(Reuters) – OL Reign is moving back to Seattle, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) franchise said on Wednesday, sharing Lumen Field stadium with the National Football League’s (NFL) Seahawks and Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Sounders.
The team relocated to Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium on an interim basis in 2019, with plans for the construction of a soccer-specific stadium nearby, but the project fell through after the coronavirus pandemic forced its suspension.
OL Reign was one of eight teams to play in the NWSL’s inaugural season and was acquired by Olympique Lyonnais owner OL Groupe in 2020.
“To see how far this team and the league have come in nine years is incredible,” said head coach Laura Harvey. “We may not have always had the resources, but we always had the vision, the ambition, and the drive to be something special.”
Harvey was named NWSL coach of the year this season after leading Reign to a 13-3-8 record and midfielder Jess Fishlock took league MVP honours.
The team played at Lumen Field for the first time in August as part of a doubleheader with the Sounders, drawing an NWSL record 27,278 attendance, the franchise said.
“The doubleheader was an incredibly emotional day for the entire team, but especially for those of us that have been with the club since the beginning,” Reign captain Lu Barnes said.
“The match gave us a glimpse of what our future could be if the team returned to Seattle.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)