Lane United FC is very pleased to announce that the Willamalane Center for Sports and Recreation will be its home venue for the 2014-2016 seasons. Lane United managing director Dave Galas and Willamalane deputy superintendent Seve Ghose signed a contract in mid-December that keeps the Reds at Willamalane for at least the next three years.
The Willamalane Center currently boasts two outdoor soccer-specific artifical turf fields, although a November 2012 bond measure has allowed for the construction of two more fields south of the current ones. The Reds will play on the current west field in 2014. That field is also slated to undergo a turf renovation in 2015 using funds from the bond measure.
A grandstand will be erected on the western touchline of the field, said Galas, but final details on the scope of that construction are not available yet.
The ease and supportiveness of the negotiations with Willamalane were a deciding factor in the venue decision, according to Galas. “They’ve offered great support and helped us focus on providing the best possible gameday experience, including concessions and the beer garden,” he said, adding that plans are in the works to establish a beer garden and a concession and fan zone in the parking lot immediately adjacent to the field.
The proximity to public transportation is another “awesome bonus,” Galas mentioned. The #11 LTD bus runs every 10-15 minutes down Springfield’s Main Street, and the fields are about a 300-yard walk from the 32nd St. stop. “We’d love it if as many fans as possible took public transportation to and from our games,” Galas said. “It obviously cuts down on the environmental impact, but also allows people to drink more responsibly.”
Other perks that Galas mentioned were the nearby locker room and restroom facilities at the fields, and the quality of the pitch itself. The fields at Willamalane are 120x70 yards, which is at the upper end of suggested dimensions for pro soccer pitches. He also complimented their soccer-specific design, with anchored goalframes and no field lines from other sports.
For evening kickoffs, the sun setting at the back of the east-facing fans, instead of in their eyes, is “another small detail that adds to the really positive vision we have for Willamalane,” said Galas.
Galas was careful to note that the club had "by no means given up on the search for a long-term, USL Pro-ready home." The issue of Civic Stadium's future remains unresolved at the government level heading into 2014.
The Lane United FC Reds begin their inaugural season in the United Soccer Leagues’ PDL Northwest Division in May of 2014. Seven home league matches, plus an undetermined number of friendlies and playoff or cup games, will be hosted at Willamalane.