Ballard FC’s new semi-professional football team is family-oriented
Just south of Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle, nestled between Magnolia and Queen Anne, imagine Interbay Stadium filled with 1,200 Ballard F.C. cheering football fans. At the final whistle, kids rush to get autographs from players who may be only a decade older than them and have just put on a brilliant football show.
This is the scene former Sounder Lamar Neagle and his co-founders and partners Sam Zisette and Chris Kaimmer envisioned when they co-founded Ballard FC in 2021 – the region’s first semi-professional neighborhood football team. . Bridging the gap between the heights of professional football and the game’s origins at the youth recreational level, Ballard FC is a unique addition to the strong football scene around Puget Sound.
“Seattle has a long tradition of celebrating the city through its sports teams, whether it’s the Seahawks and Mariners, or the Sounders and now Reign. We see the same opportunity for Ballard FC but, as a smaller club, we will be able to provide a different, family-friendly matchday experience and be able to connect players and coaches to our fans,” said co-founder Sam Zisette.
The team’s inaugural season in 2022 is about to begin: Ballard FC will take part in the USL League Two North West Division and eight home games will be played at the Interbay Stadium between May 21 and July 17.
Designed for family fun
Ballard FC’s family goal will include free entry for children 5 and under and back-to-school privileges for all fans. That means no hassle for parents who have to take an overly excited toddler to the adjacent park for a halftime run or who have to rush to the car for a forgotten sun hat.
Through partnerships with Ballard Youth Soccer and other youth organizations, the team will also have the opportunity for young fans to take part in the pre-match outing with the players and stand on the pitch as ball boys during matches.
Several thematic games with special guests and promotions are also planned. The match against Olympia on May 30 will be a celebration of the local muralist Henry and include a meet the artist as well as a creation station for artists of all ages.
Ballard FC players are delighted to see young fans in the stands
The team’s roster includes top talent from local colleges, most of whom grew up in the greater Seattle area. Midfielder Cale Spence is particularly thrilled to be part of his hometown club. “I grew up in Ballard. I know how strong the soccer culture is in this community. It will be a special experience as the season unfolds and we will see families filling the stands and connecting with us.
Interbay’s intimate boundaries and the club’s ongoing efforts to become an active member of the community will provide young fans with opportunities to connect with up-and-coming players. Spence understands the impact this can have on players who are just starting to learn the game: “I was 10 when the Sounders played their first season in MLS. It had a huge influence on my love of the game and my desire to grow as a player.
The difference with Ballard FC will be the closeness that young supporters will be able to have with the players, both on and off the pitch. Close enough to admire and dream – that’s the big gift this little club wants to give families this season.
Ballard FC sold out their opener on May 21, but tickets are still available for the remaining home games and can be purchased here.
Things to know before you go:
- The Interbay stadium is served by several bus lines, including the RapidRide D Line.
- Dress for the weather; stadium seats are uncovered.
- Seated general admission tickets are $15 or free for children 5 and under.
- Concessions will be available through partnerships with Mainstay Provisions, Ethan Stowell’s Ballard Pizza Co. and other outside vendors.
Posted on April 10, 2022
Nils Dahlgren is a Seattle-based freelance writer and father of three. He also blogs at supersolodad.com.