The San Jose Earthquakes opened Avaya Stadium perfectly according to script, winning 2-1 over the Chicago Fire before a capacity crowd of 18,000.
The new Earthquakes stadium was years in the making, but in the end it was worth the wait. The new $100-million stadium, noted for the longest outdoor bar in the world and high-tech design from HOK Sports + Recreation + Entertainment, isn’t necessarily the facility first envisioned by all involved — Brad Schrock called it a “stripped down” facility — it does stress shade and comfort for the fans:
“It is incredibly intimate and captures the energy of the fan,” Schrock said. “It harkens back to great European soccer venues, really tight, steep seating bowl with big overhangs to amplify the crowd noise.”
The roof connects to the back of the seating bowl so there’s no noise leakage and uses a metal deck and structural steel—the angularity of the steel on the sides of the stadium are to support the roof, even if a future façade will eventually put a covering on them—to capture fan energy and reflect acoustics back toward the pitch.
It almost didn’t happen. After years of owners seeking funding for a new stadium, the original San Jose Earthquakes bolted for Houston, leaving a great market without pro soccer. Oakland Athletics owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher, backed by a local booster group, stepped in to launch a replacement and began the long process of securing land and government approval for a new privately financed facility. After years at Buck Shaw Stadium, the Earthquakes finally have their new home.
But the stadium is built for soccer, not folderol. It’s not a spectacular or imposing stadium. It’s just a really good stadium, a fun stadium, an excellent athletic stage, a place you can go watch a game with your family — or with your pals to hang out at the end zone bar. Most games are expected to be sellouts this season, especially with the team off to a winning start.
Ultimately, the only Avaya drawback might be that it’s a little too small and could use a few thousand more seats, though Garber has his own idea about that.