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.
So when the USL came in to town and reported they were impressed by Grand Rapids as a location for a Division franchise, talk about a stadium has heated up again.
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?