Kickers kicking off next big upgrade at City Stadium

City Stadium

The Kickers signed a long-term lease in 2016 to use the city-owned stadium and make upgrades over time. (Image courtesy WTVR)

With a new season underway and a brand-new women’s club set to debut, the Richmond Kickers are looking to spruce up their stadium. 

The local pro soccer team is planning to replace the 30-year-old scoreboard at City Stadium with a new, larger video board. It’s a next step in the long-term lease the club signed with the city in 2016 to upgrade and renovate the city-owned stadium at 3301 Maplewood Ave., which has been the team’s home since 1995. 

The first round of improvements as part of that deal were unveiled in 2020, just days before the pandemic arrived and upended the Kickers’ season.

While the existing scoreboard doesn’t have a screen and can only show the score, Rob Ukrop, who leads the Kickers’ ownership group, said the new board will be capable of showing replays, live stats and more. 

Rob Ukrop large

Rob Ukrop

“It’s a full-on video board like you’d see at an NFL stadium but, obviously, not quite as big as those,” Ukrop said. “I think it’s going to add another layer of excitement to the games and professionalize the venue.”

At 65 feet by 35 feet, the new video board will be considerably larger than the existing scoreboard that sits near the concourse at the northern end of City Stadium. Ukrop said the new board would be placed downhill about 40 feet closer to the playing field, and that they’re hoping to have it installed sometime this summer. 

Other planned upgrades include renovating the press box, improving the main concourse and parking lot and building mini-fields and Futsal courts on the stadium grounds. 

Ukrop said the club has spent about $3 million on upgrades since 2019 and that the next thing he’d like to focus on is adding seats with backs in the main stand. City Stadium primarily has bleacher seating, and Ukrop said they’re prioritizing adding seat-backs going forward. 

The ongoing upgrades will also benefit the Richmond Ivy, the new local women’s soccer team the Kickers unveiled in recent weeks. The Ivy is part of the same ownership group that controls the Kickers, 22 Holdings LLC. The Ivy will play in the USL W League beginning this season. Its home turf will be City Stadium. 

Richmond Ivy shield

The shield for the Richmond Ivy. (Courtesy Richmond Ivy)

The Ivy will be a “pre-professional” team, meaning the players are unpaid and maintain amateur status so they can play at the collegiate level. The Ivy are the second pre-professional women’s team to make a go of it in Richmond, joining the Richmond Kickers Destiny that played from 2005 to 2009.

The USL W League was founded in 2021, and at the time, the Kickers were approached by the league, Ukrop said.

“They asked if we wanted to do it, and I’m an optimist by nature and I desperately wanted to do it. But in talking to our leadership team and some other investors, it just wasn’t viable at the time,” Ukrop said. 

“Covid changed our financial outlook, so we wanted to make sure we were on stable footing…We’re finding that footing so we felt this was the year to make the leap into the W League.”

Ukrop said the popularity of the women’s game is growing both on a local and national level. 

“The World Cup’s coming (to the U.S.) in 2026 and there’s a ton of interest and excitement (in soccer). But for us, we were looking locally (asking ourselves) how do we provide opportunities and connect with young women in the community that have been so supportive of the men’s team but want to have their own brand they can call their own?” Ukrop said. 

The Ivy will play teams from around the state and Mid-Atlantic, including Charlottesville Blues FC, another newly launched squad. 

The Ivy’s first game will be held at City Stadium on May 11, and Ukrop said the local soccer community is already getting behind the team. In addition to selling around 600 Ivy season ticket packages, Ukrop said the crowd at the Kickers’ game featured plenty of Ivy merchandise. 

“In the team shop we’ve got Kickers and Ivy gear now,” he said. “And I was surprised at how many people were walking around in Ivy hats, Ivy shirts and Ivy sweatshirts.”

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William Willis
William Willis
18 days ago

Love the impact the kickers and now the Ivy are making on the Richmond community. I wish the Kickers and the City would work together and build a brand new stadium for them. Don’t know if it would fit but always thought in Manchester right up against the floodwall where the old train loop was next to Manchester Bridge with the city skyline and river views would be an amazing spot for an stadium.

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
18 days ago
Reply to  William Willis

No need for a new stadium. Focus on improvement of what we already have. Historic club at historic grounds.

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
18 days ago
Reply to  William Willis

A new stadium would be a huge waste of money, invest in what we have and improve it.

Scott Gravitt
Scott Gravitt
18 days ago
Reply to  William Willis

Our city does not have the best history with new stadiums or coliseums. Plenty of improvements can be made at the current location to meet the needs of the club and the community.

Craig Davis
Craig Davis
18 days ago
Reply to  William Willis

oh my god William. Google Richmond Braves – Flying Squirrel Stadium. The baseball stadium has been going on for 18 years…. No way you want to wish that on the soccer community.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
18 days ago
Reply to  William Willis

Somebody needs to read a book on the economics of muni-sports. The city almost always net loses big, yet the citizens believe there is an advantage.

Scott Brown
Scott Brown
18 days ago

First of all I am a big soccer fan, but there is a reason that the Flying Squirrels have bigger crowds than the Kickers. The Kicker’s try to be all things to all people and do not have a family friendly atmosphere. Hopefully with the W-League they will be more family friendly and parents will be able to take their young kids to a game without having to deal with drunk “supporters” waving non-soccer flags and using vulgar language. There are thousands of youth soccer players in the richmond community. Much more than baseball. If the Kickers had a more… Read more »

Scott Brown
Scott Brown
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

Can someone please tell me why there are more fans at a mid-week Sqirrels game than a Kickers’ game on a Saturday night?

This is a serious question.

My thoughts, from a business point of view, is that the Kickers are not targeting the largest market in the Richmond community. If this is not why, please explain what is the issue.

Randy Sharrer
Randy Sharrer
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

Hmm…Kickers not family friendly? Geez. I’ve never had an issue at the stadium with my family going – they keep their “Red Army” pretty well segregated and if you want, go sit on the opposite end from where they are located. I’ve never really have seen anyone completely sloshed at a Kickers game. I think there are just as many possible blotto fans at the Squirrels. As far as the flag waving goes, what one bothers you Scott? Now, as far as promoting within the Youth Soccer community, yes, I think they can do a better job there. Back when… Read more »

Scott Brown
Scott Brown
18 days ago
Reply to  Randy Sharrer

Randy, Thank you for the detialed and well thought out reply. As for the flag question: please see my reply to Ed. Also, I agree with your view on the Ivy. I am glad they are looking at a wide rage of players. I think 2 of them even play at CNU, a D3 school. Just another note: If people out their take their daughters/nieces to a Kickers game, please take them and your sons/nephews to an IVY game. It may be pre-professional, but that just means that they want to show you what they have. Let them by being… Read more »

Randy Sharrer
Randy Sharrer
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

No problem Scott. I got a bit winded. The Ivy does have a pretty wide ranging roster of talent, most locally grown. From Kam like I mentioned to D3 players at CNU as you say. It should be fun to see what they do over the short summer season. First game is May 11. There certainly is more opportunity to entertain kids with non-sport “sideshows” at a baseball game than a soccer game – plenty of downtime between innings for things to occur versus half time. As far as the flag stuff, I respectfully disagree. I had to have far… Read more »

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
18 days ago
Reply to  Randy Sharrer

F Biden merch, a huge cartoon genitals on a sign, and several guns, but it’s the rainbow flag people worry about

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
18 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

I’d be happy seeing no political stuff at non-political events.

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
18 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Political stuff? I think you are making it political.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

We disagree. I don’t want to see anti-biden/trump, pro-anti- identity groups other than the teams at play. I also don’t like the advertising, but I recognize that is part of the whole enterprise.

Jay Emory
Jay Emory
17 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

I’d consider driving down Hull Street a “non-political event” but just today I had to stare at Trump flipping me the bird from the back windshield of what I can only assume is a truck owned by a man compensating for something. In other words, there’s a group in this country who will turn anything into a political event.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Jay Emory

Well, I am not the guy you are talking about, and I have never had so much as ever had a political bumper sticker on my car or button/t-shirt on my person. And, yes, I bet the guy you are talking about IS compensating for something, but so were all the people with Obama stuff on their cars. I am not sure it is a “group” more than a personality type(s) — the same general personality type can have a differently focused political obsessiveness due to being born in different neighborhoods, families, religious groups or having different immutable characteristics —… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

I drive a 2011 Hybrid with a sticker of the Yoga studio my wife patronizes on it because it used to be her car. If I am compensationg for something, I better up my game!!! Maybe I am compensating for a smug sense of superiority by driving around a boring car!!!

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
13 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

“Obama people” didn’t storm the capital on J6.

karl hott
karl hott
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

Squirrels do a much better job of marketing.

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
18 days ago
Reply to  karl hott

Respectfully disagree. I actually don’t see much Squirrels marketing propaganda. I see way more from the Kickers. Than again I’m not a baseball fan, and I’ll bet the internet knows it so it doesn’t market it to me. I do see more Kickers on the local news outlets than Squirrels. Anyway… Randy’s comments are on point.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

karl said “Better Job” — not “More”

I was impressed by their savvy when they crowdsourced the naming of their team, i.e, early on.

Robbie Asplund
Robbie Asplund
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

Found the Librarian…

Riley D. Champine
Riley D. Champine
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

It’s absolute nonsense to consider the Kicker’s atmosphere “not family friendly”. Children of all ages attend the games and many seem to love joining the cheering and rhythm of the supporters group — who are an extremely positive and welcoming bunch. Perhaps that section is less sterile than a baseball game (no disrespect to the Squirrels, they also have a great minor league experience!), but if drumming and chanting aren’t your cup of tea, you can literally sit on the opposite end of the stadium since it’s general admission. And if by “non-soccer flag” you’re alluding to a rainbow flag… Read more »

Last edited 18 days ago by Riley D. Champine
Ed Christina
Ed Christina
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

I find it almost impossible to believe that you have ever been to a Kickers game. All the “rowdy” fans congregate in one section. The “Red Army” has been doing it for years, which means not only is 90% of the facility family friendly but every game I’ve ever been to is swarming with kids: families, birthday parties and youth teams wearing team jerseys. . I’d guess 50% of the crowd at an average game is under 18, so how much more family friendly could they get? I can’t recall ever seeing a really inebriated person at a game. As… Read more »

Scott Brown
Scott Brown
18 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Yes, I have been to a number of Kickers’ games and enjoy them, when the Kickers have a good team. I also have friends and family that will take their kids, who play soccer, to a baseball games instead, because they say “it’s more fun for the kids”. The issue is not the people that attend the games, the issue is the people who do not attend and why. Just image if these parents thought the Kickers’s games were more fun for their kids. No flag is “offensive” to me, but parents may not want to have certain conversations with… Read more »

Justin Ranson
Justin Ranson
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

I’ve never seen a flag at a sporting event that required me to have an immediate conversation with my kids.

George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
18 days ago
Reply to  Justin Ranson

“Daddy, why does that rainbow have an arrow through it and what in holy **ll does it have to do with this match?”
“Daddy, so they’re saying there are no post-op ‘women’ playing… but should be?”
“Daddy if the rainbow with an arrow flag people want augmented or formerly men and women playing, why are they making and supporting a separate gender specific league?”
Blessed be the uninquisitive and not too sharp child.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
18 days ago

Good post!

Esp the last paragraph — the whole women’s leagues are designed to be a carve out free from those who have men’s bodies.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
18 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

I’ll do you one better — the types of soccer games that people REALLY like to see, like the ones in Europe, actually have louts. People who go there to fight, often to beat people up for no reason.

Of course, many localities try to keep these people out of the stadium, understandably, esp in Germany.

My point is that even these sociopaths don’t keep people away from the games in places where watching soccer is considered to have a high social value.

George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

It seems you may be conflating 2 separate phenomena. First, the infiltration of American “soccer” by the sexual preference groups and other political groups, many of whom only have an interest in the game as far as they can use it as a platform to broadcast their non-sporting message. Unlike most people who seek refuge in sport to escape the politicization and sexualization of everything in this society, American “soccer” has allowed those who do not to take center stage. Don’t get me wrong, football clubs have often served as a form of political expression in Europe (Celtic, Barcelona, etc.)… Read more »

Randy Sharrer
Randy Sharrer
18 days ago

We are fortunate here in RVA to have (2) great options for family entertainment in the summer between the Squirrels and Kickers. Adding the Ivy to the mix adds to that as well. I know that my daughter is excited for the season and is looking forward to attending several of the games. I’m happy that the Kickers continue to invest in City Stadium. While it may never match Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh for example (https://highmarkstadium.com/) it has it’s own unique charm. With the Kickers moving down to USL League 1, I think it’s fine and in fact they outdraw… Read more »

David J. Kupstas
David J. Kupstas
18 days ago
Reply to  Randy Sharrer

Do you know why those stands have never been replaced? My recollection from many years ago is they are unsafe. It seems like if they are making all these other changes, they should go ahead and replace those as well. Maybe the capacity is enough as it is, I don’t know.

Randy Sharrer
Randy Sharrer
18 days ago

My understanding is similar to yours – I believe that they have been deemed unsafe for mass seating, thus only the balls boys and camera guys are over there.

When the Spiders were playing there, my neighbor had their season tickets on that side of the field.

Unless they want to attract other events to City Stadium, I don’t see an immediate need to return the capacity with the replacement of those seats – The capacity of the stadium is listed as 22K with all seats used which is way above what the Kickers are drawing today.

John Gerencser
John Gerencser
18 days ago

The Kickers should explore the idea of building a stadium behind the Science Museum where the Red…Commanders held training camp. Perfect place, (my opinion) and all sports would be located in the same general area. VCU could also use the stadium allowing them to build a NCAA championship real athletics track with a NCAA championship ready indoor track facility. The area is dead right now as is.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
18 days ago
Reply to  John Gerencser

VCU is going to build a brand new stadium for soccer in their new athletic village. And the Training Camp is being abandoned by its last tenant (Bon Secours) and is state owned (just city leased) land. I have a feeling this site will fall further into disuse and serious planning needs to start now for a reuse of the site. But it is the under the our fabulous EDA (eye roll) City’s lease is until 2033 and we pay the state $700,000 a year in rent.

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
18 days ago

Big Brain Idea: How about we bring the Redskins down to Richmond and give them back their name in the process? Majorly upgrade Kickers stadium and make this their new home here. This would bring a crap ton of investment to the area if this happened, especially to nearby Carytown.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
18 days ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

Great idea, we can just use eminent domain to clear out Windsor Farms

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
18 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

I would rather not destroy perfectly good farmland…..

Blair Archibald
Blair Archibald
18 days ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

It appears that there might be some oversight regarding the implications of situating an NFL stadium within a small residential neighborhood, particularly one encircled by highways and other residential areas. Commanders Field would essentially engulf the entire Stadium neighborhood, and the issue of parking infrastructure remains unresolved given the lack of space for sizable parking garages nearby. Furthermore, transit accessibility in this vicinity is subpar, and the existing highway infrastructure would struggle to accommodate the influx of traffic associated with NFL events. I won’t even get into the whole bigoted name thing. If your suggestion was meant in jest, then… Read more »

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
18 days ago

Your lefty remark towards the Redskins name definitely show your true colors. Why won’t you people just stop whining about everything? People like you and your cancerous politics are one of the many reasons why our world is so fricked up right now. There was nothing ever wrong with that name and you know it deep down. Stop listening to the woke mob and grow up.

Jay Emory
Jay Emory
17 days ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

The question is why does the name change trigger you to this level?

Steve Cook
Steve Cook
18 days ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

Why are so may thumbs downing this comment? It may not be entirely feasible but it’s a fun read. Are all of you business geniuses a sour grapes group? Lighten up.

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
18 days ago
Reply to  Steve Cook

I bet alot of them are bots.

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
18 days ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

yea, ’cause the bots are def commenting on Bizsense articles for Richmond Virginia. And, let me check my notes, Ah yes…you are the only one pulling out the political BS. Go hug your Rugar for comfort.

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
17 days ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

And alot of bots deny when they get called out on stuff. Take a hike.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

I think the definition of “bots” seems to be getting vague.

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
15 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

A little digging online and it seems about 2/3rds of internet traffic is bots posing as real people. This problem really needs to be taken care of in Congress. All bots should be clearly labeled as such and should only be for assistance services. They shouldn’t be on comments sections wasting space.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
14 days ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

Well, sure.

Have you ever been accused of being a bot? I have. That’s more what I am talking about — people saying that the folks who disagree with them are bots.

Michael Boyer
Michael Boyer
18 days ago

The stories that place could tell.

Randy Sharrer
Randy Sharrer
18 days ago
Reply to  Michael Boyer
Ed Christina
Ed Christina
18 days ago
Reply to  Randy Sharrer

So you’re scared to take your family there because hippies were there 50 years ago?

Randy Sharrer
Randy Sharrer
18 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Hmm…think this comment from Ed to me might be in error – I have been to plenty of events at City Stadium and was commenting specifically on the “storied” nature of the venue, specifically what I think is really overtop the event that is well documented on the Times-Dispatch site.

Arnold Hager
Arnold Hager
17 days ago
Reply to  Randy Sharrer

good photos.

45444554
Arnold Hager
Arnold Hager
18 days ago
Reply to  Michael Boyer

My memories are mostly from the 1960’s as we lived across the street from City Stadium. Friday night was high school football games and Saturday afternoon was college football games with semi-pro games Saturday night. The Richmond Mustangs once won a game 105-0. Some of the big events were The Tobacco Bowl game on the Saturday after the Friday night Tobacco Bowl Parade. My favorite Grand Marshall was Edie Adams. The Monkees with Gary Lewis and the Playboys had a concert there. James Brown and the All-Star Revue played there as well. TJ/JM was always a big game as was… Read more »

Arnold Hager
Arnold Hager
18 days ago
Reply to  Arnold Hager

Richmond with a smaller population back then used to pack that stadium full. SRO was normal for some events. I think there was once over 30,000 people one Saturday afternoon for a Maggie Walker-Armstrong game.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
18 days ago
Reply to  Arnold Hager

I think that may be an artifact of a time when life was much more local. I lived in a small town for 4 years that had a bandstand in the park that people actually used and lots of silly events that the people actually brought their families out to, since most of what the events were were more about togetherness than the thrill of a Rubber Ducky Race or a 4th rate fireworks display. The reason this was almost a town that time forgot is unclear to me, but part of it was probably that it was rather isolated,… Read more »

Peter James
Peter James
18 days ago
Reply to  Michael Boyer

So true. I recall as a sports writer for the AP back in the ’80s covering a UR soccer match (I forget who the Spiders were playing) – the game was played in a torrential downpour and the contest had to be stopped briefly due to lightning and high winds. The wind was blowing rainwater into the press booth (the windows wouldn’t shut) – and the only goal of the game came on a shot that the Richmond goalkeeper misplayed. The ball got past him and then slowly floated along on a huge “lake” of rainwater into the net while… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
18 days ago
Reply to  Peter James

Wow!

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
18 days ago

Richmond basically “gave” City Stadium to the Kickers. The land is far too valuable for its current use. The real estate taxes alone would have been substantial. The Kickers should have done a joint venture with VCU , but that’s ancient history now. The City of Richmond is simply not good at maximizing its development able properties.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
18 days ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

The Ukrops family is 100% better stewards of what they have been given than Dan Snyder was with the Commander’s facility. And I bet a lot of beer and food sales taxes are generated for the city as well.

Scott Brown
Scott Brown
18 days ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

https://www.uslsoccer.com/news_article/show/733700-richmond-council-approves-kickers-city-stadium-lease

The Kickers have a 40 year lease that started in Dec. 2016. They do pay property taxes on the land.
Prior to the Kickers lease the city leased it to U of R for $1 per year.

They are actually doing upgrades to a property they do not own.Not sure if that is a good idea, but they will be there for about another 30 years.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

Thanks for pointing out these details.

Dean Crouch
Dean Crouch
12 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

The city had a lease with UR for $1 per year, but UR paid to upgrade the lights, and replace the Astro Turf with real grass as part of our effort to bring the NCAA soccer Final Four to Richmond for four years. The event sold-out the first year, and the crowds were still strong during the last year. It was a much better look than the later efforts to put the Final Four in football stadiums where the crowd looked sparse compared to all the empty seats available. Both the Kickers and the Flying Squirrels put on good shows,… Read more »

George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
18 days ago

So the women are unpaid amateurs, but the Kickers sold 600 season ticket packages in addition to merchandise related to the women’s team.

Will/can these college players at least be provided tuition assistance, etc?

It appears a football can’t break a glass ceiling.

Scott Brown
Scott Brown
18 days ago

The W-Leauge is about the opportunity for these women. Some of them are getting a chance to be seen by pro scouts that may not have seen them playing in college or youth clubs.

With the USL starting a D1 league this fall, the NWSL continuing to expand, CONCACAF starting a women’s Champion’s Cup, and FIFA starting a women’s Club World Cup, if the glass ceiling is not broke, it has a very large crack in it.

Charles Frankenhoff
Charles Frankenhoff
18 days ago

I’m still annoyed the city gave the kickers this property for free. So many other uses.

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
18 days ago

True.

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
18 days ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

False… please see above.

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
18 days ago

You are mistaken.

https://www.uslsoccer.com/news_article/show/733700-richmond-council-approves-kickers-city-stadium-lease

The Kickers have a 40 year lease that started in Dec. 2016. They do pay property taxes on the land.
Prior to the Kickers lease the city leased it to U of R for $1 per year.
They are actually doing upgrades to a property they do not own.Not sure if that is a good idea, but they will be there for about another 30 years.

Michael Boyer
Michael Boyer
18 days ago

If they let me within the city limits,a soccer game would be absolutely the last place I’d care to be seen with you people.