COLUMBUS, Ohio—Plans are underway to build a new stadium near downtown Cleveland designed to help bring a professional women’s soccer team to the city, according to one of the developers behind the project.
Should the National Women’s Soccer League award Cleveland an expansion team, the stadium could be completed as early as 2026, said Michael Murphy, co-founder and CEO of Cleveland Soccer Group, LLC, in an interview.
The cost of the stadium, which Murphy said is expected to be in the ballpark of $150 million, would be covered partially by team owners and partially by local or state funding. The Ohio House on Wednesday voted to put $1 million in state funding toward the stadium.
Murphy said a couple different sites near downtown Cleveland are being considered for the stadium site, though he declined to provide further details. State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, a Westlake Democrat, said one site under consideration is close to Progressive Field and The Western Reserve Fire Museum and Education Center.
The outdoor stadium, as planned, would seat around 12,000-13,000 people, according to Murphy.
As some of the land under consideration for the stadium is publicly owned, Murphy said he’s working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Cleveland Metroparks on plans to transfer land, if needed. He also said he’s been working with city, Cuyahoga County, and state officials on stadium plans.
Last fall, Cleveland Soccer Group and Rock Entertainment Group launched their campaign to convince the NWSL to place its 16th team in Cleveland. Murphy said as there are no existing venues in the area suitable for a pro women’s sports team, a new stadium is an essential part of their bid.
So far, Murphy said, the ownership group of the would-be soccer team consists of himself and Nolan Gallagher. Both are Cleveland natives who sold their film distribution company for $73 million in 2021.
Last year, Cleveland Soccer Group was awarded an MLS NEXT Pro men’s soccer team, which is coming to Cleveland in 2025. Murphy said that team could also play in the new stadium, though the NWSL expansion team would be the primary tenant.
Right now, there are no stadiums in the world that have been built specifically for pro women’s soccer, though the first such stadium is under construction in Kansas City, according to ABC News.
Marc Bona contributed to this story.