Tacoma Stars Set To Relaunch In 2015

by Brett Gleason

TACOMA, Wash. -- They’re back. Under new ownership, and partnered with the Tacoma Rainiers, the Tacoma Stars are set to reclaim their position as the Pacific Northwest’s winter destination for professional soccer.

The latest incarnation of the storied franchise opens its first full season in the Major Arena Soccer League on Friday, November 6 at the ShoWare Center. Season and Group Tickets are available now, with single game tickets expected to go on sale in October 2015. 

Season tickets for the Stars 2015 campaign range from $150 to $250 per seat, and for a limited time, a $500 Legacy Membership guaranteeing lifetime admission to Stars games is available for $500 to the first 253 fans who sign up.

Leading the franchise is owner Lane Smith, whose connection with soccer in the South Sound dates back to the Tacoma native’s days as a player at Lincoln High School. Smith previously partnered with Seattle Sounders FC to establish successful player development franchises, and he currently serves as lease holder and benefactor of the non-profit Tacoma Soccer Center.

Smith purchased the rights to the Tacoma Stars branding and logos in 2014, and was been instrumental in reviving the franchise leading up to its seven-game introduction to the MASL last season.

“I’m a guy that remembers the magic of the Tacoma Stars in the 1980s and KTAC Night at Cheney Stadium said Smith. “Today, everywhere I go in Tacoma wearing Tacoma Stars gear, people come up and ask, ‘That was so fun. When are we going to get the magic back again?’ The answer for old fans that remember, and new fans looking for excitement is November 2015.”

Stars players will be directed by Darren Sawatzky in his second season as the club’s head coach. Sawatzky carries a resume featuring stints as the Director of Youth Development for Seattle Sounders FC, Head Assistant Coach for the USL Sounders, and Assistant Coach at the University of Washington. His playing career includes stops in Major League Soccer at New England, Colorado, and Dallas, along with stints in the United Soccer League with Seattle and Portland, and with Kansas City in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

In addition to his coaching duties, Sawatzky will serve as the general manager of the Stars, and is tasked with acquiring players and implementing an overall club philosophy.

“There are established teams in the professional indoor game, and in order to compete with these teams we have to build a foundation with staying power on the playing side,” said Sawatzky. “In order to do that you need talent, but you also need time to craft your style and philosophy into something bigger than just a quality soccer team.” 

“You need to be an asset to your community. No one gets into professional sports to lose so we plan on winning trophies."

Rounding out the Stars front office is Vice President of Business Development John Crouch, a Tacoma native and owner/operator of South Sound FC - a Tacoma-based semi-pro development team. Crouch also owns Bleach, the iconic lifestyle/clothing store on Pacific Avenue where he creates and sells unique, Tacoma-centric apparel.

With the help of Crouch and Sawatzky, Smith rescued MASL soccer last year, in the market, after taking over the now defunct Seattle Impact and immediately rebranding the team to the Tacoma Stars for the final two home games of the 2014 season.

Led by Team President Aaron Artman, the Tacoma Rainiers Baseball Club will function as a business and marketing partner with the Stars in 2015. Drawing from their deeply-held relationships within the South Sound, the Rainiers will assist with advertising, sponsorship sales, ticket sales and marketing as the team progresses through the launch stage.

Originally established in the 1980s, the Tacoma Stars rose to become the nation’s premiere indoor soccer team under the talent of superstars such as Steve Zungul and Preki. The Stars reached the Major Indoor Soccer League Championship Series in 1987, ultimately falling to the Dallas Sidekicks in the final game of the best-of-seven series. Other iterations of the team have existed in the Western Indoor Soccer League and the Premiere Arena Soccer League.

Legacy Memberships, along with other season tickets packages, group outings, and suite offerings for the 2015 season, are available now. To purchase, call 1-844-STARS-TIME or visit the Tacoma Stars online at www.tacomastars.com. The most up-to-date news and notes about the Stars leading up to the start of the 2015 season can be found by following the Stars on Twitter (@TacomaStarsSC) or liking the team on Facebook.