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MLS Still Primary Revenue Source For Soccer-Specific Stadiums

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In light of the recent news that Philadelphia’s own, PPL Park, will be hosting Villanova Football beginning in the Fall of 2011, Brotherly Game takes a look at the other soccer-specific stadiums throughout Major League Soccer and the non-soccer events to which they have been hosts.

Before the end of the 2011 regular season, there will be twelve soccer-specific facilities in Major League Soccer, providing homes to thirteen teams as the Galaxy and Chivas currently split time at the Home Depot Center. New England Revolution, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Houston Dynamo and D.C. United do not have place to call their own. While both Houston and San Jose share facilities with neighboring the University of Houston and Santa Clara University, respectively, New England, Seattle and D.C. are making use of existing National Football League stadiums. In case of the Sounders, the club is able to fill 36,000 seats with supporters - an oddity among Major League Soccer teams.

However, most venues across the major sports in the United States play host to not only their local MLS team, which it was intended but much more. Many stadiums are capable of creating unique atmospheres for concerts, extreme sports, ceremonies and other events. Many stadiums in other professional sports even act as a host to second professional sports team. For example, the Wells Fargo Center is not only the home of the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) but also the Sixers (NBA).

PPL Park hosted the 2011 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship in June and will host the 2012 championship, as well. As a part of the rugby championship, Dropkick Murphy’s became the first band to perform at PPL Park. Villanova Football begins play at PPL Park on November 19th versus the University of Delaware.

Red Bull Arena has hosted just two non-soccer events in its brief fifteenth month history. More than a week ago, the arena was the stage for a Dispatch concert. In June 2010, Red Bull Arena held the finals of the 2010 Churchill Cup for rugby.

Crew Stadium hosted the 2002 Major League Lacrosse championship, Ohio High School Football State Championship, in addition to a number of high school football games. Like PPL Park, Crew Stadium hosted the inaugural USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship in 2002. The venue is host to several concerts throughout the year.

LIVESTRONG Sporting Park opened on recently on June 9th and has since been host to only soccer matches thus far. Major League Soccer’s newest stadium has set the stage for the last three Sporting Kansas City matches, as well as two CONCACAF Gold Cup matches.

Toyota Park has hosted several concerts due to the stadium’s built-in stage. In 2006 and 2009, the venue held multiple international rugby matches

BMO Field has hosted just one concert since its opening in 2007. Toronto’s Major League Lacrosse team played its home games at the stadium during the 2009 season, before moving elsewhere.

Home Depot Center is among the few complexes to which Major League Soccer has regular access to. Besides the main stadium, which both Chivas and LA Galaxy play, the Home Depot Center also has an 8,000 seat tennis stadium and 20,000 seat track and field stadium. The main stadium has been host to the X Games, IRB Sevens World Series (rugby), high school football championship games, Major League Lacrosse and a Spike TV reality show.

The home of FC Dallas, Pizza Hut Park, has been host to several concerts since 2008. The stadium is also the official host of the NCAA Division 1 Football Championship (D1-AA) through 2012.

Besides soccer, Rio Tinto Stadium, has only been host to concerts. In 2009, The Eagles performed the first ever concert at the stadium as 2010 provided opportunities for several other artists.

Dick’s Sporting Good Park was host to concerts, rugby matches and collegiate lacrosse championships throughout its brief four year history. Besides holding more than 40,000 people for a music festival, the Colorado Rapids home also welcomed the 2009 Churchill Cup (rugby) as well as the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse National Championships from 2009 through 2011.

While JELD-WEN Field is one of Major League Soccer’s newest stadiums, its introduction is following an extensive renovation to modern the facility. The original stadium was constructed in 1926 making it the old stadium in the league. Throughout its vast history, the venue has seen many notable non-soccer events. Elvis performed at Jeld-Wen in 1957 during his tour. The stadium was also previously home to minor league baseball teams as well as collegiate football.

Empire Field and BC Place are home to both Major League Soccer's Whitecaps FC as well as the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. Upon completion of renovations, BC Place will continue to be a venue in downtown Vancouver for all major events. Previously, BC Place has been host to Olympic Winter Games, NFL games and Australian rules football. Several concerts have been performed there including Michael Jackson and Madonna.

As Vancouver’s curent Empire Field was constructed for temporary use and the recent openings of Portland’s JELD-WEN Field and Kansas City’s LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, there has been a limited amount of time for other events due to the demands of the 2011 Major League Soccer regular season.

Soccer specific stadiums throughout Major League Soccer play a similar role in sports and entertainment in the United States as do similar stadiums around the world. Few sports stadia exist to host soccer matches alone. The additional revenue and income provided to the owners, clubs and communities in which a team resides is often difficult to pass up, particularly for events taking place during the off-season of the venue’s designated team.

Many venues, however, have begin to separate themselves into entirely separate business ventures, as opportunities for various business and entertainment potential increases – many times both going hand in hand. Though not soccer-specific, Gillette Stadium has set a standard for what is to come, as the Krafts have turned a sports venue into a commercial and entertainment complex, a path that many professional sports cities hope to follow.

Below is a complete list of stadiums throughout Major League Soccer:

Chicago Fire Toyota Park
Chivas USAHome Depot Center
Colorado Rapids
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Columbus Crew
Crew Stadium
*D.C. United RFK Stadium
F.C. Dallas Pizza Hut Park
*Houston Dynamo
Robertson Stadium; Dynamo Stadium 2012
Los Angeles Galaxy Home Depot Center
Philadelphia Union
PPL Park
*New England RevolutionGillette Stadium
New York Red BullsRed Bull Arena
Real Salt Lake Rio Tinto Stadium
Portland Timbers JELD-WEN Field
*San Jose EarthquakesBuck Shaw Stadium
*Seattle Sounders F.C.
CenturyLink Field (formerly Qwest Field)
Sports Kansas CityLIVESTRONG Sporting Park
Toronto F.C.BMO Field
Vancouver Whitecaps F.C. Empire Field; BC Place in Summer 2011

*not soccer specific