It all started back in 1999 when the Columbus Crew took a gamble and built the long awaited Columbus Crew Stadium. It was the first soccer specific stadium built for the MLS and was a milestone for American soccer. This stadium led to a domino affect around the league as other teams started rolling out bigger and better stadiums that continue to impress fans.
The most recent additions include BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston and Livestrong Park in Kansas City. These breathtaking stadiums are cornerstones for the league and provide fans with an unbelievable experience filled with top-notch game presentations, concessions, and amenities that rivals other major sports facilities.
The importance of the stadiums go far beyond the aesthetically pleasing look they possess. These brand new stadiums showcase the MLS’s growth from its infancy to where it is today. The transition from old football stadiums to world-class soccer-specific stadiums indicates that the MLS is slowly but surely etching itself a niche in the American market and is making a conscious effort to provide the best fan experience possible.
The American consumer tastes of sporting events are always evolving. Every league in the United States finds itself trying to figure out the best ways possible to service its fans. The modern fan wants excitement on the field, but also wants a nice place to grab some food and socialize with friends. In the newer MLS stadiums such as Livestrong Park, you are finding these amenities, concessions, and experiences present. These upgrades to the atmosphere and presentation of the soccer brand are paying dividends for the franchise and the league.
Newer facilities also provide greater revenue streams that allow MLS franchises to monetize different assets not available before. Sponsorship sales increase with the different and more prominent avenues in delivering their message. Increased suite and club level seating allow franchises to have a higher return on these more premium seats. New stadium designs allow for greater viewing angles and a better fan experience. More upscale concessions allow for a greater markup and make more money for teams.
Going forward, it is important for MLS franchises to continue to invest in themselves, their players, and the league. A concerted effort on all fronts will pay great dividends for the leagues in terms of TV contracts, sponsorships, and expansions which will not only benefit the league but also the individual teams. Soccer is on the rise in America and believe it or not more changes are coming. By making strategic steps forward the MLS will continue to position itself as a top league in the United States.