Professional soccer will be a part of the Wauwatosa sports community in 2017 when the Milwaukee Torrent make their move to Hart Park.
Due in part to youth leagues, the popularity of soccer has grown steadily in Tosa over the last two to three decades. The increase of the profile of the sport, plus the quality of the facilities at Hart Park and the passion of young fans causes Torrent owner Andy Davi to see a perfect match between Tosa and the team.
“I see Torrent games becoming a huge event in the area,” Davi said. “We will be practicing on the same field where our matches will be held, and this is important for our players.”
The Torrent play in the National Professional Soccer League, a fourth level league that has over 80 teams throughout the United States. The team will be a part of the Midwest region — one of four regions in the league — and play in the Central division. The number of teams in the division and the region is still up in the air, but will be settled on by the time the Torrent take the field in April.
The soccer club has only existed for one season and played their 2016 home games at Uilhein Park on Milwaukee’s Northside. The team posted an overall 11-1-2 record including 6-0 in the Central Division.
In the 2017 season the Torrent will play 7 regular season home games at Hart Park. That number could grow to as many as12 home games if the Torrent gain home field advantage in the regular season and advance to the title game. The opener will be April 29th against Whitewater.
The City and the Wauwatosa Parks and Forestry Board (Hart Park operators) worked with Davi over the summer to bring the team to Hart Park and all parties involved see the move as a positive and productive scenario.
“In the last 15 years, Wauwatosa has invested in the transformation of Hart Park,” Mayor Kathy Ehley said. “We’re proud of the caliber of our facilities and excited that Milwaukee’s only professional outdoor soccer team, the Milwaukee Torrent, will call Hart Park home. This latest addition to our park reinforces our commitment to a healthy lifestyle and will encourage adults and children to be active and have fun.”
Hart Park has a capacity of 4,625 and currently hosts events including Marquette University High School and Wauwatosa East football games, Marquette University lacrosse games as well as events from other Milwaukee area teams and organizations. The 35-acre park along the Menomonee River also is home to a nature park and hiking trails, a picnic area, skatepark, playground and an indoor public ice rink.
At the final home game last year the Torrent had about 1,000 people in attendance. Davi said that he is hoping for at least that many watching his team play for every home game.
“This [move to Hart Park] was a business decision,” Davi said. “It is much easier to reach, closer to downtown, there are bars and restaurants and shops for fans.”
Season tickets are available, and include a special offer that runs through January where adults can get all seven home games for $50.00, and $25.00 for kids. The individual game tickets prices will be $10.00 for adults and $4.00 for kids.
Hart Park will not require much to make the field available for the Torrent as the facility is already stocked with plenty of parking and the field will only need a different set of lines. The concession stands will be run and operated by the Parks and Forestry board. Game operations are conducted by the Torrent and the staff that aided the team in 2016 will continue their work as the team moves to Hart Park.
One of the most positive aspects the Torrent will provide the community is the Annual Youth Summer Soccer Camp put on by the team. The camp features the expertise of Davi, along with that of coaches from German club Bayer Leverkusen, all of whom donate their time to teach the fundamentals of the sport to eager students.
Davi has run soccer camps for seven years and plans to work with other entities in the city to ensure that soccer popularity continues to grow. This past summer Davi and his camp offered scholarships, working with the Boys and Girls Club so disadvantaged youth could attend and reap the benefits of working with professional coaches from the Torrent and some of the top clubs from Europe.
In all, the move to Wauwatosa is benefiting both the community and the Torrent. Growing the emerging partnership between the team, the city and its residents is one of the primary focuses of Davi.
“We are at a place now where potential sponsors, companies are coming to me and asking what can we do to get on your jerseys,” Davi said. “We are getting great support from the business community. We needed a home, not just a facility we rent. I see this becoming our home for years. To have a good home you need to have neighbors that you work with and have a mutual relationship with.”