Since the club’s inception last season, Bugeaters FC has been looking for a stadium to call home in Lincoln.
Last season, the club split time between Beechner Athletic Complex in Lincoln and multiple venues in the Omaha and Bellevue area while Abbott Sports Complex was being readied as the club’s permanent on home. On Monday, the club announced it had found its new home at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium in downtown Omaha.
“I know that many are disappointed, as are we, but the decision was not as much of a decision as a last resort,” club owner Jonathan Collura said via email.
“Lincoln Public Schools and Lincoln High helped us out with the 2018 season by being flexible and allowing us to play most of the matches in Lincoln. We thank them for helping us out.”
Collura continued to say that it had been a challenge for the club to find a permanent home in Lincoln over the past eight months and that the lack of a home field hurt the club’s ability to find a league to call home as well. The lack of a league has led Bugeaters FC to schedule a full exhibition schedule in 2019, which has led to some debate among ownership about the future.
“When it was all said and done, we decided to keep going despite some of the disappointment we knew we would face,” Collura continued. “We didn’t sell season tickets and new kits and then flip flop to a new venue.”
Fan support has remained fairly positive for the club, especially among the team’s biggest supporter group, the Field Hands. The group, which had been in contact with Collura throughout the process of finding a stadium, has already reached out to several other groups of soccer supporters in the Omaha area,l and it looks as though the Field Hands will follow their club to the new venue.
“We love the fans that we have and are disappointed that some are let down,” Collura said. “But I have a team that I have committed a season to and I didn’t want to let them down as well.”
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Outside of the search for the stadium and new league, the offseason has been kind to the Bugeaters.
The club has finalized a partnership with a Championship-level club in England, which will be announced soon, and the team has scheduled matches with several teams, including Little Rock Rangers and Chattanooga FC for within the next month.
Both clubs are pillars of the semiprofessional soccer field in the United States and will allow the Bugeaters to expand their product to new states.
“We are excited to be playing (Little Rock and Chattanooga),” Collura said of the upcoming schedule. “It shows me that we’re doing something well.”
As far as Lincoln soccer goes, this is another blow to the scene after semiprofessional clubs, Lincoln Soccer Club and Lincoln United, both folded after one season in 2017. Bugeaters FC seemed to succeed where these clubs failed, however, and began building up quite a following in the Capital City. But since Lincoln didn't have a field, the Morrison news was big for the future of the young club.
“We are excited to be playing at one of the best venues in the nation in Morrison Stadium,” Collura concluded. “Creighton welcomed us and we are looking forward to the 2019 season there.”
Soccer fans in Lincoln will be rewarded if they make the trip up to Omaha this summer to see their native club. Morrison Stadium is fully stocked with beer taps.