The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC return to familiar stomping grounds this weekend for their United Soccer League home opener at the newly christened Switchbacks Stadium.
Back in February, the City of Colorado Springs Parks Department voted unanimously to approve the name change from the former anemic and confusing-to-some "Sand Creek Stadium."
Even though it’ll always be Fortress Sand Creek to many hardcore Switchbacks fans, why is the name change significant? Because it also represents a sea-change. As Kurt Schroeder, Park Operations and Development Manager explained following the sweeping vote
, “The Switchbacks and the Ragain family have fully adopted Colorado Springs as their home and the team’s success on the pitch has been truly remarkable. It seemed only natural that our Sand Creek Stadium should be renamed to Switchbacks Stadium to recognize the positive impact the organization has had and the investment Ragain Sports has made to improve the quality of the facility.”
Is the city of Colorado Springs starting to embrace soccer, and with it the Switchbacks? It would seem so.
Last week, the team invited season ticket holders to an exclusive 2016 season launch party. Fans, Switchbacks leadership and staff, coaches and players, media and public figures, mingled, visited and discussed the exciting 2015 inaugural season and their hopes for 2016. Many were still high on the Switchbacks' incredible opening day USL victory the weekend before, when they beat the Oklahoma City Energy in Oklahoma by a score of 2-1. The Switchbacks lost or drew to both Oklahoma teams, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, in their previous five attempts. This year, they took advantage of their first opportunity — needless to say it was a hot topic of conversation at the launch party!
300 people crammed in to the Gold Room, filling the ground floor and the balcony above, drinking, talking, laughing and making new friends, all bound together by a common thread: their love for the Switchbacks. Last season a gathering of this size was but a dream. This year, with the teams’ mantra being "MyCity, My Team," Mayor John Suthers led the rallying cry at the event. "Colorado Springs is my city and this is my team!" Suthers yelled at the crowd. "Let's go Switchbacks!"
The Switchbacks are clearly making even more of an effort to engage with our city in 2016. This year has already seen an increased Switchbacks presence in our community, with players routinely visiting youth YMCA clubs, schools and others, and the team's 2016 uniforms proudly display the new city logo.
The Switchbacks have their USL home opening game this Saturday, April 9th, at 1:30pm, against the Arizona United, and I know they would be delighted to have you there to cheer on your hometown team
. As Head Coach and former US Men’s International player Steve Trittschuh said on the Back Chat Show on KCMJ 93.9 FM
this week, “I think back to the last home game of last season, the play-off game versus Seattle, and the atmosphere was electric. It was a special night. We want more of those, so please come on out and lend your support.”
When the coach of the highest scoring team in the USL western conference last season asks for your support, and the organization continues to demonstrate its commitment to the city, and when the Mayor leads the rallying cry, doesn’t that pique your interest even a little?
See you at the Fortress!
Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for over 15 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer (football!), hiking and biking when the weathers good, and when the weathers rotten writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett, or the Back Chat show on KCMJ 93.9.