Spokane soccer fans got a double dose of good news Friday.
As a new stadium rises on the north bank of the Spokane River, the United Soccer League introduced its ownership group, led by Ryan and Katie Harnetiaux.
At the same gathering Friday morning at Brick West Brewing, the new owners confirmed what fans had been hoping for: a professional women’s soccer team in Spokane.
The new stadium already had been earmarked to host a USL League One men’s team and a W League women’s pre-professional club, beginning in the spring of 2024. The USL W League is a pre-professional women’s soccer league founded earlier this year.
The big news was the owners’ intention to add a pro women’s team, presumably in the USL Super League being organized for 2023. The three teams are expected to play almost 40 home matches each year.
“A lot of our interest in joining USL Spokane was driven by the chance to help propel women’s soccer forward – that’s an essential part of this, and that’s why we’re committed to fielding a professional women’s team,” Ryan Harnetiaux said.
A former soccer player, Ryan Harnetiaux is an investor and business strategist with 25 years of experience in portfolio and asset management. Born and raised in Spokane, he graduated from Gonzaga University.
“Katie and I grew up in Spokane, we raised our kids in Spokane, and we saw this as an unbelievable opportunity to support the community we love,” Ryan Harnetiaux said.
“We believe that the USL aligns with our values and that a soccer club can be a very powerful platform for good,” he said.
Katie Harnetiaux currently leads North America consumer marketing at Amazon.
“Soccer was the first sport all three of our children played and not only did we love the game, but it also helped us learn how to be good parents,” she said.
“Now we have this incredible opportunity to build a club that combines three of our favorite things: giving back to the community, helping young people achieve their dreams, and soccer,” Katie Harnetiaux said.
On hand were league COO and Chief Real Estate Officer Justin Papadakis, and USL Super League President Amanda Vandervort.
“We are delighted to welcome Ryan and Katie Harnetiaux and their partners into the USL family,” Papadakis said. “Every aspect of this club will benefit from having an ownership group with Spokane roots and a wide range of business experience.”
The Harnetiauxs live in the Seattle area but said they plan to spend more time in Spokane as the new franchise moves close to taking the pitch.
The prospect of professional soccer in Spokane was boosted by Spokane Public Schools’ approval last spring of a $31 million, 5,000-seat stadium to be located downtown instead of in northwest Spokane.
Though owned by the school district, the stadium will be managed by the Spokane Public Facilities District, which also runs the nearby Arena and newly completed Podium.
The downtown site had been supported since the spring of 2020 by the USL, which promised to bring a League One team to Spokane.
USL League One currently has 11 teams, which play 30 regular-season games, followed by playoffs.
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