The 2018 MLS season is almost here, and it is shaping up to be a memorable year in the evolution of the league’s stadiums. With two venues opening this season, MLS is continuing its move toward modern and—in most cases—soccer-specific venues, as both Los Angeles FC’s Banc of California Stadium and D.C. United’s Audi Field represent another step in that direction. To look at the current state of the league’s facilities, we list MLS stadiums oldest to newest.
Providence Park, Portland Timbers (1926)
A multipurpose outdoor sports venue for much of its history, Providence Park hosted baseball into the 21st century. However, the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) departed for Tucson following the 2010 season, a move that allowed for renovations to make it a permanent MLS venue. The Timbers have been well supported by their fan base since debuting in 2011, and Providence Park is currently ongoing an expansion that will result in about 4,000 additional seats once complete.
BC Place, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1983)
Originally opening as a multipurpose domed stadium with an air-supported roof, BC Place debuted a series of new renovations in 2011, with one of the biggest additions being a new cable-supported retractable roof. Along with MLS action, the venue hosts a variety of other events, including Canadian Football League games for the BC Lions.
MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus Crew SC (1999)
When it opened as Columbus Crew Stadium, the venue was billed as the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS. It helped usher in an era of similar facilities, ultimately setting the course for a model that has been copied numerous times throughout the league. However, its future in MLS is uncertain, as Crew SC is currently exploring a move to Austin.
CenturyLink Field, Seattle Sounders FC (2002)
CenturyLink Field has earned a reputation as a premier MLS venue, thanks to strong support from the Sounders’ fan base and the facility’s ability to easily adjust from NFL to MLS. The stadium was designed to accommodate both sports, and also serves as the home of the NFL’s Seahawks.
Gillette Stadium, New England Revolution (2002)
After starting out at Foxboro Stadium, the Revolution joined the NFL’s Patriots at Gillette Stadium when it opened. Robert Kraft, who owns both teams, has previously sought to move the Revolution into a soccer-specific stadium in the Boston area, but no plans for a new facility have moved forward to this point.
StubHub Center, Los Angeles Galaxy (2003)
Over its years of existence, StubHub Center—originally known as Home Depot Center—has built a reputation for providing a strong fan experience. It also holds the distinction of having once hosted two MLS teams simultaneously—Chivas USA shared the facility with the Galaxy from 2005-2014—and is currently serving as a temporary home for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers are expected to remain at the venue until their new Inglewood stadium opens in 2020.
Toyota Stadium, FC Dallas (2005)
An early entry in MLS’s soccer-specific stadium wave, Toyota Stadium is located in suburban Frisco. The facility is currently undergoing a series of renovations that will include the addition of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.
Toyota Park, Chicago Fire (2006)
Located in suburban Bridgeview, Toyota Park is another example of an early MLS soccer-specific venue. To allow fans to be seated close to the action, the stadium was designed so that the first row of seats was elevated just 18 inches above the playing field.
BMO Field, Toronto FC (2007)
BMO Field began hosting MLS action upon Toronto FC’s debut in the league in 2007. Its current appearance is different from how it looked when it originally opened, as the facility has since undergone a major expansion to accommodate the CFL’s Argonauts.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Colorado Rapids (2007)
After spending their first 11 seasons at two NFL facilities—first Mile High Stadium, followed by Invesco Field at Mile High—the Rapids moved into this suburban Commerce City venue. The venue is part of a larger soccer complex that includes 22 natural grass and two synthetic turf fields.
Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake (2008)
Like other soccer-specific venues constructed before and since, this suburban Sandy facility offers the ability to host concerts and other outdoor events. Starting in 2018, it will be the home of Utah Royals FC, making it latest the venue to host both MLS and NWSL clubs.
Saputo Stadium, Montreal Impact (2008)
Originally constructed when the Impact was a member of the NASL, the stadium was expanded in 2012 to coincide with the club’s move up to MLS. It is located in Olympic Park and sits just outside of Olympic Stadium.
TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota United FC (2009)
Primarily the home of the University of Minnesota’s football program, TCF Bank Stadium is hosting United FC until the club’s new facility in St. Paul opens in 2019. This is not the first time a major professional sports franchise has used TCF Bank Stadium on a temporary basis, as the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings played there from 2014-15 while awaiting the completion of U.S. Bank Stadium.
Yankee Stadium, New York City FC (2009)
Built for MLB’s New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium made its MLS debut when NYCFC began play in 2015. The club wants to build a soccer-specific stadium in New York but will likely remain at Yankee Stadium until a new facility is secured.
Red Bull Arena, New York Red Bulls (2010)
After spending years in the Meadowlands, the Red Bulls moved to this facility in Harrison—a suburb of Newark—in 2010. The 25,000-seat stadium features a concrete lower bowl, with a metal upper bowl intended to make for a nosier atmosphere.
Talen Energy Stadium, Philadelphia Union (2010)
Political support for the stadium’s construction in nearby Chester helped Philadelphia land an MLS expansion franchise. After using Lincoln Financial Field for early-season home matches, the Union played its first game at the facility in June 2010.
Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting KC (2011)
Featuring a canopy roof that covers every seating section, Children’s Mercy Park has earned a reputation for being one of the more unique atmospheres in MLS. It is located in Kansas City, KS.
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston Dynamo (2012)
One of the more unique aspects of the stadium’s design is its facade, which includes orange coloring and a geometrically-shaped tessellated aluminum mesh. BBVA Compass Stadium is also an example of a soccer-specific facility constructed in a downtown-type setting, as parts of seating bowl offer a view of the Houston skyline.
Avaya Stadium, San Jose Earthquakes (2015)
Upon its opening, Avaya Stadium was noted for many of its technology features, as it was billed as the first cloud-enabled professional sports venue. It also features several other distinct amenities, including the longest outdoor bar in North America.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta United FC (2017)
The stadium has already been the site of several MLS attendance records for United FC matches, and it contains unique design features that allow it to be easily converted from football to soccer. It will host the 2018 MLS All-Star Game.
Orlando City Stadium, Orlando City SC (2017)
Designed by Populous, Orlando City Stadium was the first in MLS to feature a safe standing supporters section. It is located in Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood.
Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles FC (2018)
Currently under construction at the site of the former Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Banc of California Stadium will offer some unique premium seating and technology features. LAFC is expected to play its first match at the stadium on April 29.
Audi Field, D.C. United (2018)
After a long search for a new facility to replace RFK Stadium, United is now preparing to move into Audi Field in D.C.’s Buzzard Point neighborhood. Audi Field will be located near Nationals Park—home to MLB’s Nationals—and is expected to make its MLS debut in July 2018.
Image of StubHub Center courtesy LA Galaxy.
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