Grand Rapids soccer upgrade looks promising

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Soccer is not new to Grand Rapids. If you’ve ever been in or around Houseman Field on a game day for the Grand Rapids Football Club, you’ve seen it firsthand.

The proposal announced Monday by Grand Action for a soccer stadium could kick Grand Rapids’ game up a notch.

“There’s a lot of reason to be bullish on the future of the USL in Grand Rapids,” Ryan Madden, spokesperson for the United Soccer League, said.

From Houseman Field to neighborhood school yards, soccer has grown into a popular pastime in West Michigan. United Soccer League officials have taken note.

GRFC will move into USL League Two next season, and the city is on USL’s radar for a Championship League team, two steps up from League Two. Think of it as the equivalent to Major League Baseball’s AAA teams.

“We, for many years as an organization, have viewed Grand Rapids as a community that would make for a very special fit for a USL Championship club,” Madden said.

“Throughout USL Championship, our players are then going off to play for their national teams across the world,” he continued. “When the 2026 World Cup comes to the United States, a lot of USL Championships will be playing in that tournament.”

So what has to happen to get the team to Grand Rapids?

First off, a fan base. USL looks for a metropolitan area with a population of 750,000 or more. They’ll need an ownership group to put up the money behind a team. Then they’ll need a place to play. The league requires a stadium that seats more than 5,000. Grand Action is talking a 7,000-seat stadium in or around the downtown area.

Madden won’t put a timeline on how long it usually takes for all of that to come together, but he’s definitely optimistic.

“The future is really bright,” he said, “and I think it could come sooner than later.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links