Oakland Roots SC and Soul SC to explore new stadium development

Oakland Roots SC and Oakland Soul SC have announced plans to explore developing a stadium for the club’s USL Championship team and USL W League team, which will begin play in 2023, with the rapid growth of the club and its fanbase since its move to become part of the USL now requiring a larger facility than its current home of Laney College Stadium.

Roots and Soul President, Lindsay Barenz, said:

The challenge of finding facilities that meet the standards for top-level pro sports in Oakland are well-known, but it’s a challenge we’re happy to embrace. We’ve been working hard to explore all options, both short and long term, to create a permanent home for pro soccer in The Town that reflects our commitment to the community.

The club aims to find a site for an ‘interim stadium’ where Roots SC, Soul SC and Project 51O – the club’s development program for local talent that competes in USL League Two – can play for the next several years until a permanent home can be constructed. The club is exploring multiple sites that could accommodate a privately financed, modular stadium capable of holding up to 10,000 fans.

Laney College has been the home of Oakland Roots SC since the club’s debut in 2019 and has been central to its growth into one of the fastest-growing brands in American sports. The support of the faculty, staff, Athletics Department at Laney College, and the entire Peralta Community College District have helped Roots SC develop a passionate supporter culture and unique gameday experience that is truly representative of Oakland. While the club explores possibilities for an interim and permanent home, Oakland Roots will continue to play at Laney College.

Laney Athletic Director and Head Football Coach, John Beam, said:

Oakland Roots have been great for all sports in The Town, showing what this city is all about. It has been a pleasure helping this team reach the levels they have on the field and in the community. We look forward to our continued work together. 2 Claps, Ready Ready!

Roots SC is the first, purpose-driven sports team in the United States. The club’s purpose is to harness the magic of Oakland and the power of sports as a force for social good, and this commitment has been at the heart of the organisation’s rise from the third division National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) to the USL Championship (USL-C), becoming part of the largest professional soccer organisation in the United States, in just a few short years. Roots SC has generated international acclaim for its commitment to racial and gender justice which has attracted support from proud representatives of Oakland, like NFL legend Marshawn Lynch, and many others.

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My Yute Soccer Co-founder, Steve Sparkes, said:

This is great news. I’ve been waiting 30+ years for a soccer stadium in Oakland. It’s been way too long, and Roots are getting it done. It’s great not only for all of us in the soccer community who support youth to play the sport, but it’s also great for the wider Oakland community. Families, fans, and our soon to be Oakland Soul team members will enjoy an authentic soccer facility. We’re very excited here at My Yute Soccer. Roots putting down roots!

Roots SC is the first and only club in the United States to join the global Common Goal movement, pledging 1% of player and staff salaries to social impact projects like the groundbreaking ‘Switch the Pitch’ anti-racism project launched this year and ‘Play Proud’, a collaboration with teams across the USA, Canada, and Mexico to build safe soccer spaces for the LGBTQ community. The club has invested in supporting free-to-play soccer programs within Oakland through its support of ‘Purpose Partners’ like Soccer Without Borders, America SCORES, My Yute Soccer, Street Soccer USA, and Oakland Genesis.

Oakland Roots places a strong focus on the use of sport in promoting mental health for youth, by training local soccer coaches and being one of very few teams to employ a Mental Health Performance Coach to support the team’s players on and off the field. The team also created the Oakland Roots Justice Fund to support causes at the intersection of race and gender justice, supporting local Oakland non-profits like Black Liberation Walking Tour, Young Women Freedom Center, Radical Monarchs, Chapter 510, Huey P. Newton Foundation, Ella Baker Center, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, and many more.

Roots Co-Owner Marshawn Lynch, said:

The opportunities for Oakland Roots and sports in Da’ Town are solid. People wanna focus on who left or who might leave but there’s still a lot to build on. Whenever you sincerely and wholeheartedly tap in with the community, good things are gonna happen. At the end of the day, that’s what makes our Roots team and organization hella different. We are always doing our best to put Oakland first, the families, businesses, the OG’s and the youngin’s and that alone will continue to set us apart.

The club intends to approach the development of both interim and permanent stadiums with the same commitment to community which has characterised its growth to date. We believe a new, professional-standard sports facility will be an important asset to the City of Oakland at a time when it is most needed. The club will offer more community information as Roots SC looks to have open discussions face-to-face to hear from all community members and fans, with more information on these events to come. The commitment to Oakland will only deepen with this effort and the club’s Purpose remains the same.

Source: USL

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