SPOKANE, Wash — The United Soccer League (USL) announced on Wednesday that a women's soccer league will come to Spokane in 2022.
The women's team will be added to Spokane along with the men’s team that was already slated to come to the city. The USL W League will begin in 2022. Spokane will look to be apart of that new league when it kicks off in 2022
The COO of USL Justin Papadakis, President of USL to Spokane Cindy Wendle, Mayor of Spokane Nadine Woodward and CEO of Downtown Spokane Partnership Mark Richard attended the announcement on Wednesday.
"This club will be centered on diversity inclusion and gender equity and so the first announcement we wanted to make as a club was bringing the W league team here," said Papadakis.
When the USL W League debuts in 2022, a Spokane team will be one of the 30 inaugural teams. When the league was announced two weeks ago, eight teams were a part of the original announcement. Spokane becomes the first team outside of those original eight to join the league.
"Oh, I think it’s fantastic," said Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward about the women's soccer team coming to Spokane. "My daughter played club youth sports and my husband coach her team. We’re a soccer family and to see opportunities for women beyond high school and on to college, I think is a great thing for our city and we’re going to support that with everything we have."
"There’s really been a gap, especially in this community, for opportunity for high level playing for females in soccer. Also there’s an opportunity to develop them in careers outside of playing the sport. For them to engage on another level in administration, coaching, front office staff, executive level with teams. Having that presence here with a W league team is important for all of those aspects as they move forward in their careers," said Wendle.
What’s unique about Spokane’s USL club is that their women’s team will actually debut before the men’s squad. The men’s team won’t play their first game until 2023, when the downtown stadium opens. The women’s team will start when the USL W League starts the year before.
"This is going to be a club, it’s not a team. The women’s side will be playing first but we know that the fans will be fans of the club. Whether you’re supporting the women’s side or the men’s side, it doesn’t matter because you’re supporting the club," said Papadakis.
On Monday, June 21 Cindy Wendle was named the president of the USL to Spokane. She will lead all facets of the day-to-day operations, laying the necessary foundation to prepare for the 2023 inaugural season. She has been an active participant in the community effort to bring professional soccer to Spokane, unifying multiple stakeholders in the project.
Wendle talked about the new role in a press release from the USL.
“Soccer is an international passion - it bridges cultural, economic and regional boundaries, to enjoy a match day experience like no other sport can offer,” Wendle said.
Earlier this year, Spokane Public Schools Board voted to approve the construction of a $31 million, 5,000-seat stadium downtown that will serve as the home of a League One expansion club.
The stadium, which will be developed and constructed by Spokane Public Schools and operated by the Spokane Public Facilities District, is set to be an economic catalyst for Spokane, generating a projected $11.4 million in economic impact, while also saving the school department $22.5 million over the lifespan of the venue.
Wendle will represent the USL during the development and construction of the new stadium.