Tuesday, 23 Apr 2024

A Guide to Major League Soccer Stadiums and Fan Support

After visiting CITYPark for a recent match, I felt compelled to provide a comprehensive ranking of Major League Soccer (MLS) stadiums and fan support. As a football enthusiast with years of experience, I aim to offer an unbiased perspective on these venues. Let’s dive in and explore the top-tier stadiums and passionate supporters that make MLS an exciting league to follow.

Tier 1: Elite

CITYPark-St Louis (2023)

CITYPark-St Louis

CITYPark in St. Louis stands out as the epitome of an elite stadium. With its ideal capacity, prime location, and impressive supporter groups, it scores high on all fronts. The lower bowl’s dedication to standing throughout the match, except for VIP sections, creates an electrifying atmosphere. The fans’ commitment to the team is evident, and their chants, though not the most creative, engage the crowd easily. CITYPark’s well-designed concourses ensure smooth traffic flow. St. Louis deserved an MLS team long before this season.

Q2 Stadium-Austin (2022)

Q2 Stadium-Austin

Q2 Stadium in Austin shines with its remarkable stadium design and passionate supporter groups. Despite its slightly less central location, the stadium’s accessibility via a nearby train and proximity to breweries contribute to its appeal. The large bathrooms and impressive supporter turnout enhance the overall experience. Austin’s love for the team is evident as every MLS match has been sold out. The city’s commitment to supporting soccer makes Q2 Stadium a remarkable venue.

TQL Stadium-Cincinnati (2021)

TQL Stadium-Cincinnati

TQL Stadium in Cincinnati stands as a gem among the league’s newest stadiums. This stadium’s presence has transformed Cincinnati’s west end, revitalizing the area with its vibrant cultural scene. While the stadium itself is beautiful, it falls slightly short in terms of restroom capacity. Nonetheless, TQL Stadium’s remarkable transformation showcases the city’s dedication to soccer and its potential to become a top-tier venue.

Providence Park-Portland (2022)

Providence Park-Portland

Providence Park in Portland offers a unique atmosphere reminiscent of Fenway or Wrigley Field. As an old ballpark converted into a soccer stadium, it exudes character. Located in central Portland, the stadium is surrounded by bars and easily accessible via light rail. While the turf pitch detracts slightly from its appeal, the Timbers Army and other supporter groups create a passionate atmosphere. Providence Park is a testament to Portland’s thriving soccer culture.

BMO Stadium-Los Angeles FC (2023)

BMO Stadium-LAFC

BMO Stadium, home to Los Angeles FC, impresses with its unified supporter group, the 3252. Spread across standing places and representing ten different supporter groups, their collaboration generates an incredible level of support in the north end. The stadium’s location near the USC campus could benefit from additional nearby restaurants and bars. Despite some gray, empty seats outside the north end, BMO Stadium remains a formidable venue.

Allianz Field-Minnesota (2022)

Allianz Field-Minnesota

Allianz Field in Minnesota stands as a testament to resilience in cold weather conditions. Unlike other stadiums designed to allow airflow, Allianz Field retains heat, creating a more comfortable atmosphere for midseason matches. Although the Wonderwall supporters have seen better days, they remain dedicated. The stadium’s location near St. Paul offers excellent access to Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the nearby Black Hart serves as an acclaimed queer soccer bar.

Mercedes Benz Stadium-Atlanta (2019)

Mercedes Benz Stadium-Atlanta

Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta impresses when Atlanta United is in top form. This indoor venue provides an affordable option for Atlanta residents to enjoy matches. The stadium boasts incredible sightlines and an impressive scoreboard. Despite some supporter turmoil, Atlanta United successfully incorporates Black voices and leadership into their supporter groups. The stadium’s centrality and tailgating options further contribute to its appeal.

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Tier 2: Impressive Venues

Lower.com Field-Columbus (2022)

Lower.com Field-Columbus

Lower.com Field in Columbus is notable for its location and active supporter groups. As the first team to play in two soccer-specific stadiums, the Columbus Crew have made significant improvements with this new venue. The Nordecke, one of the league’s loudest and largest supporter groups, contributes to the team’s growing non-supporter attendance. With the addition of mustard packets, Lower.com Field sets itself up as a solid stadium for years to come.

GEODIS Park-Nashville

GEODIS Park-Nashville

GEODIS Park in Nashville boasts an impressive stadium itself but falls short in terms of location and atmosphere. Situated away from the urban center, the stadium’s size overshadows the atmosphere it generates. The Backline, a prominent supporter group, manages to fill a large section, but the seats often conceal the emptiness in other areas. Overall, GEODIS Park is a decent stadium that could benefit from a more centralized location.

Lumen Field-Seattle (2022)

Lumen Field-Seattle

Lumen Field in Seattle offers a vibrant gameday setting. While the Sounders draw consistently well, the stadium fails to create an atmosphere that matches the team’s popularity. Despite the stadium’s distance from the turf, its food options remain top-notch. Its downtown and International District location make it easily accessible. With solid supporter groups like ECS, Lumen Field has the potential for greatness if it had a soccer-specific stadium.

BMO Field-Toronto (2014/2023 for CFL)

BMO Field-Toronto

BMO Field in Toronto thrives in a city known for its love of soccer. The stadium’s location offers convenient walking and rail access to the city center. While the addition of a second deck impacted the skyline view, the south end’s Toronto supporter groups maintain a strong presence. Despite the stadium being slightly removed from the urban core, Toronto’s consistent attendance demonstrates their passion for the team. With the upcoming 2026 World Cup expansion, BMO Field’s future capacity remains a question.

Children’s Mercy Park-Kansas City (2021)

Children's Mercy Park-Kansas City

Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City impresses with its stadium quality, although it falls short in terms of location. Sharing a parking lot with a Nebraska Furniture Mart, the stadium compensates with a lively tailgate scene. Despite its distance from the Kansas City urban core, fans consistently fill the stadium. The Cauldron supporter group showcases their dedication, while the stadium’s single-deck design ensures an excellent view from any seat.

Bank of America Stadium-Charlotte (2022)

Bank of America Stadium-Charlotte

Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte offers promising potential due to the city’s growing support. Though the stadium lacks certain amenities, such as a desirable turf pitch and close-by businesses, it successfully attracts fans. Charlotte’s enthusiastic supporters generate a vibrant atmosphere, contributing to the team’s soaring popularity. With plans for a new stadium, Charlotte has the opportunity to establish itself as an elite-tier venue in the future.

Exploria Stadium-Orlando (2017)

Exploria Stadium-Orlando

Exploria Stadium in Orlando boasts historical significance as the first stadium with a safe-standing section in the league. Despite its prime location in car-centric Orlando, the stadium has struggled to maintain the initial high levels of support. The decline may be attributed to the challenging Central Florida summers. Nonetheless, Exploria Stadium remains an appealing venue with tremendous potential for revitalization.

PayPal Park-San Jose (2015)

PayPal Park-San Jose

PayPal Park in San Jose is an outstanding venue known for its unique features, including suites on the pitch level. Though the stadium design is commendable, it falls short in terms of supporter culture. San Jose faces challenges in filling seats and engaging local fans. The stadium’s airport proximity and central location could offer advantages, but further efforts are needed to build widespread support.

Tier 3: Acceptable Venues

America First Field-Salt Lake (2022)

America First Field-Salt Lake

America First Field in Salt Lake showcases a suburban stadium location with easy train access to downtown. The stadium offers scenic mountain views and has seen improvements in non-supporter attendance. However, the supporter culture remains relatively weak, which prevents the stadium from reaching higher tiers of excellence.

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Audi Field-DC (2022)

Audi Field-DC

Audi Field in Washington, D.C., provides an adequate stadium experience in a prime location. However, the stadium’s construction limitations prevent it from achieving its full potential. The atmosphere often falls short, lacking the enthusiasm expected for an MLS match. With better results and stronger team traditions, DC United has the opportunity to cultivate a more vibrant supporter culture.

Subaru Park-Philadelphia

Subaru Park-Philadelphia

Subaru Park in Philadelphia offers solid features, but its location outside the city restricts its growth potential. Despite this setback, the stadium benefits from a supportive fan base, with the Union gaining recognition as a major sport in the city. Enhancing the stadium’s accessibility and relocating it to the urban core could propel Philadelphia’s status to elite-tier.

Stade Saputo-Montreal (2022)

Stade Saputo-Montreal

Stade Saputo in Montreal serves as a home for soccer in the city, despite certain shortcomings. The stadium’s bleachers provide a better experience than many high school football stadiums, but it fails to match Montreal’s expected quality. The location, accessible by the metro, offers convenience, but the lack of nearby businesses diminishes the overall urban experience. Montreal’s supporter groups, despite a recent ban impacting their attendance, continue to display solid support and contribute positively to the community.

DRV PNK Stadium-Inter Miami (2023)

DRV PNK Stadium-Inter Miami

DRV PNK Stadium, currently the home of Inter Miami, struggles to meet expectations due to its below-average features. While temporary seating arrangements have boosted ticket sales, the stadium lacks the luxuries fans expect. However, the planned construction of a new stadium in Miami offers hope for an improved overall experience. With continued momentum and sustained support, Inter Miami has the potential to establish itself as an elite-tier venue.

Dignity Health Sports Park-LA Galaxy (2015)

Dignity Health Sports Park-LA Galaxy

Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles faces challenges due to its history and current state. Despite possessing five MLS Cup titles and fiercely dedicated supporters, the Galaxy’s attendance and overall atmosphere have dipped in recent seasons. This issue contrasts with the team’s successful past and the stadium’s decent longevity. As sanctions lift and the team regains its stride, the Galaxy has the potential to reclaim its higher position on this list.

BC Place-Vancouver (2021)

BC Place-Vancouver

BC Place in Vancouver suffers from a lack of atmosphere, resulting in a library-like experience. Despite its central location and excellent food options, the stadium struggles to generate the energy expected from a soccer venue. The Whitecaps’ inability to consistently fill seats in the lower deck further dampens the overall ambiance. Engaging more fans in British Columbia is crucial for the Whitecaps to reach their full potential.

Red Bull Arena-New York/New Jersey (2011)

Red Bull Arena-New York/New Jersey

Red Bull Arena stands as the premier soccer stadium in the New York City area. Its commendable design and proximity to a PATH train make it an attractive option. However, challenges such as inadequate parking and disappointing attendance hamper the stadium’s potential. Despite dedicated supporter groups, the overall atmosphere falls short of creating an exceptional experience.

BBVA Compass Stadium-Houston (2021)

BBVA Compass Stadium-Houston

BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston struggles to meet expectations due to poor attendance and a toxic supporter culture. Despite its advantageous location and appealing stadium design, the stadium fails to attract significant fan support. Addressing these issues, along with improving the stadium’s roof, is paramount for BBVA Compass Stadium to thrive.

Toyota Stadium-Dallas (2021)

Toyota Stadium-Dallas

Toyota Stadium in Dallas faces challenges due to its lack of shade and remote location. However, FC Dallas has made significant strides in recent years, increasing both supporter and non-supporter attendance. Relocating the beer garden and emphasizing urban accessibility have helped improve the overall fan experience. While Frisco’s distance from downtown Dallas poses an inconvenience, FC Dallas’ marketing efforts and top youth academy contribute to its growing success.

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Tier 4: Need a New Option

Yankee Stadium/Citi Field-New York City

Yankee Stadium/Citi Field-New York City

Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, currently home to New York City FC, fall short due to their baseball stadium limitations. While plans for a new stadium in Willets Points offer hope, both current venues fail to capture the essence of soccer. The narrow pitches and inadequate surfaces detract from the overall experience. As the team continues to attract global talent, a proper football-specific venue is essential for NYCFC’s growth and development.

Gillette Stadium-New England (2010)

Gillette Stadium-New England

Gillette Stadium in New England suffers due to its suburban location and lack of accessibility. Despite its connection to the successful New England Revolution, the stadium’s drawbacks prevent it from reaching its full potential. Moving the stadium to a more urban and accessible location would significantly improve the overall supporter culture and create a more desirable matchday experience.

Soldier Field-Chicago (2023)

Soldier Field-Chicago

Soldier Field in Chicago faces challenges due to its location and atmosphere. Although situated in an intriguing area, the stadium’s distant location and limited nearby amenities hinder the overall gameday experience. The Chicago Fire’s lack of visibility within the city, coupled with the divide between English and Spanish-speaking fans, impacts the supporter culture. A more central, soccer-specific stadium is necessary to reinvigorate the team and create a more vibrant atmosphere.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park-Colorado (2022)

Dick's Sporting Goods Park-Colorado

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado falls short due to its unremarkable features and remote location. While the stadium is beautifully situated in a scenic area, it fails to generate an electric atmosphere. Efforts to develop the surrounding land and improve the matchday experience could elevate this stadium’s status. Colorado’s soccer community deserves a more engaging venue that adequately represents their passion for the sport.

As MLS continues to grow and evolve, stadiums and fan support play a vital role in shaping the league’s identity. While some venues stand out as elite, others require improvements or new options altogether. Through ongoing investments and community engagement, MLS has the potential to showcase world-class stadiums and passionate supporters that rival the best in global football.

FAQs

Which MLS stadium has the largest capacity?

The largest capacity in MLS belongs to Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which can hold over 71,000 spectators.

Which MLS stadium has the best atmosphere?

Providence Park in Portland is renowned for its incredible atmosphere, thanks to the passionate support of the Timbers Army and other dedicated fan groups.

Are there any plans for new stadiums in the MLS?

Several MLS teams have plans for new stadiums, including Inter Miami, New England Revolution, and New York City FC. These new venues aim to enhance the overall matchday experience and engage fans on a deeper level.

Where can I find more information about MLS stadiums?

For more information about MLS stadiums and to stay up to date with the latest news and statistics, visit Pesstatsdatabase, a comprehensive online resource for all things MLS.

Conclusion

MLS stadiums and fan support continue to evolve, creating an exciting landscape for football enthusiasts. From elite-tier venues with passionate supporters to those in need of revitalization or new options, each stadium contributes to the league’s unique character. As cities invest in soccer-specific stadiums and fan culture flourishes, MLS has the potential to become a global standard for top-tier football experiences.