Talk Of A Downtown Soccer Stadium Heats Up Again — But Where Would It Go?
The United Soccer League was in town last month, and they loved our city as a possible destination for an expansion team between now and 2020.
But where would an outdoor stadium fit in an already crowded downtown?
The idea to build a downtown soccer stadium was first broached last December when a Grand Action study recommended a six acre stadium as part of their suggestions for moving Grand Rapids forward.
Currently, The Grand Rapids Football Club plays in Midtown at the venerable Houseman Field, drawing over 4000 fans a game, which is currently above the average attendance for USL games. This is an important fact, because the USL said in their report that a new stadium isn't necessary for expansion to GR.
West Michigan Sports Commission President Mike Guswiler, however, would love to build the $40 million dollar stadium recommended by Grand Action.
Guswiler told the Grand Rapids Business Journal if a stadium for Division III does end up being built, it likely would be designed to accommodate further seating capacity expansion should a hypothetical Grand Rapids team eventually make the move up to Division II.
The question then becomes, where could a stadium fit into an already crowded downtown area? Neither the Grand Action report or the GRBJ article indicated that a site was being considered, but now that things are getting serious, let's have a look around.
Market Street, along the river, just south of Fulton -- This would be an idyllic place for a new stadium, both because of the riverfront scenery and the ability to cross use some of the Van Andel Arena parking venues, but it would be a tight fit.
West Side, south of Wealthy -- Lots of space here, but now you're getting into the definition of whether this is downtown anymore.
Belknap Park -- With downtown expansion sliding north on Monroe, this would be an interesting site, overlooking the city from the top of the hill. But you're asking for a neighborhood to completely accept getting overrun with fans on game night, and that might be a fight.
What about you, do you have any ideas on where a downtown soccer stadium could possibly fit and still be considered downtown?