back the best of ourselves. I hope that our brand has contributed in meaningful ways in the more equitable future that we all want to see here. I hope our brand is a beacon of that aspiration.”
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.