The MLS has come a long way since 1996. Recently, it signed a huge broadcasting deal with Apple that could have a seismic shift on the league itself as it nears its third decade. While the only constant in the MLS is change, we thought now was as good of a time as ever to take a look at the huge diversity in the stadium design in the MLS, starting with stadiums ranked from 28th-14th.
28. Yankee Stadium – New York City FC
I’m not gonna waste much time on this one, just look at the photo attached to see that soccer in a baseball isn’t a good idea. The sooner NYCFC can get their own stadium, the better.
27. Solider Field – Chicago Fire
Another low-hanging fruit stadium in terms of criticizing. Soldier Field is one of the oldest stadiums in North America, and was beloved in Chicago. However, a controversial renovation twenty-so years ago has been very unpopular. The stadium now is likely on borrowed time as the NFL’s Chicago Bears are actively looking to leave Soldier Field.
26. Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte FC
Home of the new expansion team Charlotte FC, this stadium was built as the home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and as such, feels very much like an NFL and not a soccer stadium. It is effectively a cookie cutter stadium from the mid-’90s which although it’s impressive in size, fails to inspire or really work as a soccer stadium.
25. Gillette Stadium – New England Revolution
Opened in 2002, the stadium has been no stranger to success in that time, with its main tenant the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl six times. The stadium itself was built during an era when many stadiums in the NFL had a similar design such as the Tennessee Titans stadium and Baltimore Ravens stadium, giving it a copy-paste design. The main city it serves, Boston, is 30 miles away and over an hour away by public transport. It does, however, have a rather unique lighthouse and bridge by its entranceway, which pays a fitting tribute to the maritime culture of the area.
24. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Colorado Rapids
Built in 2007, the stadium is a classic victim of being too young to have a vintage charm, but too old in terms of being bold with its design. The stadium features a grey and white colour scheme which doesn’t fit the team’s own burgundy and blue colours. The stadium itself also gives off a barebones feel to it, and you can’t help but think if the stadium was built ten years later it would’ve been much better.
23. Dignity Health Sports Park – LA Galaxy
Another not all too inspiring soccer stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park was opened in 2003 and while it’s serviceable and not bad, it just fails to really capture the imagination all the much,
22. Pay Pal Park – San Jose Earthquakes
Opened in 2015, PayPal Park is a nice stadium with just a couple of issues that hold it back in my eyes. The tiers are somewhat elevated, denying many fans the potential to be at pitch level and detracting from the match-day experience. Additionally, the usage of only three stands gives the stadium an incomplete feel compared to other MLS stadiums, especially when the view you get is just that of a runway.
21. Rio Tinto Stadium – Real Salt Lake
Home of the Utah-based Real Salt Lake, Rio Tinto has roofs on both of its sideline stands but still feels very open, which gives the stadium somewhat of an American football bowl aesthetic. The stadium is designed with red seats, however, some seats are redder than others, with the lighter red design holding the potential of the stadium design back.
20. Stade Saputo – CF Montreal
The first Canadian stadium to make this list, Stade Saputo was built in the shadow of Olympic Stadium but is, fortunately, a much better stadium than the ill-fated venue for the 1976 games. The wavy patterned use of colours used in the stand behind the goal looks very smart, and having three stands connected with one being separate gives the stadium a nice design which allows it to maintain some character.
19. PNC Stadium – Houston Dynamo
I love the colour scheme, in the grand scheme of the sport, there aren’t many orange stadiums. The design itself, however, feels like a missed opportunity. There is little to no design within the interior other than the orange seats, the sort of unfinished look of having unconnected roofs scattered throughout the stadium also isn’t doing it for me, especially given how warm it is in Texas it could probably do with the shading.
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18. Toyota Stadium – FC Dallas
Another Texan stadium, Toyota Stadium used red, blue and white colours, which helps to breed life into the stadium. While its look is a bit basic and minimalistic, it can be said that it’s at least different and a bit unorthodox.
17. Red Bull Arena – New York RedBulls
Home of everyone’s favourite sports conglomerate and soccer history respecter’s Red Bull, Red Bull Arena is very similar looking to Red Bull Salzburg’s Red Bull Arena, although it can be differentiated from Red Bull Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena (yes they all have the same name, I wish I was making this up). The NY Red Bull arena is a serviceable stadium, but I can’t help but wish it was more individualistic.
16. BMO Stadium – Toronto FC
Built on the shores of Lake Ontario, BMO Field has seen lots of expansion over the years and with it being slated to host games at the 2026 World Cup – the expansion hasn’t stopped yet. In the meantime, the two contrasting sideline stands look great in making the stadium have an individualistic character. The elevated roofs that rise well above the stands also provide a good job in making BMO the perfect home for the 2017 MLS Cup champions.
15. Subaru Park – Philadelphia Union
Similar to BMO with its raised roof, Subaru Park is built literally right by a bridge on the river and while it made be a logistical challenge, it works pretty well with the stadium. The seats are predominantly blue with the word UNION written across one of the sideline stands, making it very clear to those who travel who the home team is.
14. BC Place – Vancouver Whitecaps
The highest of the three Canadian stadiums, the home of the opening/closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter games and host venue for the 2015 Women’s FIFA World Cup might have the best Stadium location on the list, being right on the Pacific Ocean in downtown Vancouver. The stadium’s roof was renovated after the 2010 Olympics and the cable-operated retractable roof gives the arena looking Stadium a unique design for its exterior. The interior, meanwhile, is made of two tiers and uses a colourful red, orange and grey seat colour design to help give the stadium on Canada’s Pacific coast more character.
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3 thoughts on “Ranking the MLS stadiums – Part 1”
Columbus is a bad stadium.stade Saputo is really better.
Not true. Columbus is pretty darn good Stadium that is fan friendly. Attended a US World Cup qualifying match there and thought it was a good design, although not a top tier design. Btw I’m an architect who designs sports facilities