Posts Tagged ‘Community America Ballpark’


March 22, 2010


The off-season produced a number of news stories surrounding stadia in Major League soccer, most of which was welcome news.

Red Bull Arena

Red Bull Arena

The Main story is of course Red Bull Arena.  Before we dive into it though let us take a look back at a stadium that will NOT be missed.  Giants Stadium, though an amazing venue for soccer, was a disaster for Major League Soccer on almost every level.  The plastic pitch was horrible, the gridiron lines, the vast emptiness that made even a decent crowd look pathetic.  Just moving out of there would be a step up for the leagues most under-achieving and over hyped team.

Owners Red Bull, not only ponied up for a soccer specific stadium, but did so in style and have constructed what is, without question the best stadium of it’s kind in North America.  The 200 million dollar Arena’s debut match, Red Bull New York hosting Brazilian powerhouse Santos FC was held last night showed us just how wonderful it can be to play with an completely soccer atmosphere (not to mention have a New York team play an exciting brand of football). There are still issues such as serious traffic and parking concerns, not to mention the pitch that seems to have been planted on a bed of sand, but the venue is undoubtedly the new benchmark for Major League Soccer.

PPL Park in Chester PA

Let us not forget that there is another new venue coming into the league this year as fledgling Philadelphia Union will open another soccer specific stadium in nearby Chester PA.  PPL Park as it’s called after a Pennsylvania Energy Company which bought the naming rights and supplies the power to the 120 million dollar facility. The Union will play a few home matches at the NFL’s Lincoln Financial Field, which like Giants Stadium is a great venue for the sport, just not for the day-to-day machinations of the Union. The choice to play at ‘The Linc’ will be fun for the short time they are there, but all eyes are on Chester come the end of June.

The Kansas City Wizards finally broke ground on Wizards Stadium Complex at Village West this past January. The $165 million dollar project will open in 2011 and hold 18,500 Wizards fans.  Located near Kansas KC’s temporary home, Community America Ballpark and the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Epicenter?

Last week, the San Jose city council voted unanimously to rezone the property west of the San Jose Airport to allow for development of the new Earthquakes stadium.  This is seemingly the final hurdle in the Quakes plans for a new home.  Lew Wolff, the Quakes owner can now precede with what hope is a 2011 opening for the 15,000 seat stadium. The new site is walking distance from the Quakes temporary home of Buck Shaw Stadium and the teams front office, both of which are located on the Campus of Santa Clara University.  The Santa Clara transit center is also nearby which should make traffic easier.

In what can only be considered poetic irony for San Jose Earthquake fans, the Houston Dynamo, the former San Jose franchise that moved out of the bay area because they could not secure a stadium deal anywhere in the Bay Area, are still struggling to complete a stadium deal in downtown Houston and have consequently started entertaining offers outside of the city center.

Both Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, MLS expansion teams slotted to enter the league in the 2011 season made off-season stadium news.  Portland owner Merritt Paulson secured the governmental approval to construct a minor league baseball facility for his Portland Beavers team, clearing the way for the a renovation of PGE Park and allowing the Timbers to start their inaugural MLS campaign in a new 22,000 to 23,000 seat stadium more suited to soccer, though they will still be sharing the stadium with the Portland State football team.

Vancouver’s BC Place, which played host to the opening and closing ceremonies of the recent Vancouver Winter Olympics, will also be renovated for soccer and come complete with a retractable roof, not dissimilar to the one we saw built in Frankfurt for the World Cup in Germany.  The problem is that the renovation will not be completed in time for the Whitecaps 2011 season, which means the venerable Canadian team will open it’s inaugural campaign at a stadium called Empire Fields, to be built on the site of old Empire Stadium.  Construction of the temporary home will begin soon and is expected to be completed this summer.  The temporary facility will hold 27,500, 7400 of which are bench seats, and it will contain 12 hospitality suites.  Most of the seats will be covered. This all seems oddly permanent for a ‘temporary structure’ but even more unsettling is that the Vancouver team will have played in three different stadia in three years. The team is still hoping to secure a long-term deal that could see the Whitecaps playing in a downtown waterfront stadium.

Vancouver will share their stadium (both the temporary facility and BC Place) with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.  With Portland sharing PGE with a college football team and Seattle Sounders not likely to move out of Qwest stadium, which they share with the NFL Seahawks, we will likely be seeing gridiron lines in the Northwest for some time.

Speaking of Canadian Football League teams, there was some buzz in the Toronto area that the CFL Argonauts were trying to move into BMO Field, home of Toronto FC.  Though true, the likelihood of that deal happening has lost it’s momentum, which will make TFC fans happy.  Better news for the BMO faithful is that after years of fans complaints, a natural grass surface will be laid for the Reds 2010 season. No more plastic pitch north of the border.

Toronto FC has put a bid in to host the 2010 MLS Cup, which was thought to go to Red Bull Arena for sure, but there is a feeling that MLS might take a longer view and not jump into the leagues newest crown jewel until all the kinks and bugs have been worked out.  MLS may get it’s first north-of-the-border championship game in 2010.