As Major League’s soccer magnitude in the American sports landscape continues to expand, so will the stadiums that house the league’s teams.
Over the years, soccer-specific stadiums holding around 20,000 in capacity have been the target for many squads, and currently 14 of MLS’ 20 teams play in these conditions.
The New England Revolution and D.C. United, in the league since its inception, are two of the six remaining sides. United has recently established a soccer-specific arena over RFK Stadium, while New England is still working out a location.
One recently erected stadium that deserves recognition is the San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium, a $100 million park of 18,000 capacity located in the heart of Silicon Valley.
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Finished and open for the beginning of the 2015 season, the new ground held its first game—a preseason match against the LA Galaxy—on Feb. 25.
The first cloud-enabled MLS stadium has several features that make it unique to sports venues in America: a two-acre fan zone, a double-sided video scoreboard and its steeply constructed seating arrangement, which has suites and club seats located at field level.
[WATCH: Time-lapse construction video of Avaya Stadium]
“There’s not a bad seat in the stadium,” said Manager of Facility Operations and Sports Turf Managers Association member Raul Bueno.
The installation of about 882 solar panels helps produce power for any soccer games being played, and in the stadium’s north zone, the largest outdoor bar in North America contributes to the fan experience as well.
“I think this is going to be one of the best models for us going forward,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said, per MLSsoccer.com.
“They built it smart. … They’ve built it very efficiently, and that’s important. Not every stadium’s got to be several hundred million dollars. It’s actually good to have them built in a way where the economic model makes sense, and I think that’s what we have here.”
One of the future goals, Bueno said, is to expand the retail and hotel development surrounding the stadium, another method for enticing crowds, and for those hoping to catch the 2016 MLS All-Star game, Avaya Stadium will be the host.