Welcome to the Tuesday, July 17 edition of the TopDrawerSoccer.com Round Robin, where our editorial staff members weigh in on important topics in the world of American soccer. Please note that each opinion expressed is that of the author giving it, and not necessarily editorial policy at TopDrawerSoccer.com.
With the start of the college soccer season only weeks away, the annual debate about which stadium is the best in the land is starting to rev up once again. From coast to coast, fans take almost as much pride in the atmosphere surrounding the field than what is being played.
In today’s Round Robin, ESNN’s staff debates: Where is the best (on campus) stadium to watch a college soccer game?
J.R. Eskilson: Over the years, I have been to a number of stadiums (most of them in California), and rarely came away with something negative to say. Whether it is Cal Poly’s cozy, state-of-the art confines or Cal State Northridge’s intimate ‘press box’ location between the benches or UCLA’s historic (albeit outdated) grounds, there is something that stands out from nearly every stadium I’ve visited.
But for my money, UCSB’s Harder Stadium is unmatched.
The obvious choice, of course, but there is something about those nights when the Gaucho Locos descend into the blue and yellow stadium as the fog lifts from the field that is difficult for anywhere else to top. When over 17,000 of the UCSB faithful packed into the stands for a clash against UCLA in 2010, the atmosphere was unlike anything else I’ve seen at a college event. From the expansive field to the colorful cheers, Harder Stadium, to me, is one of the must-see locales for college soccer fans.
Travis Clark: A lot of college soccer games aren't played in the most glamorous of backdrops, but when you visit the right spot, it makes the game experience that much better.
My travels haven't taken me too far away from the East Coast to report on games, but I have always come away from Ludwig Field impressed. Even more so a couple of years ago for a Duke-Maryland game, and as rivalries tend to do, it brought out a big crowd that certainly felt like a professional environment.
Caroline Yort: I don't think you can really top UCSB's stadium, either, so I'll go for the regional best. Having spent years standing on the sidelines for club games, I go for stadiums where a slide tackle might just make you spill your drink. From the Southern viewpoint, Duke's Koskinen Stadium offers the Cameron Indoor atmosphere, but for soccer instead of basketball, especially when the Blue Devils play the Tar Heels. The only drawback is that it's not right in the middle of campus, but fans can practically touch the players on a throw-in, which allows for some major heckling, just as in basketball. The same goes for Furman's Stone Stadium, though on a much smaller scale, but Furman's plus is that it IS smack in the middle of campus. There is no chance that students don't know there's a match being played on any given day or night.
J.R. Eskilson’s final word: Although not mentioned by my revered colleagues Akron’s Cub Cadet Field, UCONN’s Morrone Stadium, and Creighton’s Morrison Field are surely in the conversation of best locations in the nation for a college game. However, UCSB’s Harder Stadium remains the Holy Grail of college stadiums thanks to a die-hard fan base, abundant seating, and a picturesque location.