SPOKANE, Wash. — A committee with the Spokane Public Facilities District decided the fate of professional soccer in the city during a meeting on Tuesday.
The committee chose the United Soccer League (USL), led by former Spokane City Council candidate Cindy Wendle, to bring professional soccer to the new downtown stadium.
Brett Sports was competing against the USL for the opportunity to bring major league soccer to Spokane. Both submitted proposals to the Public Facilities District committee on Monday. Brett Sports owns the Spokane Chiefs hockey and Spokane Indians Minor League Baseball teams.
When the USL Women's League debuts in 2022, a Spokane team will be one of the 30 inaugural teams. Eight teams were a part of the original announcement in June. Spokane becomes the first team outside of those original eight to join the league.
Wendle said there are more men's professional soccer teams and that's why it was important to create this pathway for women to be able to play professional soccer.
"That's the commitment we're making to Spokane, and it's also important to make sure that women get opportunities to coach and to manage and be an executive in soccer leagues and soccer clubs," Wendle said.
Wendle played a big part in the initiative to build the new downtown stadium,
"I knew that that was going to be an important part of our future for Spokane [a stadium], and I'm a soccer mom, so I call myself a soccer mom turned soccer executive," Wendle said.
The Spokane women's USL club will 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 launches the year before.
But the team represents more than entertainment for Spokane sports fans. Wendle said it's an equity commitment.
"We're really excited about our focus on gender equity, about creating an inclusive space for all and working with our underrepresented communities," Wendle said.
Wendle will lead all facets of the team's 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.
The USL W League will kick off in May 2023. The team will be playing on the new $31 million, 5,000-seat stadium downtown that will serve as the home of a League One expansion club.
Season tickets for the USL W League will be on sale soon, Wendle said.