By: Mitchal Rosendall
In case you haven’t been following every moment of the the GRFC’s brief break from NPSL play, let’s refresh our memories of the moves management has (and hasn’t) made, and look ahead to where the lineup stands as they prepare a warm Houseman Field welcome for Livonia City FC on Friday, May 4 at 7:30 PM.
Ok, so what changes has the club made?
Overall, a lot of terrific things have happened this off season that GRFC fans will be proud of. Stadium attendance will likely grow now that Grand Rapids FC (GRFC) and Grand Rapids Public School’s (GRPS) have finally struck a deal allowing alcohol to be served at Houseman Field. Hallelujah, bravo, encore! New Holland has even brewed the Club an official beer of its own, called Xtra Time.
Who doesn’t like $5.00 tickets? Well, I’m not saying all tickets are five bucks, but hey, let’s just say families would spend more going to a movie. It’s a decent bargain and almost instantaneously entertaining. The communal atmosphere is amazing. There’s drums playing and you start to sing along with the Grand Army. I wish the pitch was a natural grass playing surface but there’s nothing like fresh air and futbol if you ask me. Yet, I understand you may miss too much by actually being there since there’s no replay. Or does it all just come down to money? Fact is, you pay for cable already and you can’t buy gigantic bags of two dollar snacks at the stadium, right?
Wait, you can watch GRFC games on television?
Yes, the Club is proud to announce its official media partnership with WGVU Public Media for the 2018 NPSL season where they will stream GRFC home games live on the television. iHeartMedia West Michigan affiliates ESPN 96.1 and Star 105.7 are proud to be involved with the promotion of another season as well. Tune in!
What will the games be like at the stadium?
The majority of home games this year will have a theme: Dog night, Military night, Youth night, and College night to name some. Come and hang out in a different environment and feel welcome, said GRFC President, Mat Roberts. “I want this to be the City’s club, something that everyone is proud of, and we also don't want to shut out anyone that doesnt have the access, cash or funds to come to the games” A big thing this year is getting the GRFC players out in front of kids. The players have learned so much about life with a ball at their feet and they plan on visiting local youth clubs and schools instructing kids on new skills and life lessons they’ve learned playing the game.
Okay, so where’s the bad news?
The big one here is the talk about a new stadium and the 201 Market bid. I’ll slide away from the details on the location and say that GRFC has sold a percentage of the club to investors with the goal to get GRFC it’s own stadium on downtown Grand Rapids. Statements made by Mat Roberts at the Aquinas College Coffee Series suggest the other two locations in mind are on the West and Northwest sides of town. The finances are there to build a new stadium in Byron Center tomorrow but there’s other opportunities to think about, and frankly, I’d be livid if the new stadium wasn’t in downtown. GRFC’s goal of aspiring to go pro at some level and ability to pay players aren’t possible at Houseman Field because there’s a track around the stadium and football lines.
What about the Coach?
GRFC Director of Soccer Operations, Lewis Robinson is will take over the GRFC Men’s team for the 2018 season after leading the GRFC Women to a UWS title their first year this past summer. The level of Women’s talent in West Michigan is just draw dropping currently. Those Women are going to be winners for a long time and I strongly recommend checking one of their home games at Grandville High school. Lewis is also the Women’s Head Coach at Aquinas College and Director of Coaching at the youth level with Midwest United where he’s won 2 National Championships.
Alright, how they’ll look when completely healthy?
With the 2018 National Premier Soccer League season fast approaching, Grand Rapids Football Club has been hard at work putting together a squad that reflects the team’s goal of winning the NPSL National Championship. New key additions and injuries being what they are, it’s challenging to predict an “ideal” starting XI, but this is my best guess as to how it would look if they ever have the opportunity.
GRFC returns to Houseman Field on Friday, May 4 as the Boys in Blue host Livonia City FC at 7:30 p.m. Come join in the fun at Houseman Field in Midtown as minor league soccer is back in West Michigan! Additional home dates include May 19, May 27, June 3, June 8, June 15, June 22, June 29 and July 7. Get your tickets at grandrapidsfc.com, get your gear at Gazelle Sports Soccer, and get your voices ready to help out The Grand Army and support the Boys in Blue.