Happy Opening Day, Earthquakes

Sure, they did a dry run a few weeks ago with a 10,000-strong crowd, but this was to be the test. Opening match at Avaya Stadium, full house, new infrastructure in place, systems tested to the fullest. The Quakes scored two quick goals and then held on for dear life, 2-1 over the Chicago Fire. The fans were ebullient, raving about the home they’ve wanted and deserved for more than 40 years.

I asked about how people were doing with with transit or parking. Some of the feedback:

All in all, it seemed as if the team, the fans, and the league got everything they wanted out of the experience. A privately funded stadium with great amenities, but not done in a way that would take the focus away from the game.

The original vision for the stadium, unveiled during the throes of the recession, had no club seats or suites. The horseshoe-shaped bowl was the same, including the huge double-sided scoreboard at the open end. As the economy improved and the team reached out to the community, there was interest for luxury seating options, though in implementation they weren’t like those at other stadiums. The result is a tight seating bowl configuration with a steep rake, allowing for great sightlines. An extensive roof over the bowl provides ample shade and holds in noise. And the price tag rose from $60 million to $100 million. About $10 million will be paid for by real estate sales in South San Jose. It’s a refreshing example of restraint that somehow comes without a great deal of compromise. Even Don Garber, the MLS commissioner who approved the previous Quakes incarnation’s move to Houston, understood:

“Not every stadium’s got to be several hundred million dollars. It’s actually got to have them built in a way where the economic model makes sense. That’s what we have here.”

The biggest issue going forward is the fact that there’s no room to accommodate an expansion. There’s always Levi’s and Stanford for the bigger crowds. For decades to come, this is home. It’s something to be proud of, no need to make any apologies. I suspect Quakes fans will be savoring it for some time to come, sellout after sellout.

P.S. – The USGS, which has an office in Menlo Park, set up a seismograph at the stadium.

15 thoughts on “Happy Opening Day, Earthquakes

  1. re: expansion. I thought that the open end of the stadium, where the scoreboard is, could be converted to new seating if demand is ever there? (I hope they leave it as is. I see that place pretty much everyday and plan to get tix to a game as soon as I can.) Wonder if nearby Lowe’s and Costco (two of the big box vendors that helped killed the A’s Fremont plans, correct, are having any issues with fans using their parking?

    • Lowe’s and the other businesses in that center have a crew of 6 screening cars, marking tires and working with the towing crews. Costco is a pretty long walk.

      The stadium is fantastic, so many things they did right. Talk of expansion is premature too be sure. But they can easily sell 500-1000 SRO tickets as is–how hard is it to get the permitted occupancy raised from 18k on an existing facility?

      For now, they sell 50 GA tix every Friday, check their website for the Modelo deal.

  2. RM,
    Re possible expansion, couldn’t they completely close in Avaya on the airport side? Would probably mean loosing the bar and placing the scoreboard elsewhere.

    • Even if they did that they’d get to 23-24,000 seats. I think if they want to expand, it would be to a much larger capacity, maybe 30-35,000 seats. That’s probably well down the road. Besides, after you enclose the stadium there’s no place to put the scoreboard.

      • In the future they could always go high tech with scoreboard placement; thinking CRAZY, large center hung scoreboard like Dallas’ AT&T Stadium. Obviously support towers would need to be built and their could be issues with shadows. Again, just a crazy thought..

      • One game in and we’re talking expansion! Love it! Of course, I thought about this too and I figured they could leave the bar/scoreboard in place and add seats on either side. It would be the opposite of the Hawk’s Nest at CenturyLink Field.
        Also, if I were a Quakes player and scored at the open end, I’d run up the stairs and take a seat at the bar…yellow card be damned.

      • Love your idea Mark! In the future of course, extend grandstand to the sides of the bar/scoreboard. At least get the stadium up to 20K capacity, which seems to be the standard for most SSS’s. I believe Avaya is the smallest SSS in all of MLS (can anyone confirm?).

        RM or anyone, are standing room only tickets available for games? For my first time out my family/friends want to hang out and wander around, all while taking full advantage of “LOBINA”!

  3. Was at the game yesterday- incredible atmosphere before and during the game. They have a series of food trucks by the large bar so you can “tailgate” inside the stadium- great idea and made it very festive from the moment the gates opened at 2. Sight lines are unbelievably good from all angles. What stood out most is without all the club seats and other frills that Levi’s offers people actually stay in their seats and watch the game. That’s what creates the atmosphere of a stadium. I hate to say it because I feel that Levi’s is a beautiful stadium it just doesn’t have any atmosphere. They could hve learns from LW as to the important aspects of a stadium- and I am sure wherever LW is able to build for the A’s that many of these same elements of the EQ stadium will be included.

    • For a downtown SJ ballpark I’d like to see Avaya’s grandstand “rake” for the second deck. Coupled with old school support columns and folks sitting on the upper deck would be right on top of the action like Avaya. Would also help with sight constraints of a downtown yard. Second deck canopy like Avaya, as well as field suites along one of the base lines, could also be incorporated.

  4. All of the pictures I have seen from inside the place make it look outstanding. Can’t wait to hit a game.

  5. well with what we’ve seen from the wolff in regards to building avaya stadium and how they completely refurnished the former chc spring training complex/stadium down in mesa, you can expect a top level baseball venue eventually for the a’s wherever it gets built hopefully sometime in the next decade be it in sj or oak.

  6. RE expansion – Stadium was built out to 18K to allay neighborhood concerns about noise…in a neighborhood adjacent to an international airport, a couple of blocks from an interstate freeway, and right smack-dab next to the SPRR mainline. /eyeroll

    Anyhoo, the plan is to expand in three or four years by rounding off the horseshoe up to the bar area. This would top out capacity at 21K or so, which is appropriate. Games against the Galactofilth can probably be moved up to Stanford.

    One other thing for you high school foobaw fans – maybe now the CCS championship games can be not played at SJCC. Possibility of the CIF state bowls in SJ are now in play as well.

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