Red Bull Park - The way US soccer stadiums should be
The strange thing about most MLS soccer specific stadiums is how much they are not designed specifically for soccer. Yes, the pitch is the proper size and the seats are aligned more for the game, but the presence of a stage tells you the real story. Teams will make some money on soccer games but the big dollars come in from other ventures. Perhaps calling them soccer owned stadiums would be a bit more exact.
So that's why Red Bull Park impresses me so much as everything about is to make the soccer experience better. The first row of seats is only 21 feet away from the touchline while seats in general are compact (on a sharper incline) to allow fans to be closer to the pitch. Plus the roof covers every seat, which will not only help with weather issues, but will also mean the place is going to echo the noise. And then there is the other nice touch of having a media section located in the lower bowl right behind the player benches. This might not seem like much, but having media in the middle of the fans will let the atmosphere of the place seep into their reporting.
I'm sure other events will take place at this stadium, but from the design it is obvious that priorities 1,2 and 3 are soccer and the fans that come out to watch it. Anything else they hold there is an extra topping.
The opening of Crew Stadium in 1999 was all about respect, while Red Bull Park’s opening in 2009 will be about proof that this game is alive and well in the USA. Now, will the team that plays there be able to live up to the greatness of the stadium?