KC rebrand, new stadium shows future of Earthquakes

Kaval weighs in on the success of Sporting KC model & similarities with the Quakes

The Earthquakes will get a sense of their future when they face Eastern Conference power Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at Sporting Park. 

The teams, who share community-friendly approaches and modestly priced rosters, will soon have comparable home bases. The Quakes’ new 18,000-seat home stadium in San Jose is set for a 2015 rollout – about four years after Sporting Park’s game-changing debut in America’s heartland. 

“We definitely see the success that Sporting KC has had in really rebooting their franchise," Quakes president Dave Kaval says. "Everything from the brandingto the new stadium, to their success on the pitch as a model ... especially because they’re not going out there and getting three DPs (designated players) at $5 million each.

“They’re finding ways to win with a system. They’re finding ways to create a connection between the community and their team that’s real and authentic, and they’re doing it in the middle of America, a place that you wouldn’t necessarily think that would be embracing soccer in that way.” 

The Quakes have a followed a strikingly similar narrative in soccer-fertile Northern California, as evidenced by the  successful, sold-out matches at Stanford Stadium. The Quakes’ brand figures to grow exponentially when San Jose hosts the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 2 at Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers’ new home. 

Sporting Park, with a soccer capacity of 18,467 (25,000 for concerts), has instilled a sense of permanence and promise to the sport in its region. Moreover, Sporting's success on the field, including winning the 2013 MLS Cup championship, speaks for itself. 

The Quakes, whose storied history dates back to 1974, look to make their own run to an MLS Cup with a rebranded look and a relentless playing style. The Quakes’ new stadium, which is rapidly emerging on Coleman Avenue, will be a high-tech marvel and will link the world’s game with the future of the world’s finest technology. 

On the field, the Quakes’ “Goonies” persona has already been rebooted in 2014. In the first two games this season, a 1-1 draw with Mexico’s Toluca in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, and a 3-3 draw with RealSaltLake in San Jose’s MLS opener, both at Buck Shaw Stadium, the Quakes have scored the equalizer in stoppage time. Alan Gordon struck against Toluca, and center back Victor Bernardez was the hero against Real Salt Lake with his second goal of the match.

Thus, the team’s look, playing style, marketing approach, and future prospects all appear to in harmony. 

“I’ve never felt as much of a buzz in the community about the Earthquakes as I do right now,” Kaval says. “I think we’re at a high-water mark, but it’s just going up. The high-water mark is rising every month, in terms of people knowing who we are, knowing that we’re building a stadium, interested in the competitions that we’re in, and then getting behind the players and the spirit, the Goonies’ spirit, that never-say-die-attitude of the club. That is something that people fall in love with. It’s great to see people embracing the courage that the guys show every Saturday night. 

Now it’s on to Sporting Park for an appetizer to the soccer feast that surely lies ahead on Coleman Avenue. 

- Richter Media