New turf and coach brings enthusiasm to Asheville City SC


Photo by Israel Garcia-Perez: Memorial Stadium, home to Asheville City SC, features a new turf field in time for the start of the upcoming summer season.

Israel Garcia-Perez, [email protected], Sports writer

With a newly-renovated home field at Asheville’s Memorial Stadium and an incoming first-year head coach, Asheville City SC looks to connect with community members and generate greater excitement for the professional men’s soccer team come the start of the 2022 season this summer. 

After undergoing a series of renovations, Memorial Stadium now houses a new turf field, and with Scott Wells, first-year Asheville City SC men’s head coach, under the helm, club officials and players said the program and fanbase highly anticipate the season with newfound energy.

“The new turf is making people in the city buzz, and not just for the Asheville City fans awaiting for the season, but for all users of the stadium as well,” said Wells, who previously served as head men’s soccer coach at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

According to Wells, the last time Memorial Stadium received new artificial turf was in 2000. The new turf coincides with the arrival of Wells, who replaces former head coach Mick Giordano, now the head men’s soccer coach at UNC Asheville. 

“Being able to coach at this level is something I’ve always wanted to do and there’s no better city to start my career than here in Asheville. It was a very appealing opportunity,” Wells said.

It will be Wells’ first time coaching outside of the collegiate level. He will lead the club in it’s fifth season in USL League Two, which competes with different clubs throughout the country.

“What I’m looking forward to the most this summer is feeling that connection with the fans and Asheville itself. The club has made it a smooth transition for my family and I’m adjusting to the city very well,” Wells said. 

According to club officials, getting the old turf at the stadium replaced was a priority for the upcoming season. 

“For it to be my first year in Asheville and to get a new stadium to play in is pretty lucky,” Wells said. “In a way, I’m like the fans who haven’t experienced the new turf either.”

Asheville City SC players said returning home to Memorial Stadium brings a feeling of a homecoming after playing home games at UNC Asheville last season.

“I grew up in Asheville, so being able to play on the new turf this summer on the team will be a great experience, especially in front of a packed out stadium,” said Izaiah Vignali, a player for Asheville City SC. 

According to Vignali, after playing last season at UNCA instead of the usual Memorial Stadium, the team hopes the fanbase will show out at games with even more excitement now that the team plans to return to its home stadium. 

“The fanbase of the club keeps becoming bigger and bigger, as well as the city of Asheville. The atmosphere at the games this season will be an experience like no other and I’m glad I’ll be able to be part of it,” Vignali said.

According to Wells, the fanbase for the club set national attendance records in 2019 when a WPSL soccer game broke attendance with 1,847 fans at the game.

“I have been a fan of the club since it first started back in 2016. The city of Asheville was in need of a team like this and I’m glad we’ll be able to be back at the Memorial (Stadium),” said Sarah Whitaker, a fan of Asheville City SC. 

Fans of the club said the renovations made to the stadium make it an even more attractive venue.

“There was a point where no one would go play soccer anymore at the stadium because the turf was so bad. Players picked up different injuries playing at Memorial Stadium,” Vignali said. 

The stadium renovation not only benefits Asheville City SC, but community members as well, who can use the field when not booked for events or team events. With the new turf, Memorial Stadium will provide members of the community a higher-quality facility to use for recreation. 

“Going to the field in the morning before work or at night, I could go at any time really. I’m sure people at the Retreat at Hunt Hill apartments where I also live feel the same way I do about the convenience of having Memorial Stadium in our backyard,” said Massi Tager, user of Memorial Stadium. 

According to Tager, the improvements made at Memorial Stadium give it a brand new look that was needed a long time ago and will revamp team enthusiasm for Asheville City SC. 

“I’m counting down the days until the first game kicks off in May and thousands of fans are together cheering on the blues,” Whitaker said.