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Stadium development advances, now heavier in lower tiers

Apr 19, 2013, 11:20 AM EST

Highmark Stadium

Stadium development was Major League Soccer’s top development initiative for more than a decade. With the facility element more or less in place now – yes, a couple of sticky exceptions persist – MLS development priorities are shifting.

But the domestic game’s facility initiative moves forward, with an increasing number of second- and –third tier professional organizations now gaining ground on the hunt for proper grounds.

From The Shin Guardian, here is a great first-person account, layered with fantastic context, on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds newly opened grounds.

The club’s former, prolonged facility chase looks so familiar to anyone who has seen the lower-tier clubs bounce around between like vagrants between high school stadiums, Spartan public facilities, ill-fitting football stadiums, small college grounds or retro-fitted minor league baseball grounds.

Well, the Riverhounds’ new Highmark Stadium, with picturesque views of downtown just across the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh is no temporary stop. The place (pictured above in development) looks spectacular.

(MORE on stadiums: Orlando buys $8.2M parcel and unveils soccer stadium plans)

The facility opened just a week after the San Antonio Scorpions debuted inside their own new ground, the 8,000-seat Toyota Field.

This is the grass-roots stuff that remains so important for soccer’s ongoing development in the United States. This is the brick and mortar permanence that the professional game has often lacked. As the piece from Shin Guardian put it:

This was an important night not just for Pittsburgh, but for all of US Soccer. Soccer specific stadiums give the beautiful game a validity and presence that gets the attention of those who, like many Pittsurghers, traditionally forget about the sport, and a permanence for locals who love it, like the Steel Army and the droves of multicultural supporters in San Antonio.

  1. derekjetersmansion - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Also, you can probably add capacity to these places too in the future. which is kind of like what happened in europe in the early 20 century. adding new stands and stuff.

    • Steve Davis - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      That’s a great point. In the Riverhounds’ case, they purposely did not add stands on one side because they didn’t want to subtract views of downtown across the river. But behind the goals … that seems fair game.

      • SD1 Timbers Special Forces - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:27 PM

        I’ve got say that stadium view is probably the most impressive in all of N. America. They just need to raise the fence on the river side to keep balls out of the river.

        This really captures the view.

    • Steve Davis - Apr 20, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      Well, that IS a nice view. But raise the fence? Nah … just get a little rowboat crew to go pluck balls from the river. Sponsorship opportunity, I would say!

  2. genebrooklyn - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Here are some great shots of the San Antonio Scorpions’ Toyota Field.

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/scorpions/article/Scorpions-finally-have-their-8-000-seat-field-of-4429684.php#photo-4461498

  3. charliej11 - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    US soccer is alive and kicking. I would love to see a top league of 40-50 teams before I die.
    That would have been laughed at 10 years ago…and probably 6 years ago.

  4. jpan007 - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    keep up the good work

  5. valiantdraws - Apr 19, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Charliej11…I’ve been missing your semi-bat shit/out of touch ideas on here. Hehe. Jokes man.

    But, 40-50 teams? No way.

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