Ranking the MLS stadiums

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In recent weeks Houston Dynamo and Montreal Impact recently moved into new stadiums further boosting Major League Soccer’s stature as a league.

Right now there are 19 teams in MLS with 18 different stadiums most of which were built specifically for soccer.

Clearly some of the stadiums are better than others and let’s take a look at where all of them stack up with each other. When putting together a ranking, we are not going to consider each team’s support because that’s a different ranking altogether. This just looks at the physical buildings and how they fit into the league.

With that said, here is a ranking of the 18 MLS stadiums.

# 18: Buckshaw Stadium – San Jose Earthquakers

I know this is a temporary fix until the new stadium opens in a year  or so but this is a small-time stadiumready meant for this league with high ambitions

#17: Gillette Stadium – New England Revolution

This football stadium is way too big for the league. It is not designed for soccer and it comes across poorly on television.  The team has no business there.

#16: CenturyLink Field – Seattle Sounders

Seattle does a great job filling up this football stadium week in and week out. In the league’s history, many teams have played in huge places and Seattle does the best job at disguising it. Still, the stadium does not belong to the Sounders, they just play there. The primary tenant will always be the Seahawks.

#15: Crew Stadium – Columbus Crew

In 1998, Crew Stadium was a landmark achievement for the league. It was the first ever American stadium built exclusively soccer. It was the founding father of all soccer stadiums that followed. Just 14 years after it opened, however, it is dated. The stadium consists of bleacher seats and a stage on one end. American fans owe Columbus Crew Stadium a ton of respect even if it not aging well.

#14: JELD-WEN Field – Portland Timbers

The Timber fans have done a great job making their games an amazing atmosphere. That being said, the stadium has been renovated numerous times since its opening in 1926. The atmosphere is great but its an odd place.

#13 – FC Dallas Stadium – FC Dallas

Based well outside of Dallas in Frisco, FC Dallas lacks charm. The stage that was build behind one of the goals is silly and gives the atmosphere an unserious feel.

#12: Dick’s Sporting Good Park – Colorado Rapids

While it is always great to have a soccer-specific stadium, this place has a plain vanilla feel and doesn’t have much character.

#11: BMO Field – Toronto FC

This soccer specific stadium lacks a lot of the polish some of the other stadiums have, but it still gets the job done. It may look like a glorified high school stadium but the sightlines are nice and it can get loud for a big crowd.

#10: RFK Stadium – DC United

While this place can look run down at times but there are few louder stadiums in the world. It shakes when the crowd jumps up and down and it looks great on TV. It’s also the most historic soccer stadium in the United States.

#9: BC Place – Vancouver Whitecaps

Remodeling BC Place has been a nice fit for the league. It’s not new but it is still loud and is a great place to see a soccer game.

#8 Saputo Stadium – Montreal Impact

The brand new Saputo Stadium is nice and is a step up from BMO Field but still lacks some of the finishes that other new stadiums have.

#7: Home Depot Center – LA Galaxy & Chivas USA  

The Home Depot Center is now 10 years old but it has aged nicely during the decade. It is still a nice place to see a game and it comes across well on television. The size is optimal and all seats give a nice view of the field.

#6:  Toyota Park – Chicago Fire

The opening of Toyota Park in 2006 took the benefits of the Home Depot Center even further. The seats are even closer to field and the seats are mostly covered. While it does have a stage, it does not cheapen the experience in the manner of Crew Stadium or FC Dallas Stadium.

#5: Rio Tinto Stadium – Real Salt Lake

Set in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, Rio Tinto Stadium is a fantastic place to see a soccer game and can also bring about an electric atmosphere if the crowd is active. It is very modern and it raised the bar for all American soccer stadiums when it opened in 2008.

#4: PPL Park – Philadelphia Union

Set on the Delaware River, PPL Park is beautiful on both the inside and the outside. On the outside it is a beautiful brick façade and on the inside provides for a great environment. At only 18,000 it is a bit small but still well worth it.

#3: Livestrong Park – Sporting Kansas City

As the Kansas City Wizards they were a forgettable team playing in a huge football stadium followed by a minor league baseball park. But the fantastic Livestrong Park has given rise to a great soccer experience in America’s heartland. It is a first rate stadium that is a true asset to the league.

#2: BBVA Compass Stadium – Houston Dynamo

This brand new stadium is a major investment for the league but its downtown location is truly unique. It is the best stadium in the league for exterior looks and on the inside it is intimate and loud. Every seat seems close to the field.

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)

#1: Red Bull Arena – New York Red Bulls

Red Bull Arena is the crown jewel of the league by far. Every seat is covered and close to the field. It is also slightly bigger at a 25,000 capacity. It truly resembles a modern European stadium that would work well in any league in the world.

3 thoughts on “Ranking the MLS stadiums

  1. There are some pretty exciting grounds to watch a game of soccer at in the United States now. I’ve been to nearly every MLS stadium with the exception of a few and can say the Pacific Northwest is an incredible place for club support. Both Portland and Seattle are fantastic for atmosphere – Portland’s ground is definitely shaped a bit oddly but the atmosphere is intimiate and certainly one of the best, if not the best in the league. On the east coast, the Philly Union supporters do a great job of supporting their team with banners, songs, and what not – especially during “I-95″ derbies. DC United definitely need their own stadium – RFK can be fun to watch a game in because of Barra Brava, but they definitely deserve more than the Redskins former crumbling home.

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  2. BBVA Compass stadium has some great things going for it, but the 2 hours I spent in the Texas sun because they didn’t put a roof around the whole stadium was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in my life. There are so many bizarre short-cuts that I was somewhat disappointed–the traffic flow from walking in, to getting to your seat, and then leaving was poorly designed.
    Inside it’s beautiful, but it lacks the close atmosphere for LiveStrong without the roof. LiveStrong might be in the boonies, but down to the small details, it’s amazing.

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