Photos by Matt Finnigan, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.14
Future Legends Complex 801 Diamond Valley Dr
Windsor, CO 80550
Year Opened: 2023 Capacity: 2,500
A Better Future Awaits Northern Colorado Hailstorm F.C. at Future Legends Complex
This is a review of a facility that is an active work in progress. The Future Legends Complex in Windsor, CO, provides the home for Northern Colorado Hailstorm F.C. The Hailstorm plays in USL League One, the third tier of the American professional soccer pyramid.
Unfortunately, the Hailstorm also plays smack-dab in the middle of a construction site. The Future Legends Complex has endured the COVID-19 pandemic, construction delays, and legal entanglements, slowing the progress of what aims to become a massive sports complex a little more than an hour’s drive north of Denver.
Despite these hardships, the complex – and the stadium in which the Hailstorm will play – is moving toward completion. In addition to what will become TicketSocket Park, where the Hailstorm will play, the complex will have expansive sports facilities, retail, restaurants, and lodging, all with an eye toward hosting youth sports competitions.
Much of this remains in various phases of construction and all of it surrounds the Hailstorm’s current pitch in a temporary facility on what will be developed into TicketSocket Park. Once this happens, a review of a Hailstorm game should dramatically improve.
Entrance to Future Legends Complex, Photo by Matt Finnigan, Stadium Journey
Food & Beverage 3
Even in the facility’s inchoate state, there’s a decent variety of food and drink. The Hailstorm sells gourmet hot dogs at the stadium’s only dedicated concessions stand and each dog costs $9; a plain hot dog sells for $6. A couple of local food trucks, Panhandlers Pizza and Southern Twist Foods set up just outside the stadium and both are quite good.
At Panhandlers, a slice of cheese, pepperoni, or sausage deep-dish pizza costs $8 and a gluten-free personal pizza is $12. Southern Twist has a grilled cheese-based menu. An example: its Heat Wave is a grilled cheese sandwich with a ¼-pound burger and pulled pork, drizzled with buffalo sauce and topped with jalapeno peppers ($14). Southern Twist also sells twisted and loaded nachos and fries, ($7-$13); grilled cheese sandwiches with fried bologna, fried spam (yes, spam), and a hot dog (all $8); and traditional, plain grilled cheese sandwiches ($5).
There’s one dedicated bar at Future Legends, to the left of the stadium’s entrance once inside. It sells wine by the glass ($13), canned beer ($12 for domestic/import, $14 for premium/craft), cocktails ($10-$18), and hard seltzers ($10).
The atmosphere is difficult to assess because there isn’t any atmosphere – yet. Again, the Hailstorm plays in an active construction zone. Fans approach the stadium greeted by an electrical junction box, followed by a walk between cyclone fencing under which weeds have grown to reach the facility’s temporary ticket office.
The stadium and many of the other parts of the complex remain under construction, with partially built structures and heavy equipment providing an unsightly backdrop. Plywood separates fans from the neighboring construction areas and the team shop is in a tent. The public address system can be difficult to hear, as well.
There is some permanent seating along the stadium’s southwest corner, though it doesn’t offer great views of the action. Metal bleachers are also available on the west side of the pitch. Temporary metal bleachers behind the south goal provide the only other seating.
Arguably, the best location to watch a Hailstorm home match is from the standing-room, east sideline. Fans can sit or stand behind temporary barricades, within inches of the pitch’s sideline. This positions the crowd close to the action with the dramatic view of the mountains to the west. But the entire seating arrangement is disjointed. Hopefully, the completed version of the stadium will have a more traditional seating approach.
For many of the same reasons that the atmosphere suffers at a Hailstorm game, so does the neighborhood. Much of what should make a great experience has not yet been built. Once that construction is complete, the Hailstorm should play in the middle of a complex that teems with bars, restaurants, and shops.
No one will mistake a Hailstorm match for a Tottenham Hotspur or Newcastle United match. But there seems to be an enthusiastic response to the Hailstorm in Northern Colorado. The fans who attend are engaged and pay attention to the action on the pitch. Although the Hailstorm rated 10th out of 12 USL One teams in attendance (1,408 per game). Completion of the stadium and the surrounding complex should bring larger crowds, particularly as the league expands.
The only way to reach the Future Legends Complex is by car. It’s about seven miles west of Interstate 25, Colorado’s primary north-south interstate, and a half-hour from the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins. So the location isn’t central for many people.
There’s also no way to reach the complex via mass transit. Several roads appurtenant to the complex are rural routes that do not appear ideal for bicycling to a match. Additionally, there is not great signage directing fans where to park or even where the stadium is – another change that would improve the match day experience.
Once inside, there’s plenty of room to move around. Kids kick soccer balls without bothering anyone in the standing room area on the pitch’s east side. The concourse around the concession areas is sufficiently wide to permit fans to maneuver without issue.
Return on Investment 3
A Hailstorm game is a decent bargain. Tickets cost $15 for the standing-room section on the east side of the pitch. Tickets for the bleachers behind the south goal cost $23, while fans can also buy tickets for the corner bleachers ($28) or bleachers on the west sideline ($33). Parking is free while concession prices are in line with reasonable expectations.
The Northern Colorado Rain FC will bring professional women’s soccer to Centennial State and will begin competing at TicketSocket Park in 2024 in the USL W professional league. Props to ownership for developing soccer in northern Colorado.
This review should rightly be an “Incomplete.” Much about what should provide the essence of a Hailstorm match is still under construction. Until that construction is completed – especially TicketSocket Park – fans will feel like they need PPE to enjoy a match. However, team ownership (which includes several retired professional athletes) aims to build an ambitious complex that should significantly enhance the Hailstorm experience.