Another year, another soccer-specific stadium opens with great fanfare and expectation. This time, it was a sea of Orange in downtown Houston that embraced a sparkling new venue, as they witnessed their beloved Dynamo open their home campaign successfully.
BBVA Compass Stadium has added itself as another jewel of the US soccer-specific stadium (SSS) realm, joining other dandies like Livestrong Sporting Park, Red Bull Arena and the Home Depot Center. So instead of paying rent to an existing NFL or College Football team, in this case the Dynamo will be earning the rent money from a local college.
The one thing they did right was plaster tons of posters of significant players and coaches that have been a part of those two MLS Cup trophies campaigns, after the club relocated from San Jose. Fans were able to relive those glory days with former players like Dwayne DeRosario and Pat Onstad, while also celebrating current players like Brian Ching and Brad Davis.
But of course the best thing about the opening match of BBVA Compass Stadium was the home side getting their first goal and first win at their new home. In the 67th minute a wonderful left footed blast from 25yds out by Brad Davis beat Bill Hamid for the crucial tally.
After Davis struck his beauty, he headed to the far corner and celebrated the venue’s first goal with the supporters. He received a nice pass from Andre Hainault and while he gave a touch on the ball, it was a nice turn around and then the shot. Hamid did get a touch, but it wasn’t enough to stop it.
Being a fan of this league since 1996 the main question was always how long the sport would survive using stadiums made for the NFL and college football. It would be a man with the notion to build a stadium designed to showcase soccer. That was Lamar Hunt, and he constructed Columbus Crew Stadium in 1999.
Since then the league has seen nine stadiums (soon to be ten with San Jose) built, one refurbished in Portland, while Stade Saputo in Montreal is going thru a facelift and capacity expansion. Yes Seattle has shown success with sharing Century Link Field with the Seattle Seahawks, but there are still problems such as an artificial field rather than a grass pitch.
Two charter members of MLS remain in the category of using stadiums that are not ideal for soccer. D.C. United, a four-time league champion, was handed the loss in Saturday’s match. They were forced to witness another franchise earn a new stadium while they toil away in an antique stadium without quality endline seating. The other is a New England side that plays its home matches in Gillette Stadium, far away from the metropolitan Boston area. This will not be an issue for BBVA Compass Stadium, situated smack-dab in downtown Houston, only blocks from both the Astros’ Minute Maid Park and the Rockets’ Toyota Center.
So let’s give a hand to those in the city of Houston who finally got their new stadium. The Dynamo following deserved a replacement for Robertson Stadium, and here’s hoping that fan-base sees quick growth with the new digs. Let’s also say congratulations to US Soccer, which has another new venue to showcase the National teams.
I hope in this current World Cup cycle that BBVA Compass Stadium will be used for Qualifying, either this coming October or in the Hexagonal if our national team qualifies for it. It looks fantastic, and as always, it’s American.