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Is the next phase of MLS stadium development upon us?

Apr 26, 2013, 6:36 PM EDT

Houston Dynamo v Philadelphia Union - 1st Leg Getty Images

We may have only recently arrived at a place where Major League Soccer’s facility situation has reached long-desired stability, but it looks like the next phase in venue development may already be upon us.

It was just 10 years ago that Major League Soccer was still a league of renters, with precious few clubs that had a building to call their very own. In fact, exactly 10 years ago, Crew Stadium in Columbus was the one and only. (The Galaxy’s Home Depot Center opened in June of 2003.)

So in a relatively short amount of time, Major League Soccer’s facility situation has improved enormously. Sixteen of 19 teams perform in facilities build or remodeled specifically for Major League Soccer, the degree to which that has added stability and stature cannot possibly be overstated.

Most of the grounds are of the 20,000-seat variety, which has always been about right. As each structure was pieced together or refurbished over the last 10 years, the planning typically included ability to expand – although that need for “more” always seemed to be in some far-away, distant future.

But is it so far away?

Today comes word that Philadelphia is thinking about expansion. The details are here, courtesy of the Philadelphia Business Journal, but the long and short is that the Union could use more seats and certainly more of those revenue-generating suites at PPL Park.

Not every club is ready to begin thinking “more,” but a few could fill stand to add some seats and suites – and isn’t that something else?

  1. bobinkc - Apr 26, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Steve, consider that with most building projects tied to something, anything, that is growing about 8 to 12 years is the norm for a first expansion project (unless, of course, the original project was horribly underbuilt). Anything under 8 years and you have to consider shortsightedness on the part of management. Anything over 12 years and you need to look at initial overbuilding.

    The main thing is to provide for the capability to expand without completely rebuilding the facility. Having to completely rebuild is another form of managerial shortsightedness that will cripple any organization from the get-go. Hopefully Philly is in the front of the pack in this respect.

  2. ll8078 - Apr 27, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    Union aren’t that sustainable to do much other than build a couple more suites. Still plenty of empty seats every week and it’s a team playing fairly well. end of last year was a ghost-town at PPL and the only expansion past suites that makes sense would be 15-20$ seats opposite of the Sons of Ben or the actual SOB section, expensive midfield seats always go unsold but the ends stay fairly sold-out.

    People still aren’t convinced to pay $50+ to watch an MLS game, and I have had no problem paying $15-20 to get into PPL weekly. It’s not like your in the last row in the corner at Wembley in any MLS stadium.

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