The only professional soccer team in Michigan to play in Cooley Law School Stadium
Over 100 were in attendance yesterday at Cooley Law School Stadium for an announcement promising to be the city’s biggest in over two decades. The news did not disappoint, as to the anticipation of many, Lansing Lugnuts owner Tom Dickson and cohorts lifted the veil on a new professional soccer team that’s set to play within Cooley Law School Stadium beginning in spring 2019.
Lansing Ignite FC, owned by Dickson, is a brand-new team that will act as one of the founding members of the newly created professional league to be known as USL League One (United Soccer League). The league is launching as a way to connect fans in new markets with the increasingly popular sport of soccer. USL League One is expected to shape the future of soccer in the United States, acting as an intermediary training ground for future stars and potential recruits hoping to one day reach the more commonly known MLS (Major League Soccer) and international stages. Teams have already been established in other major cities around North America and thus far includ, South Georgia Tomenta FC, FC Tucson, Greenville Triumph SC, Chatanooga Red Wolves SC, Toronto FC II, Orlando City B, the Richmond Kickers and more.
All are set to take part in the 2019 inaugural season, with remaining teams expected to be announced in the coming weeks in addition to information on the league’s competition structure.
“This Is really exciting,” said Dickson. “For the first time in nearly 40 years, we’re bringing a professional outdoor soccer team back to the state of Michigan, and we’re going to turn the Capital City into the Capital of Soccer.”
This league is positioned strategically to leverage momentum of the sport’s popularity within the United States, which has witnessed domestic growth in viewership, participation and support in recent years thanks in part to fans connecting with the World Cup spectacle in recent years. Upon researching potential facilities and cities to create new teams for the league, Lansing-East Lansing was a prime candidate as Cooley is already equipped with the ideal facilities for hosting the team and an ambitious sports community that has experienced the arrival of a professional sports team in the Lugnuts. The market also boasts a population of approximately 500,000 and is home to many major education institutions and Fortune 500 companies, adding to the potential draw of attendees, sponsors and even prospective players.
For many, this also marks an opportunity for Lansing to be the first to bring a professional soccer team to the Mitten State. The city’s previous staple soccer experience, the Lansing United has been shuttered in the wake of this announcement, though that team’s founder, Jeremy Sampson, is one of the chief orchestrators of Ignite FC and has been hired as the team’s general manager and vice president.
“Over the last five years, soccer in Lansing has seen tremendous growth,” Sampson added. “This is a tremendous step for the area and for Michigan as a whole, becoming the only current city in the state to have a professional team.”
Within Michigan, where semi-professional baseball has been one of the few sports to garner fandom on a large scale outside of AAA sport teams for the MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA, the only similar experience you can expect to find is with Detroit FC, which is technically considered a semi-professional, fourth-tier team within the National Premier Soccer League. Similarly, Ignite FC will be a United Soccer League affiliate, sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation, placing it just a step below North America’s largest professional soccer league, the MLS.
The team, including both players and coaching staff, have yet to be announced and are currently in the assembly phase. It is not yet known how Ignite FC intends to scout and recruit talent or how far along they are in the process.
The team’s aesthetic is built on local tradition and is meant to complement the existing brands of Cooley Law School Stadium and the Lansing Lugnuts. The team’s logo is a traditional, three-sided FC crest featuring an illuminated spark plug and the team’s name. The imagery aligns with the Lugnuts theme and additionally celebrates the area’s automotive heritage. The team’s colors (orange, navy, red, silver and white) are all derivative of the colors that are produced when sparks ignite and create a flame. The design of the logo also strategically gives further nods to the city and our region with a spark design that mimics the city’s seal and a custom font that echoes that typeface commonly used on modern Chevrolet vehicles such as the Lansing-produced Camaro, Enclave and Traverse.
To coincide with the unveiling of the team’s logo, attendees of the announcement event were also given a first look at a massive selection of new branded apparel. On-stage, speakers donned the team’s new scarves, a staple piece of any football fan’s gameday wardrobe. To the surprise of many, the full suite of options were available to purchase immediately within the Cooley Law School Stadium fan shop. Items are also available for purchase online via the team’s newly launched website, lansingignite.com
Gear wasn’t the only thing up for grabs for fans. The option to become an inaugural season ticketholder was also made available. For a deposit of $50, individuals are able to begin saving their spot to select tickets and seats at a later date. Becoming a season ticketholder provides you with additional amenities, such as discounted pricing on tickets, a one-of-a-kind scarf, 10 percent off merchandise, post-season and U.S. Open Cup pre-sale opportunities, payment plans and an invitation to ticketholder exclusive events. Tickets are expected to be $15 to $22 per match – a slightly higher average ticket price than the cost of admission to a Lugnuts game, depending on the area you sit in. Each season is expected to be somewhere between 12 and 14 matches.
When the season kicks off in late March or early April 2019, you can be certain that new energy will fill Cooley Law School Stadium as support groups and fans come together to bring the culture of big-league soccer to downtown Lansing. You’ll know the time has arrived when you hear the roars and chants of FC supporters or see plumes of orange smoke bombs erupt with each and every goal.