Soccer-specific stadium is a term used mainly in the United States and Canada to refer to a sports stadium either purpose-built or fundamentally redesigned for soccer and whose primary function is to host soccer matches, as opposed to a multi-purpose stadium which is for a variety of sports. A soccer-specific stadium may host other sporting events (such as lacrosse, American football and rugby) and concerts, but the design and purpose of a soccer-specific stadium is primarily for soccer. Some facilities (for example Toyota Park, Toyota Stadium and Mapfre Stadium) have a permanent stage at one end of the stadium used for staging concerts.
A soccer-specific stadium typically has amenities, dimensions and scale suitable for soccer in North America, including a scoreboard, video screen, luxury suites and possibly a roof. The field dimensions are within the range found optimal by FIFA: 110–120 yards (100–110 m) long by 70–80 yards (64–73 m) wide. These soccer field dimensions are wider than the regulation American football field width of 53 1⁄3 yards (48.8 m), or the 65-yard (59 m) width of a Canadian football field. The playing surface typically consists of grass as opposed to artificial turf, as the latter is generally disfavored for soccer matches since players are more susceptible to injuries. However, some soccer specific stadiums, such as Portland's Providence Park and Creighton University's Morrison Stadium, do have artificial turf.
The seating capacity is generally small enough to provide an intimate setting, between 18,000 and 30,000 for a Major League Soccer franchise, or smaller for college or minor league soccer teams. This is in comparison to the much larger American football stadiums that mostly range between 60,000 and 80,000 in which the original North American Soccer League teams played and most MLS teams occupied during the league's inception. As opposed to gridiron-style football stadiums, where the front row of seats is elevated several feet above the field of play to allow spectators to see over the heads of substitute players and coaches on the sidelines, soccer-specific venues typically have the front row closer to the level of the pitch, providing a more intimate experience.
In the 1980s and 1990s, first-division professional soccer leagues in the United States, such as the North American Soccer League and Major League Soccer, primarily used American football fields, many of which were oversized in terms of seating capacity and undersized in terms of width of the soccer field; they often used artificial turf (none of which, at the time, were approved for international soccer under FIFA rules). Although many of the baseball parks had smaller capacities, natural grass, and a wider field, these parks were generally in use during summer, when North American–based soccer leagues, such as Major League Soccer, also hold their seasons, and the irregular field dimensions and sightlines were often considered undesirable.
Soccer-specific stadiums first came into use in the 1990s, after the multi-purpose stadium era.
The term "soccer-specific stadium" was coined by Lamar Hunt, who financed the construction of the Columbus Crew Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer. In the 2000s, other Major League Soccer teams in the United States began constructing their own stadiums. Canada's first soccer-specific stadium was BMO Field in Toronto, home to Toronto FC. This stadium was renovated to accommodate Canadian football for the 2016 and subsequent seasons. The distinction is less prominent in Canada, where MLS's attendance figures are comparable to those of the domestic Canadian Football League, and the CFL's wider field means fewer compromises must be made to accommodate both; Tim Hortons Field was built purposely to both soccer specifications and CFL regulations. Of the three Canadian cities that host both MLS and CFL teams, only one (Montreal) has separate stadiums for each.
Major League Soccer (MLS)
Current MLS soccer-specific stadiums
Proposed MLS soccer-specific stadiums
|Stadium||Club(s)||Metro area||Proposed capacity|
|Austin FC stadium||Austin FC||Austin, Texas||20,500|
|New Columbus Crew Stadium||Columbus Crew SC||Columbus, Ohio||20,000|
|Miami Freedom Park||Inter Miami CF||Miami, Florida||25,000|
|Nashville Fairgrounds Stadium||Nashville SC||Nashville, Tennessee||30,000|
|Railyards Stadium||Sacramento Republic FC||Sacramento, California||20,100|
|St. Louis MLS stadium||St. Louis||St. Louis, Missouri||22,500|
|West End Stadium||FC Cincinnati||Cincinnati, Ohio||26,000|
National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
Current NWSL soccer-specific stadiums
|BBVA Stadium||Houston Dash||Houston, Texas||22,039||2012|
|Exploria Stadium||Orlando Pride||Orlando, Florida||25,500||2017|
|Maryland SoccerPlex||Washington Spirit||Boyds, Maryland||4,000||2000|
|Providence Park||Portland Thorns FC||Portland, Oregon||25,218||2011|
|Rio Tinto Stadium||Utah Royals FC||Sandy, Utah||20,213||2008|
|SeatGeek Stadium||Chicago Red Stars||Bridgeview, Illinois||20,000||2006|
|WakeMed Soccer Park||North Carolina Courage||Cary, North Carolina||10,000||2002|
|Yurcak Field||Sky Blue FC||Piscataway, New Jersey||5,000||1994|
USL Championship (USLC)
Current USLC soccer-specific stadiums
All USL Championship teams will be required to play in self-owned, soccer-specific stadiums by the 2020 season. The following is a list of current USL stadiums that are soccer-specific stadiums:
Proposed USL soccer-specific stadiums
|Stadium||Club(s)||Metro area||Proposed capacity|
|American Legion Memorial Stadium||Charlotte Independence||Charlotte, North Carolina||10,000|
|East Bay Stadium||USL East Bay||East Bay, California||15,000|
|Eleven Park||Indy Eleven||Indianapolis, Indiana||20,000|
|Lynn Family Stadium||Louisville City FC||Louisville, Kentucky||11,700|
NCAA (Division I)
Other soccer-specific stadiums
|City Park Stadium||Westchester Flames||USL2||New Rochelle, New York||1,845||1970s|
|King George V Park||National Stadium
|St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador||10,000||1925|
|Lusitano Stadium||Western Mass Pioneers||USL2||Ludlow, Massachusetts||3,000||1918|
|Macpherson Stadium||Carolina Dynamo||USL2||Browns Summit, North Carolina||7,000||2002|
|Metropolitan Oval||Queens, New York||1,500||1925 (2001 renovation)|
|Orange Beach Sportsplex||Local teams||Local||Orange Beach, Alabama||1,500||2001|
|Starfire Sports||Tukwila, Washington||4,500||2002|
|Uihlein Soccer Park||MSOE Raiders||NCAA||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||7,000||1994|
|Virginia Beach Sportsplex||Virginia Beach United FC||USL2||Virginia Beach, Virginia||10,500||1999|
|WRAL Soccer Center||CASL teams||CASL||Raleigh, North Carolina||3,200||1990|
Past soccer-specific stadiums
|Mark's Stadium||Fall River F.C.||Tiverton (CDP), Rhode Island||15,000||1922||1922–1950s||vacant grass lot|
|BMO Field||Toronto FC||Toronto, Ontario||30,991||2007||2007–present||converted to a multi-purpose stadium in 2016 after becoming the home of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts|
|Fifth Third Bank Stadium||Kennesaw State Owls||Kennesaw, Georgia||8,318||2010||2010–present||converted to a multi-purpose stadium in 2015 after Kennesaw State University launched their football program|
The term "football-specific stadium" is sometimes used in countries where the sport is known as football rather than soccer, although the term is not common in countries where football is the dominant sport and thus football-specific stadiums are quite common. The term tends to have a slightly different meaning in these countries, usually referring to a stadium without an athletics track surrounding the field. Some soccer stadiums in Europe are also used for other sports, including rugby, American football, and field hockey. The problem with oversized stadiums designed for another sport is particularly visible in European American football leagues and conflicts between teams sharing the stadium (a notable example are Eintracht Braunschweig and the Braunschweig Lions which share a stadium) and (often municipal) owners of the stadiums sometimes arise, leading to attempts at single sport-specific venues.
- Also used by the Houston Dash of the NWSL.
- Was also used by the Los Angeles Sol of Women's Professional Soccer in that team's only season in 2009.
- Also used by the Orlando Pride of the NWSL.
- The stadium was originally built in 1926 for multiple uses, including soccer and baseball. It was renovated into a soccer-specific stadium in 2011 and is also used by Portland Timbers 2 and Portland Thorns FC.
- Also used by the Utah Royals FC of the NWSL and Real Monarchs of the USLC.
- Also used by the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL.
- Almost exclusively as a baseball park for over 60 years. However, since the Rowdies moved to the facility in 2011, it has been reconfigured to better host soccer.
- The stadium was originally built in 1983 for the Las Vegas Stars and Las Vegas 51s baseball team. It is currently being renovated into a soccer-specific stadium with baseball moved to Las Vegas Ballpark.
- Also home of Sky Blue FC of the NWSL.
- Sakiewicz, Edward Paul (2006). "Chapter I: Introduction". A Comparative Study of Enterprise Risk Management and Decision Making Criteria Used in Developing Soccer-specific Stadiums for Major League Soccer. p. 24. Retrieved August 1, 2015 – via Google Books.
- "Laws of the Game 2010/2011" (PDF). FIFA. p. 7. Retrieved October 9, 2010. Although the official Laws of the Game allow for pitches in adult matches to be 100–130 yards (91–119 m) long by 50–100 yards (46–91 m) wide. The more restrictive range is specified for international matches like the ones used in the FIFA World Cup.
- Fox Sports (September 10, 2014). "USWNT stars not backing down on artificial playing surface stance". FOX Sports. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
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