Heading into its eleventh season, the NWSL continues to go from strength to strength, with further expansion looking inevitable. This will mean more new stadiums, which will hopefully mean three new venues that can match the high quality of stadia the league is already blessed with. So while we wait for the 2023 season to begin, let’s take a look and rank the best stadiums used in the National Women’s Soccer League.
12. WakeMed Soccer Park – North Carolina Courage
So where has to be bottom, and unfortunately but not surprisingly – it’s WakeMed Soccer Park. The stadium is the smallest in the league with a capacity of just 10,000, and the stands have somewhat of a temporary look to them. Overall this stadium reminds me of either an oversized high school football team stadium, or a small college football stadium. That being said it serves its purpose well as a home stadium for the Courage, and perhaps future redevelopment could be a possibility?
11. Seat Geek Stadium – Chicago Red Stars
The former home of MLS side Chicago Fire, Seat Geek Stadium is still the home of the Red Stars who have played there since 2016. Seat Geek Stadium has two symmetrical sideline stands which are connected by one stand that wraps around and also has a smaller stand, cresting a horseshoe shape. The stadium isn’t exactly the most inspiring in North America, and its location twelve miles outside Chicago has been a problem. But it’s a perfectly functional stadium, and serves as a good home for the Red Stars – it’s for sure a better stadium than Soldier Field where the Chicago Fire play.
10. Snapdragon Stadium – San Diego Wave
A football stadium in disguise as a soccer stadium, Snaodragon Stadium also plays home to San Diego State University Aztecs and was officially opened just last year in 2012. It’s not a bad stadium, but it just doesn’t jump out to me, which is typical of football focused stadium architecture as opposed to soccer. Not to mention that the lack of any shading is a serious concern with the hot California weather. But what can’t be denied is that its large capacity of 32,000 is justified. Last season San Diego sold out a game versus LA, making it the larger attended game in NWSL history!
9. Shell Energy Stdoum Stadium – Houston Dash
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.
8. Red Bull Arena – NJ/NY Gotham
As well as Gotham, the stadium is the 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.
7.Lynn Family Stadium – Racing Louisville
Another new stadium, Lynn Family stadium opened in 2020, and it is a very impressive venue. The use of purple in the interior colour scheme meshes perfectly with the team’s identity. And the dark brown exterior is a fantastic contrast that really makes the stadium as a whole stand out. It’s a beautiful stadium, that can count itself as unfortunate that the league has so many fantastic stadiums. Definitely consider it seventh best rather than fifth worst.
6. Children’s Mercy Park – Kansas City Current
With this stadium, the thing that jumps out to me the most is the all-blue roof, which combined with the rest of the stadium’s use of blue and dark blue looks excellent and perfectly encapsulates Sporting Kansas City’s colour – the local MLS team. The stadium design also impresses me, it has the look of a modern stadium but is also designed creatively so as to not look like a copy and paste job.
S. 2 Ep. 17 – Can Canada Hold Herdman – FC13 Podcast
5. Lumen Field – OL Reign
One of the better dual Soccer/NFL in t North America, Lumen also features two imposing stands along its sideline that help to generate the stadium’s famously loud and intimidating atmosphere. Its colour scheme fits well with the Pacific North West region that it represents.
4; BMO Stadium – Angel City
It’s hard to go wrong with black and gold, and BMO Stadium is a beautiful-looking stadium from the inside. Its interior is mostly black with gold used to compliment it, which goes together perfectly, although I wish the gold could’ve been perhaps a bit bolder to contrast more against the black. But it’s certainly my favourite soccer stadium in California.
3; Audi Field – Washington Spirit
Opened in 2018, United left their longtime home RFK stadium to move to Audi Field and while RFK is iconic, Audi Field in itself is a fantastic-looking venue. Its two goal-end stands are the main standouts. The first one is black and grey with the words DC UNITED etched on them in red and white, the second one runs three-quarters the length of the pitch and has faded red and black colours. The stadium is also designed in a way that people outside the stadium can see it, helping to connect the team more with the fans in Washington DC.
2; Providence Park – Portland Thorns
The oldest soccer-specific stadium in NWSL, Providence Park is 96 years old and with its unorthodox design and passionate fan base that spawns generations, it wears its history with pride. The main feature is its large curved stand by the goal that houses its loudest supporters, and really does look like it was built in another era. Its main stand with its many tiers is also a unique look. Whilst the opposite goal doesn’t have much of a stand to call its own, Providence Park shines (mostly in the rain) anyway, and is one of the best places in all of North America to watch a game.
1. Exploria Stadium – Orlando Pride
As you’ve probably gathered, I’m a sucker for colour, and to see a stadium in all dark purple is amazing. The little details look good also, such as despite one of the stands appearing to be separate, it is connected with seats near the bottom of the stand that wraps around the stadium whilst still giving the stadium an open feel. The neutral-coloured stand does stand out, but because it’s for a standing section (which is the best way to create an atmosphere in soccer) I’ll happily and shamelessly give it a pass
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