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Official Review by Dennis Morrell, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Pro soccer in San Jose began in 1974 with the NASL Earthquakes rumbling across the turf. After several seasons in different leagues and under different names and even on hiatus for a stretch of time, the franchise is now on good footing.
In just their second season at their new home, Avaya Stadium, the club boasts one of the finest venues in all of Major League Soccer. But it is not just creativity in the design and construction of the venue which makes attending a game here so special. It is the effort and ingenuity of the club and its’ employees which make witnessing a game so worthwhile.
To enhance your visit, be sure to download the Avaya Stadium smartphone app before attending the game and sign-up to take advantage of all the features. And count on the WiFi enabled complex to provide reliable service throughout your visit.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
If you want it, they likely have it at Avaya Stadium. Variety is one thing, but the manner in which food and drink are offered, adds to the experience. All stadiums have concession stands, but not many have a convoy of food trucks, invited to the 7-Up epicenter on game day, just for the pleasure of fans. 12 to 14 food trucks line up on the perimeter of the two-acre grassy area, just behind the massive scoreboard.
And no other venue in all of North America can boast the longest outdoor bar at over 300 feet long. Avaya owns this distinction at the northeast end of the field. At first look, you'll just stand and stare at it, up and down. The app shows an updated beer and drink list which changes each game.
Inside the stadium, even the most particular consumer will find satisfaction.
The stadium features 7-up, RC Cola, A&W Root Beer and Ginger Ale soft drinks at $6 for a 20 oz. bottle. Water is $4.50.
Beer is $6 for a small draft, $10 for a large with premium large beer at $12.25. Beers of the World can be found at the south end outside section 117; a choice here can be had beginning at $10.
For entrees, a hot dog or order of nachos is $6. Sandwiches like beef brisket, pulled pork and rib tips are $11. Pretzels are $6; add a cup of cheese for another $2.25. Chips and candy are $3.
It starts hours before kick-off, in the parking lot where there is tailgating four hours before kick-off. Youth soccer teams often come in groups and congregate near the entrance.
As you consider where to sit, know the field runs southwest to northeast. The northeast end is where the airport, food trucks and world's longest bar are situated.
Benches are in front of section 106 on the northwest sideline with the home bench south of the line in front of section 105 while the visitors occupy the bench in front of section 107. Both teams enter the pitch from their respective dressing rooms in front of section 106. Also on the northwest sideline are the team's retired numbers, championships across all leagues and the press box at the top of the one-level bowl.
At the southwest end, at section 117 and 118 behind the goal, a digital scoreboard shows the current players on the pitch by number, name and position.
The southeast sideline gives the best view of the benches, but fans might have trouble looking into the sun at the early part of evening games. Still, these seats offer great view of the quick transition on the pitch as your seat gives you the sensation of being right on top of the field.
At the northeast goal, there is one row of seats followed by three rows of high tables and then a final ledge for standing room. This might be the best place to watch the game. The dominating video screen and world's longest bar separates this area from the food truck area. It makes for a cozy area to watch the game, but with plenty of flexibility to move around a bit.
If you get there early enough, you can see the seating pattern of the stadium is in three different shades of blue with a sprinkling of red at the south end in an effort to honor the team's NASL heritage when their iconic red and black cracked soccer ball logo was the team's crest.
Concourses are wide and comfortable. You will not find as much clutter with mobile food and drink carts as you might think. That is more reserved for the 7-Up epicenter.
If there is one low score, this might be it, but in time this will change. Other than the In 'N' Out burger just to the south of the stadium in a strip mall there is not much around. The airport is to the northeast and serves as a clever backdrop to the open end of the complex.
Parking on the south edge is currently on dirt lots. This will change in time as development continues, but for now, you go there for one thing, pro soccer.
Fervent and involved is the best way to describe this loyal group. Ranking 11th among MLS's 20 teams with an average attendance of 19,930, the team drew great numbers the entire 2016 season even though they rarely challenged for a playoff spot at any point during the season. It is clear that the work the club does to enhance the experience is working.
While thousands come on their own, there are several groups who assemble, all at the southeast goal. These fan groups are unique.
The San Jose Ultras are hardcore supporters of the Earthquakes with a goal of bringing the passion of the world's greatest clubs and fans to Avaya Stadium. You'll find them standing, singing, and drumming in Sections 117 and 118 each game.
In the area behind the south goal closest to the field in a standing room area supported with railings, there are three other fan groups, each with their unique spin on supporting the Earthquakes.
The Casbah is the traditional supporters' group dating back to the MLS franchise's inception in 1996. From their north end zone habitat, Casbah denizens enjoy themselves immensely while providing terrific atmosphere for the entire stadium through their songs, chants, cheers and drumbeats. Everyone is welcome, provided you are willing to stand and give your full voice for the Quakes.
The Faultline is a new supporters group whose mission is to support the San Jose Earthquakes as a united group with devotion, passion, and respect, regardless of the on-field result. They sing and chant for all 90 minutes.
Imperico Sismico is the first Latino support group to have a voice and scream together "Vamos Teremotos!" (Go Quakes!) The passion of Futbol runs in their blood. They create an environment from their distinctive Latino heritage and bring it to Earthquakes games, tailgates and events.
Fans arriving by car face the hassle of getting in and out of the lot and pay $25. The congestion is incredible and while you can get there as early as four hours before kick-off, it is the getting out that will cause you to pull the hair out of your head.
The lot behind the stadium fills first with a few other nearby lots to the northwest prepaid pass only. If you miss the lot to the southwest of the stadium, your walk from the other parking lots will be two to three times the distance.
And if you think of trying to avoid paying the parking fee and find a spot at the shopping center to the southeast, forget it There are people watching for this.
The bus is the better option and how I arrived. If staying near the airport, find the Airport Flyer, also known as VTA Bus #10. If staying in San Jose, take VTA Bus #321 for just $2 each way. It runs two hours before game time and as late as one after the game ends. Pick-up your bus at game's end along Earthquake Way, on the northwest side of the stadium.
Now the balance of price and where to experience the live match from is always a challenge when determining where to sit. Finding that sweet spot is not easy.
Face value for a northeast end zone seat is $28, providing flexibility and freedom in the open, a straight on view of play coming toward you and a clear view of the north goal. The world's longest bar is right behind you, you are close to the entrance/exit and food truck area. However, you will not see the replays unless you turn around look straight up, the airport backdrop will be lost, which is quite neat.
If you like a seat up high or down low on the corner of the southwest end, consider section 121 where a seat in rows 2-5 is $33 face value or rows 6-26 at $30. Here you get a good view of the benches, near goal to your left with fan groups behind it, view of video screen and airport backdrop are largely blocked from the falling sun due to opposite corner overhang.
Another choice is the first row in 129 on the center line for $61. Step back into row 2 and it drops to $44 face value. Here you get a view of the benches, both goals are equal distance from you, but perhaps the best feature, particularly if you are in the first row is the sensation of being pretty much on top of the field. There are field suites below you which are on three sides of the pitch. The sight lines here are magnificent.
Lastly, consider the only sideline suites in MLS providing food and drink in a comfortable atmosphere. When you want to jump closer to the action, walk to the fixed seating area for your suite, just feet from the chalk line. Prices vary and accommodations are for 20 to 100.
This popular team draws, no matter what their record on the field. Averaging nearly 20,000 per game, the market dictates the price. Still, you can find a good seat at a fair price, Take a bus to the game to save money on getting there and back and choose a food truck to save a few more bucks on nourishment. Concession prices within the stadium stands are a little steep.
GAME PROGRAM - free on the way in and packed full of all you need to be informed about the home team and their opponent. 7" x 9" size makes it perfect and a nice souvenir to take home from the match.
MERCHANDISE - plentiful and in all price ranges, there is nothing you could want that you could not find. On the night I attended, they had a promotion where the combined goals on the road and that against at home yielded a number that ended up being the percentage off all merchandise. At end of year, they were trying to move product so as to not be stuck with it in the off season.
AVAYA STADIUM PERSONNEL - at every turn, you will find the most friendly people whether they are ushers, concession workers, media personnel or security. They understand what it means to uphold an image and customer-focus brand.
Before attending a game at Avaya Stadium, I had read it was a special place. The steep pitch in the seats, the spectacular sight lines and the creative touches make witnessing a game here uniquely special. Make sure to arrive early and soak in the experience.
Member Review by ryannorris on Apr 21, 2015
Avaya Stadium opened on March 22, 2015 and became the fifteenth soccer-specific stadium in MLS (BC Place was renovated for both soccer and Canadian football). Major League Soccer doesn’t want to stop here though as new stadiums are planned for Orlando City SC in 2016 and D.C. United in 2017. Other teams looking to find a new place but with no official plans at this time are New York City FC and New England Revolution.
Avaya Stadium is a $100 million dollar privately-financed facility adjacent to the San Jose International Airport. Already a top event destination, Avaya will host the United States Women’s National Team against the Republic of Ireland and matches in the 2015 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup.
The Earthquakes have a history with MLS that stretches back to its very first match. Then named the Clash, San Jose defeated D.C. United at Spartan Stadium in MLS’ inaugural match.
The Quakes have had two previous homes in the South Bay. From 1996 to 2005, they played at Spartan Stadium on the campus of San Jose State University. In 2006, the team moved to Houston to become the Dynamo. Retaining the Quakes moniker, pro soccer returned to the region in 2008 when the Quakes began play at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University. They played at Buck Shaw until Avaya Stadium opened in 2015.
The Earthquakes have achieved success in the forms of two MLS Cups (2001 and 2003) and two Supporters Shields (2005 and 2012). Their most notable former players would likely be Eric Wynalda and Landon Donovan.
75 E Santa Clara St
San Jose, CA 95113
173 W Santa Clara St
San Jose, CA 95113
201 S Market St
San Jose, CA 95113
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