The San Jose Earthquakes new state-of-the-art venue, Avaya Stadium, opened in March of 2015. Just as an Olympic relay precedes the arrival of the flame at its final destination, The Great Soccer Ball Relay ceremoniously preceded the arrival of the soccer ball arriving at the first Earthquakes home game at the new Avaya Stadium.
Going along with the “March Home” theme, the marketing campaign surrounding the opening of the stadium, all of the participants were marching (or dribbling a ball) toward the club’s new home.
The relay began its course on January 7 before traveling throughout the Bay Area, visiting 20 cities and finally arriving in San Jose at the stadium for the beginning of the inaugural match. The route spanned 10 weeks and featured soccer clinics and community events each weekend led by the Earthquakes Academy staff.
The relay traveled past many iconic landmarks and even by a variety of different modes of transportation, including a horse-drawn carriage in Sacramento and a cable car in San Francisco.
The relay had a star-studded list of celebrity dribblers that participated alongside fans, local community members, and youth soccer representatives, including Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp, Bob Melvin, Leslie Osborne and Aly Wagner, Dwight Clark, Kevin Youkilis, Owen Nolan, USA Olympians, Quakes forward Adam Jahn, radio and TV personalities, and government officials.
The Great Soccer Ball Relay culminated at the Avaya Stadium Home Opener on March 22, 2015. The final stretch featured Brandi Chastain, Amir Bashti of the Quakes Academy, Paul Child, and Lola Herning.