Last November, Angel City FC announced that they will play their home games at Banc of California Stadium. Of course, that won’t be until the Los Angeles-based team kicks off their inaugural season in 2022. Yet, it’s another exciting notion that a National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team will be playing in a soccer-specific stadium.
In the meantime, there are a couple of stadiums that will welcome the NWSL to their grounds for the first time during the 2021 season. Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky and Field of Legends in Kansas City, Kansas will both usher their respective clubs into the league.
When looking at every NWSL club’s primary stadium, there are many details that make each unique in their own right. It’s in these details that heighten both the atmosphere and the love we all share for the league. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at each stadium.
Angel City FC
Since its opening in 2018, Banc of California Stadium has hosted various sporting and entertainment events. The stadium even hosted the United States Women’s National Team in 2019 before they departed to France, where they claimed their fourth World Cup championship.
While constructed primarily as the home of Los Angeles FC, the stadium will now also become the official home of Angel City FC. This highlights a trend in which most NWSL clubs rely on their proximity and/or association to a professional men’s team for their home venue.
Located in the Exposition Park neighborhood of south Los Angeles, the stadium is situated alongside several other venues and attractions. Though naming rights are currently up in the air, the structure itself has quickly become notable for being the first open-air stadium built within the city since 1962.
Name: Banc of California Stadium
Location: Los Angeles, California
Surface: Latitude 36 Bermudagrass
Chicago Red Stars
The Chicago Red Stars and SeatGeek Stadium go hand in hand. After all, it was at the stadium where the team name and logo were first unveiled in 2008. Of course, this was back during the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) era and when the stadium was still known as Toyota Park.
Through the years, the Red Stars went on to play at different venues. But in 2016, the team returned to their original home. And, after the Chicago Fire returned to Soldier Field, the Red Stars became the primary tenants of SeatGeek Stadium in 2020.
Location: Bridgeview, Illinois
Surface: Kentucky bluegrass
Like other NWSL clubs associated with a Major League Soccer team, the Houston Dash benefit from their ownership. They both train and play at the same facilities as their MLS counterparts.
While the Dash play their home games at BBVA Stadium, attendance has been difficult to come by for the NWSL side. Yet, a change in mentality, a significant uptick in results and a recent rebrand could favor the Houston-based club once the coronavirus pandemic nears its end.
Located in East Downtown Houston, BBVA Stadium has played host to several big-name events. This includes both men’s and women’s international matches, as well as concert events from musicians such as Ed Sheeran and Kendrick Lamar.
Name: BBVA Stadium
Location: Houston, Texas
Surface: Celebration Bermudagrass
Kansas City NWSL
Many questions arose in early December 2020 when it was announced that NWSL would be returning to Kansas City. After all, FC Kansas City ceased operations and transferred its assets to Utah Royals FC just three years prior.
One question answered early on was where the team would play its home games. This information was revealed through the team’s partnership with the Kansas City Monarchs of the American Association of Professional Baseball. Together with the Monarchs, Kansas City NWSL will call Field of Legends its home.
Located in the Kansas City neighborhood of Piper, Field of Legends was built primarily as a baseball park. However, additional construction was completed in 2008 to allow the park the ability to also cater to soccer games.
From 2008 to 2010, the Kansas City Wizards of MLS called the stadium home. Therefore, from a logistical standpoint, it is the appropriate location for NWSL to make its Kansas City return.
Name: Field of Legends
Location: Kansas City, Kansas
North Carolina Courage
Since the founding of the North Carolina Courage in 2017, Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park has played host to the club’s home games. While the Courage and their United Soccer League counterparts have plans for a much larger stadium, Sahlen’s Stadium suits the Courage well – especially given the stadium’s history.
Constructed in 2002, the stadium was built as the home of the Carolina Courage of the Women’s United Soccer Association. While the WUSA dissolved after the 2003 season, the stadium found use in many ways through the years. From hosting the NCAA Women’s College Cup to several men’s and women’s national team matches, the soccer park as a whole is a modern staple in American soccer.
Name: Sahlen’s Stadium
Location: Cary, North Carolina
Surface: Natural grass
OL Reign currently play at the stadium with the smallest capacity. Though, this is only temporary as the team awaits the construction of their soccer-specific stadium at the Heidelberg Sports Village in Tacoma, Washington.
In the meantime, Cheney Stadium is where OL Reign call home. Adjacent to their eventual home at Heidelberg Sports Village, the minor league baseball stadium has a busy groundskeeping crew that transforms the field from baseball to soccer several times a season.
“There’s no better feeling than getting the ball field ready for a baseball homestand or a soccer match,” said head groundskeeper Michael Huie. “You put in a ton of time and effort, skipping lunch to get this done. No one wants to work 80-100 hours a week if they’re sane. There’s got to be something that drives you. This is what drives me.”
Name: Cheney Stadium
Location: Tacoma, Washington
Surface: Natural grass
Apart from their inaugural season, the Orlando Pride have had the luxury to call Exploria Stadium home. The stadium formally known as Orlando City Stadium is owned and operated by Orlando City SC and is located in the Parramore neighborhood of west-central Orlando, Florida.
Since opening in 2017, the stadium has quickly become a go-to destination for hosting soccer events. In late 2020, the final stages of the CONCACAF Champions League played out at Exploria Stadium while the 2021 SheBelieves Cup was also hosted entirely at the stadium.
Name: Exploria Stadium
Location: Orlando, Florida
Surface: Natural grass
Portland Thorns FC
One of the most historic and prolific soccer stadiums in the United States is Providence Park in Portland, Oregon. Home to both the Portland Thorns and the Portland Timbers, Providence Park is known for its exhilarating atmosphere that is present in both NWSL and MLS matches.
Located at the site of Multnomah Field, the stadium’s roots date all the way back to 1893. With such a long history, it’s no wonder that the stadium has welcomed several significant events throughout the last 100+ years. This includes both the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cups.
The stadium has even been featured in episodes of television series such as Leverage and Portlandia, as well as in the FIFA video game series.
Name: Providence Park
Location: Portland, Oregon
Surface: FieldTurf Revolution 360
Racing Louisville FC
One of the newest soccer-specific stadiums to grace the NWSL is Lynn Family Stadium located in Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville. Home to Racing Louisville FC, the stadium officially opened on July 12, 2020 after the pandemic pushed back the original opening date by several months.
Constructed east of downtown Louisville, the stadium is owned by Soccer Holdings, LLC. The ownership is also in charge of Louisville City FC of the USL Championship and manages the stadium in partnership with ASM Global.
Currently the stadium’s total capacity can hold over 15,000 spectators. Though, plans do exist to expand the stadium to a venue capacity of 20,000 should the USL team ever join MLS.
The stadium will host its first-ever NWSL match during the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup on April 10. Racing Louisville FC will make their NWSL debut in that match, as they take on the Orlando Pride.
Name: Lynn Family Stadium
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Surface: Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass
Sky Blue FC
Two teams that continue to toggle between different stadiums are Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit. In 2019, it was announced that Sky Blue FC would play its 2020 home games at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. However, the pandemic hit and shifted these plans.
When the time came in 2020 for Sky Blue FC to require a home venue, the team opted to call Montclair State University its temporary home for the NWSL Fall Series. Because of continued scheduling conflicts, the Montclair, New Jersey-based soccer park will continue to host Sky Blue FC for the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup as well.
Home to the Montclair State Red Hawks of the NCAA and the New York Red Bulls II of the USL Championship, MSU Soccer Park opened in 1998. The soccer-specific stadium underwent several renovations over the years, resulting in its current 5,000-seat capacity and FieldTurf playing surface.
Name: Red Bull Arena
Location: Harrison, New Jersey
Surface: Kentucky bluegrass
Between 2013 and 2019, the Washington Spirit called the Maryland SoccerPlex home. Initially, the sports complex was in the team’s plans for the 2020 season along with Audi Field and Segra Field. However, the team shifted entirely to Segra Field for the 2020 NWSL Fall Series.
Built for D.C. United of MLS, Audi Field has a capacity of 20,000 and is the more preferred home destination for the Spirit. Though, the NWSL side’s training facilities are located at Segra Field which is also operated by United. Having the flexibility to utilize both stadiums depending on scheduling availability proves to be beneficial for the Spirit in the meantime.
Moving forward, the team plans to play a mixture of its home games at both Audi Field and Segra Field. Yet. similar to Sky Blue FC and MSU Soccer Park, the Spirit will remain primarily at the smaller Segra Field venue until pandemic restrictions lift.
Name: Audi Field
Location: Washington, D.C.
Surface: NorthBridge Bermudagrass