Welcome to a brand new feature! Stadiums are something that fascinate football fans. We like looking at new ones, love reminiscing about old ones and we are always keen to hear about those little differences that make stadiums something special.
To kick off this new weekly feature we go to California and to a brand new stadium that is only a few weeks old. San Jose is home to the San Jose Earthquakes, one of the founding members of the MLS. The team have competed professionally in some capacity in the States since the old NASL days back in the in 1970s but have a troubled past in terms of the club ‘s involvement in the national leagues. The team started off life as the Earthquakes and played in the NASL between 1974 and the folding of the league in 1984. The Earthquakes then briefly played in the Western Soccer League but the owner sold the team in 1988 and the team itself was disbanded. A new side began and in 1989 the San Francisco Blackhawks entered the WLS but it was a troubled period that ended with another name change (the San Jose Hawks) and eventual closure of the club in 1993.
Less than a year later the MLS was in development and there was huge interest from San Jose and the owners at that time. Discussions between the board and the new MLS ended with San Jose being awarded a place in the new league (but they had to change their name once again, this time to San Jose Clash).
‘The Clash’ enjoyed early success in the MLS but then hit troubled waters yet again as the club’s infighting returned. After a temporary relocation to Houston in 2006 (yes Houston, Texas) the San Jose Earthquakes came back to the MLS in 2008 after a two-year break. This return also meant the planning of a new purpose-built stadium in San Jose. In 2008 official plans were launched and in February 2015 the new Avaya Stadium was opened.
The Avaya Stadium
On October 21 2012 a world record beating 6,256 people turned up to break ground on the new Earthquakes Stadium. After two and a half years and $100 million in building costs the city is now home to one of the most technologically advanced sporting arenas anywhere in the world. With a capacity of 18,000 the Avaya Stadium is not the biggest of football grounds but in terms of supporting the club and the fans it certainly fits the bill.
The stadium is the first entirely ‘cloud enabled’ sports stadium in the world and through the stadium’s own app fans have the opportunity to interact with one another and the crowd during each match. The stadium has been designed to keep in sound generated from the crowd although there is an open air end of the stadium which is like that for a reason…..it holds America’s largest outdoor bar! At over 3,000 square feet and with over 45 beer taps the bar is a unique vantage point open to all fans at all times during the matches.
The actual structure of the stadium is designed to give supporters the closest view of any MLS team and the stand is single tiered all the way round the ground. The fans also have a two acre ‘FanZone’ to ensure that everyone is looked after on match days. With a fan ‘dedication wall’ and another bar called ‘World of Beers’ it is safe to say that Avaya Stadium is catered for fans and looks set to become a well-loved home for the San Jose Earthquakes for years to come.
The Quakes won their first competitive match in their new home, beating Chicago Fire 2-1.