I had a great opportunity last week to travel to Houston to see their new venue, BBVA Compass Stadium. The facility is fantastic and I learned a lot that we can apply to our own venue as we continue toward finalizing the working drawings. Their building has a very similar construction budget to ours, so it’s a very good reference point. Here were some of my observations and their application to our situation:
Seats: We are definitely going to use fixed chair back seats with armrests and cup holders throughout the stadium. The only two exceptions will be the supporters area, which will be a terraced, standing-only area on the closed end of the stadium, and the terraced grass area next to the scoreboard bar on the open end of the facility. It’s critically important to us that the seats are comfortable and convenient for our fans.
Concourse: Houston had wide concourses and we plan on having them as well. I am really happy that we will have a view to the field from our concourse. Being able to see the pitch from the concourse adds depth to the viewing possibilities in our new stadium. No matter where fans are, they can feel connected to the game. I think this will become signature features of our venue.
Exterior skin: Houston has a really cool artistic exterior skin that looks awesome at night. Kudos to the designers on this. We have yet to finalize our plans on this front, but their skin looked awesome.
Epicenter: Similar to our Epicenter Fan Zone, Houston closes a street next to their venue that acts as a place for fans to congregate before kickoff. The area is packed with food options, inflatables, sponsor activation and a stage. We will do the same thing in our venue with the epicenter on the open end of the stadium.
On the match front, I think former Earthquakes great and current radio analyst Chris Dangerfield best summed up our performance from Saturday by borrowing a famous line from Yogi Berra: It’s déjà vu all over again. For a second straight week, Alan Gordon delivered the goods with a dramatic late goal, this time on an acrobatic never-give-up equalizer in the 90th minute.
We certainly had our chances to win and get three points. The team’s attacking flare was evident all night and we outshot the Crew 24-9 with plenty of quality chances, especially in the first half. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before the boys broke the seal and notched a goal. The problem was that Crew keeper, Andy Gruenebaum, had other ideas and made impressive save after impressive save, including one on a Chris Wondowlowski penalty in the 21th minute. Gruenebaum’s effort combined with a picture-perfect Justin Meram goal in first-half stoppage time left the Quakes feeling a little like Bayern Munich in the Champions League final against Chelsea.
On the positive side, the team again showed the same resolve it has all season and found a way to find a thrilling late goal. Kudos to coach Frank Yallop for another great set of subs. I thought Tressor Moreno gave us a great spark and made some very creative plays in the midfield in the last 20 minutes. Not to mention super sub Alan Gordon’s heroics.
The Quakes remained in second place in the Western Conference with 24 points, two points shy of Real Salt Lake with a game in hand. This is a huge week as the squad travels to The Home Depot Center to take on the struggling LA Galaxy and then to the midwest to take on Eastern Conference powerhouse Sporting KC.
Finally, I want to give a very special shout out to Quakes star Chris Wondolowski who reported to U.S. Men's National Team camp in Orlando, Fla. This is another fantastic honor for Chris. We could not be happier or more proud of his accomplishments not only for the Quakes but also for the United States of America. His leadership and skills on the pitch will be a great asset for Team USA as we start qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
San Jose Earthquakes
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