Soccer Stadium Update: 2010 Summary

Time for our last stadium update of 2010.  It has been an exiting year for the development of soccer specific stadiums in this country.  Perhaps the signature stadium moment for 2010 was the opening of Red Bull Arena.  The new structure met and exeeded expectations in almost every way and has become the showpiece edifice of Major League Soccer.  From the gorgeous sitelines to the first in industry smart cards, Red Bull Arena hit every high note.  Crowds increased markedly over the team’s last few years at Giants Stadium and the team earned a significant revenue burst as it controlled concessions and other stadium sales for the first time.

If Red Bull Arena was story number one, not far behind was the quick progress towards a new stadium for the team formerly known as the Kansas City Wizards.  On January 20 we wrote that “A final agreement has been reached on the Wizards’ plan to build a new stadium as part of a $414 million dollar development in Wyandotte County.  The deal will be paid for in part by $ 85 million in state money and more than $144 million in STAR bonds.  In addition to the stadium, the project will include a new office complex, youth fields.  Based on a vote of the County government, construction is set to start as early as today.”  Now, less than a year after that post, construction is moving forward towards a June opening date.  The team has aggressively involved fans in the process, by allowing them to sign a beam as  a keep sake, take early tours of the site and more.  The opening of the new stadium will be a hallmark day for that franchise.

Not to be forgotten was the opening of PPL Park in Philly.  After a brief delay at the start of the season (where the team played at the Linc), the Union opened their own home in Chester, PA.  The stadium provides great riverfront vistas, wonderful site lines and great atmosphere.  Despite its location outside of Philly, it is convenient to public transportation and is probably the top end “second level” stadium in the league.

The expansion twins in Vancouver have also made progress towards the opening of their new stadiums.  In Portland, PGE Park hs been undergoing its two phase renovation as the former home of minor league baseball becomes the new home of the Timbers.  In Vancouver, renovations continue at BC Place, with an expected Summer of 2011 re-opening.  Until then, the Whitecaps will play their games at Empire Field, a 20k seat venue.  There has also been stadium movement in Houston and San Jose, a lack of movement in DC and New England. Slowly MLS is becoming aleague replete with great venues in which fans and owners can take great pride.