With the season on the way, we have two new USL Championship stadiums debuting in coming months: Weidner Field (Colorado Springs Switchbacks) and a new Wild Horse Pass facility (Phoenix Rising FC), plus a renovated Memorial Stadium (Charlotte Independence).
Weidner Field opened with an exhibition game on Saturday night, as a limited-capacity crowd of 2,200 (mostly season-ticket holders) saw the Switchbacks tie Orange County SC at the new downtown Colorado Springs stadium. This is the second Weidner Field, and and while there are some notable features, including a striking entry plaza (seen below), the stadium is also billed by the team as the highest facility used for pro soccer–some 6,035 feet above sea level.
The initial response was positive, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette: “This felt like a regular-season game to me,” said Switchbacks defender Jordan Burt. “When we’ve been training, we’ve had cranes in here and they’ve been finishing all the details of the stadium. But to see the lights on and the fans here, it was truly special. It brings an energy that I really love.”
The new stadium is part of the larger City for Champions initiative in Colorado Springs The stadium will seat just over 8,000 for soccer matches, with that figure expandable to as much as 15,000 for events such as concerts. A mixed-use development component is also part of the project, as Weidner Apartment Homes will develop an apartment building overlooking the stadium. It replaces the 5,000-seat Weidner Field as the club’s home.
In the greater Phoenix area, the advantages of building a modular stadium were displayed when the owners of Phoenix Rising FC announced a move to the Gila River Indian Community along with improvements to the stadium. Those improvements: increased seating capacity, improved VIP luxury suites, better entry and exit from the stadium complex and added additional training fields. Part of the complex are new; some were taken from the team’s old home at the the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
In addition to increased seating, the stadium will include an enhanced video board, a larger press box, improved sound and a new family-friendly general admission section opposite the lively supporters’ area anchored by the Los Bandidos and Red Fury fan groups. Expansion plans include a permanent ticket office, new locker rooms and an on-site administrative office.
The new Phoenix Rising FC stadium is set to open Friday night.
We won’t see a Memorial Stadium opening until June. The renovation project will effectively modernize the historic facility–first built in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project–for a variety of uses, including football, lacrosse, concerts, and professional soccer matches. (Yes, we know some are positioning this as a new stadium. It’s our practice to treat an overhaul like this, where elements of the old facility like infrastructure and playing field were used in the process, as a renovation and not an all-new stadium.)
Images of Weidner Field courtesy Colorado Springs Switchbacks, via Twitter. Rendering of Memorial Stadium renovation courtesy Charlotte Independence.