BELLINGHAM, WA— The Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) general meeting last November in Yakima produced open dialog about where clubs hold their home matches. When the league was founded back in 2013 there was a consensus that ‘stadiums’ were the way to go – most often renting from schools, districts or colleges.
In 2016 Vancouver Victory FC left the expensive confines of 5,000 seat McKenzie Stadium at Evergreen High School and made their own home out of new pitches at Harmony Sports Complex. Attendance for V2FC didn’t change much, ranging 250-400 per match.
The Victory won the EPLWA and also improved their finances by thousands. It was a winning formula that included certain sacrifices. The club had to put up and take down tents, souvenir tables, speakers, and portable seating for each match. Players had to change in areas that were a bit of a walk from the pitch, as did referees. Fans had to walk farther for restrooms.
Vancouver Victory at Harmony Sports Complex in 2016.
“We are hearing back from our clubs that stadium rentals are an increasing burden for some,” says EPLWA Media Director David Falk. “In one case, rental use of a scoreboard was more expensive than rental of the field below it. Our mantra of fostering club cultures is directly related to where our clubs play. We are learning that with flexibility we are opening up new chances to create unique venues and fan experiences.”
Evergreen Premier League clubs are currently submitting available dates for the building of the 2017 season schedule. Expect several clubs to announce non-stadium venues in the weeks and months ahead.