Earthquakes release seating bowl comparison

As the San Jose Earthquakes continue their drive towards a new stadium for the 2014 MLS season, team President David Kaval has been keen to release little bits of information every so often to tease fans about what they’ll soon be getting. Last fall, a brochure was distributed that showed suite options. Suites subsequently sold out. Now it’s cutaway drawings of the unique (for MLS) seating bowl, which also show some architectural elements that should get Quakes fans talking.

Buck Shaw Stadium, the current home of the Quakes, is small, quaint, and old. The intimate setting there creates a nice home field advantage, but it isn’t the best venue in terms of sight lines and comfort. The pitch of the bleachers is not particularly steep, making it hard to see the action over the heads in front of you.

To remedy that problem, and to create a stadium that didn’t look like other MLS venues, the still-unnamed Earthquakes Stadium will have a single seating deck with a 30° angle. To put that in perspective, that’s slightly steeper than the original upper deck at the Coliseum (~28.5°). With a vertical clearance of around 19 inches from one row to the next, seeing the entire field all the way to the touch lines shouldn’t be a problem. The suites and club seats are located at field level, and the bowl sits above them in a horseshoe shape. The steep seating arrangement will make the bowl rise rapidly, so much that it’ll look bigger than it really is. The comparison document emphasizes how close the first row is to the action, though it should be made clear that what they’re referring to is the first row of the suites or club seats along the sidelines. The supporters sections behind the southern goal should also benefit from being very close to the field.


The Earthquakes’ seating bowl arrangement creates a much smaller footprint stadium, which should be more intimate and less expensive to build.

Other MLS stadia frequently have a 21° pitch, which translates to a 12-inch rise per 33-inch row. That’s steeper than the Coliseum’s very gradually pitched lower deck (11°), and slightly less angled than the plaza level.


Truss system supporting the seating deck also includes a beam that carries the load for the roof, which should result in a less expensive cantilever.

In the cutaway comparisons, it’s easy to see how much smaller the footprint of the stadium will be compared to others throughout the league. Cleverly, the architects at 360 put together a truss system that supports the seating bowl and the roof. They accomplish this by taking an angled beam and extending it through the top row up to the center of the roof. The roof itself covers the entire bowl, which the Quakes say should help contain noise. There is a gap between the top of the bowl and the roof, but I expect that to be filled in by a press box and perhaps additional suites at some point. I haven’t run the numbers to determine the distances yet, but I figure that sitting in the top row at midfield will be similar to the experience of sitting in row 12 of section 217 at the Coliseum for a Raiders game – still a very good seat. Sure, Buck Shaw’s worst seat is technically closer. Buck Shaw is also barely half the size of the new stadium.

Finally, the truss system also creates a façade that juts out over fans as they enter the stadium. The cover image of the document shows a corner of the stadium, not covered by vinyl signs or cladding. Instead, the treatment used is a series of metal ribs that run horizontally. This is a brise soleil, a façade built to provide sun protection while allowing indirect sunlight in. A similar element was built to control sunlight coming into the San Jose City Hall rotunda, which has a large glass dome. Chances are that something – maybe signs – will go up there to give the stadium more color and a distinct image. Even if it doesn’t, the façade is better than chain link or overdone glass curtainwall. It’s unlikely that many of the elements in use for the Earthquakes Stadium would make it to an A’s ballpark, simply because the viewing angles are less demanding for baseball than for soccer. That’s just as well, because it’ll be good to have a unique look for a stadium that no one else has besides the Quakes.

11 thoughts on “Earthquakes release seating bowl comparison

  1. Definitely going to be a unique MLS stadium. But I’m reserving judgement until I see it regarding the placement of the suites and the fact that the common fan has been so removed from the area near the field up to what is essentially a large second deck. That said at least said second deck is very menacingly pitched and still as close to the field as the first deck is at Home Depot Center.

  2. It’s insane how similar the other stadiums all appear compared to the San Jose one. I’d imagine that the Earthquakes think of this as a trail blazing opportunity.
    Premium Seating right up against the field is something I expect to see in many, many new venues (I’d expect it in a new Warriors joint)

  3. I’m not worried about being removed from the field. I sat in the 2nd row behind the Field Level Club section at Toyota Park and wished I was higher up/farther back. This seems perfect to me.

  4. I have alwasy been a “second deck” kind of guy

  5. Consider that the first row of the main seating bowl at the Epicenter is roughly the same height as the first row at Cowboys Stadium.

    If the A’s wanted to carry the field suite concept to Cisco Field, there’s probably enough space between the dugouts for 8-10 suites, or 18-20 minisuites (~150 linear feet along the backstop).

  6. Agree with Mark and Jeffrey,
    I once sat in the front row of the Mt. Davis side for a Raiders game. Didn’t like that the only movement I could see was side to side. From higher up I liked that I could actually see plays developing, who was open, angles players were taking, etc.

  7. At most the matches I’ve seen in England, the first couple rows (if even sold) are some of the least desirable seats. Row 40 >> Row 1, the low seats (sometimes near eye level with a raised pitch) are left for the tourists. Except at a huge place like Old Trafford, where the distant seats are really, really bad.

  8. Imagine how outdated dreary the Coliseum will feel once the 49ers and Earthquakes open their new homes…

  9. For american football, I really like sitting in the end zone, second deck. It reminds me of watching film of the games my team played in high school. It’s fun to watch it develop.
    I have only been to a handful of soccer/real football games. I have found that I enjoy sitting up high, as close to midfield as possible. This is the angle I feel like I can see the game unfold from the easiest.
    For baseball, I really like sitting in section 218 at the Oakland Coliseum.

  10. I walked up to a game in Athens where olympikaos plays, I was surprised there were tickets available and very inexpensive.

    My biggest surprise was they were in the front row of the corner of the field. But like stated above for soccer and football if you are at field level hard to see what is going on.

    @Mark now it make sense! lol…front rows left for tourists, not very good seats.

  11. “The supporters sections behind the southern goal should also benefit from being very close to the field.”

    the only problem is they made it wayyy too small, so the supporters groups are going to occupy the larger sections above it.

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