Tumwater Stadium will host Tacoma Tide FC on Saturday at 7:00 PM. (Advanced Construction photo)
PDL League Match: Saturday July 10, 7 PM Tumwater Stadium, Tacoma Tide FC v. Abbotsford Mariners (Tickets $10 / $5, available at the gate)
The greater Olympia area would be a great place for a United Soccer Leagues club. What better way to start one than at the PDL level where costs are lower and local rivals abound? An Olympia-based PDL side could join the Northwest Division where there are clubs as close as Portland, Tacoma, Kitsap and Seattle.
Talk of a club for south, south Sound is premature, but fun to speculate on. A bit of a step is being taken this weekend, though, when Tacoma Tide FC of the PDL will host a league match against Abbotsford at Tumwater Stadium on Saturday at 7:00 PM. We learned in this earlier report on the possible fate of Tacoma Tide FC that they will be looking closely at how the moved match is greeted and supported.
It would be great to have clubs at this level in both Tacoma and Olympia, but it might eventually end up being an either / or proposition for the time being. Mike Jennings, owner of the Tacoma Tide, owns the rights for USL franchising in both Pierce and Thurston counties.
If meeting the needs and goals of two entities equals a good partnership, then perhaps the Tide and Blackhills FC will form a relationship of some kind that changes the NW PDL landscape. The Tide need a soccer community that cares and will send them players, and Blackhills FC needs to explore how to keep players interested in soccer and their club after they turn 18.
It’s all in the exploratory stage, but you can’t find out more without getting together for an actual league match, and that is what the two are doing.
I spoke with Blackhills FC President Tim Sekerak about hosting Tacoma and the youth club’s possible interest in adding a PDL club in the future. The Q & A appears below.
SSE: How did Blackhills FC connect with Tacoma Tide FC about hosting this match?
Tim Sekerak: They approached us about hosting a game and working together to raise awareness. The gap in public awareness about what’s going on in that space between youth club soccer and the MLS Sounders is an issue we have wanted to address. The stepping stones in between U18 and pro ball are out there, but the drop off in participation is huge. We want to address that so that soccer players can figure out what the sport offers them after high school.
How are ticket sales going? What size of crowd are you anticipating?
We are hoping to build awareness and interest in this level of soccer. We don’t think it’s all that high right now, and we don’t expect to pack the stadium full. We have 27 teams in our club, but this weekend we also have most of them participating in soccer tournaments. I have no real solid idea what to expect on one of the first sunny summer nights of the year. They could go to the game, or to some lake to cool off. I just don’t know.
Does Blackhills FC also use Tumwater stadium? How does the pitch play?
We use the facility for games, training and community camps. It’s pretty good material and well taken care of, and we have never had any problems with it. It is a mixed-used high school facility and the turf technology has evolved since it was installed 5 years ago. We have played on much worse surfaces in other communities. The pitch is very fast, particularly in the winter when everything is cold and tight and the wind is howling from the south. That should not be the case tomorrow! The stands have some of the most comfortable seating for fans of any high school facility I’ve seen in this state.
A poster in our forums says that Blackhills FC are interested in partnering with a USL PDL side, or perhaps starting their own. Is this accurate? What stage of planning is this at?
A USL level in our community makes sense, but it’s a long term ambition along with several other important issues (like qualified coaching, qualified refs, and high youth participation). Blackhills FC is a growing youth club, but we are not yet like the “Big Boys” in terms of size or deep financial pockets. We are going to do what we can to foster the growth of soccer in our community, but that will be limited by our size and financial resources.
The soccer community in the Olympia area seems ever-growing. Are there enough players and fans there to roster and support a PDL side?
That’s a question we are wanting to get more data on ourselves. We are growing the sport in our community at every age and level of play. Situations like this game will allow us to see how ready we are for a new piece of the puzzle to be put in place. We are very grateful to Mr. Jennings and the Tide organization for trying this idea and working through it with us.