Dunstan Allison-Hope (Section 124) has only been a Season Ticket Holder for a short time, but his devotion cannot be questioned. After visiting Avaya Stadium on his 40th birthday in 2015, he became intrigued by the club, having not known much about its existence since moving from England almost 13 years ago. As a boy, he played with LEGOs, building English stadiums and more, but as he grew older, his LEGO days came to what he thought was an end. Little did the Quakes know, after visiting the brand new Avaya Stadium in 2015, he would again pick up his boyhood hobby and make the most intricate stadium he had ever built.
The LEGO stadium will now sit in the Quakes' new trophy case in the Front Office alongside the two MLS Cup trophies, Wondo’s Golden Boot & more. We thank Dunstan for his incredible creation and hope everyone gets a chance to see it in person one day! SJEarthquakes.com sat down with Dunstan when he dropped the stadium off to get the inside scoop on how he did it.
SJEarthquakes.com: What brought you to the United States from England, and how did you get involved with the Quakes?
Dunstan Allison-Hope: I came for work. I'm employed by a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco - I came out 12 years ago and stayed. What drew me to the Quakes was seeing an advertisement for this stadium and thinking I should try it out and see what a MLS game is like. At my first game, the Quakes beat the Columbus Crew 2-0 on May 16, 2015 on my 40th birthday. I came here and thought to myself 'I should have done this 10 years earlier. I guess this stadium was my midlife crisis!
SJEQ: Give us a bit of your background with LEGO & soccer/football?
DA: I grew up playing LEGO and eventually wanted to make all 92 football stadiums in the English Football League. I got to 50! I was always interested in it. This was the 1980s, so they all looked very different. Villa Park was challenging, and my home team, Oxford United's was challenging as well. Avaya Stadium was very different, though. I put a lot more time into this.
I usually would build them, let them sit for two or three weeks, then demolish them. It would be on a Saturday afternoon. I'd build one while listening to the commentary of my team, and next week I'd make another one. This is the most detailed stadium I've ever built.
SJEQ: Had you stopped making LEGOs since you moved over?
DA: Yes, I had completely stopped. I had to start from scratch and buy all of the LEGOs online. Once you know what pieces you want, you can order them. That's what takes the time because you have to have all of the right colors and pieces.
SJEQ: When did you decide to build Avaya Stadium?
DA: It was after that first season. I went online and noticed the blues you could buy and thought 'this could work.' I needed a project to escape from work. I didn't write out plans or draw anything because I did it growing up.
SJEQ: How do you go about organizing and planning how you'll be building it?
DA: I guess the key was starting with the red seats. Because they're placed in the same positioning as they are in real life, the stadium and the rest of the seats were really built around that.
SJEQ: What was the hardest part?
DA: The roof was the hardest part for sure. Because it's so fragile, it was hard to make it stay on top of the rest, because there's nothing holding it up. In real life, you could have steel bars, but that was kind of tricky.
SJEQ: How long is the ordering process, and how long did it take to build?
DA: The making of it was only about 24 hours of actual building time, but the actual ordering of the pieces takes about three weeks for them to arrive, so if you have some pieces that you didn't buy that you now know that you need, you've now got to wait three weeks to get going again. So in all it probably took about two or three months and I reckon about 5,000 pieces, but I didn't count.
SJEQ: What's your favorite part of being a Season Ticket Holder?
DA: It's fantastic to have a local team. I grew up supporting my hometown team, so I'm happy to have one now as well. I like the way that everything is to play for most of the year. In English football there are only a few teams at the top, Anyone can win at anytime here. The atmosphere at the stadium is fantastic. The drumming and the singing is just great to hear.