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Buck Shaw Stadium

Santa Clara, CA

Home of the San Jose Earthquakes

2.9

N/A

Buck Shaw Stadium (map it)
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053


San Jose Earthquakes website

Buck Shaw Stadium website

Year Opened: 1962

Capacity: 10,300

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Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium

The San Jose Earthquakes make their home at Santa Clara University's Buck Shaw Stadium, next door to the Leavey Center . They have played there since the newest version of the Quakes returned to Major League Soccer for the 2008 season. Previous incarnations of the franchise have played their games at San Jose State University's Spartan Stadium but negotiations between the school and the franchise fell through and Buck Shaw was the most reasonable alternative.

Buck Shaw is also the home to the Santa Clara Broncos soccer teams and is the former home of the defunct Bronco football team. It is the smallest venue in MLS with a capacity of only 10,300, a far cry from their former home at Spartan Stadium. That being said, it's a lively crew that doesn't feel or sound like the smallest crowd in MLS. The Earthquakes, their employees and their fans do the best to create a professional franchise vibe in a venue not suited for a longtime legitimate professional franchise.

The organization knows they can fill a stadium much larger than the one they currently occupy. Earlier in July they had an attendance over 41,000 for a Saturday night game against the New York Red Bulls at nearby Stanford Stadium. Even prior to this franchise-record-setting crowd, the Earthquakes were in the process of developing an area near San Jose International Airport, two miles from HP Pavilion, for a soccer-specific stadium. As of late June 2011 they have cleared the 65-acre area and are prepared to start building, with a 2013 open anticipated.

2.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

As mentioned above, the Earthquakes organization does their best to improve the things they have control over. Capitalizing on the Bay Area's infatuation with gourmet on wheels, they have third-party food trucks lining two different areas of the stadium near the more typical concession stands. Taco trucks, BBQ trucks and even cupcake trucks are available alongside hot dogs, nachos and peanuts.

They have specialty items named after players sure to inspire purchase with Wondo's BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich ($7), Convey's Carved Meat Bowl ($10), and Ampai's Thai Chicken Sandwich ($8). The typical fare is priced a little lower with popcorn, peanuts and churros at $3, hot dogs at $4, nachos at $5, fountain sodas at $3-$5, Budweiser products at $5 and craft beer at $7.

Atmosphere    3

Though the stadium is small, the Earthquakes benefit from consistently having a full or nearly-full house. This allows for an intimate atmosphere with fans close to the field. The low capacity venue as well as the activities allow for a kid-friendly environment. Kid-favorites include activities at the "Epicenter" and visits from the mascot "Q".

The main supporter's section is behind the west goal and is occupied by two main groups, the 1906 Ultras and The Casbah (taking their name from the original MLS club name, Clash). This section can be entertainment on its own as they have songs, chants and flags to support their team. They stand the entire game and try to keep the energy level high even during particularly slow periods of play. They are especially rowdy when the visiting team is defending the goal in front of them, as they cause as much distraction for opposing players as possible.

With the influx of teams in the Pacific Northwest of the country we've been exposed to some pretty intense and passionate crowds. The atmosphere at a Quakes game does not compare to that, though it can still be a very fun and entertaining experience, especially as the small venue allows for an up-close and personal view of the action.

Neighborhood    3

Santa Clara University is located in a suburban neighborhood outside of San Jose. The immediate neighborhood is college-centric with good bars and restaurants nearby where you can grub with a group or spend a night with a date.

Smoke-Eaters typifies the student-style sports bar. It was featured on Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food" for its Hellfire Challenge (12 Hellfire Wingers, 10 minutes, 5 minutes of "after burn", no napkins, no drinks) and is crowded every evening but particularly for Santa Clara and San Jose Earthquake games. This is a good place to share a pitcher or grab a bite to eat before the game since there are dozens of hi-def televisions showing other sporting events. It gets a gold star for a solid selection of craft beers in its arsenal.

There are places to stop by for a sandwich or a slice of pizza in the neighborhood as these options may be cheaper (and sometimes better) than the ones in the venue. You can grab beer on nearby Franklin Street at the Bronco Hut or a bite at Mondo Burrito.

Aside from the options available the neighborhood is clean, safe and beautiful. This student-focused, somewhat upscale neighborhood is a nice place to explore before or after the game. It's a little bit of a sleepy town with most of the nightlife happening in San Jose.

Fans    4

Fans of the Earthquakes range in age from kids to those who rooted for the NASL team by the same name and who tell stories of George Best, who spent a few years with the Earthquakes after making 361 appearances with the EPL's Manchester United .

The fans are really who prevent this venue from being as depressing as it could be. The structure itself is underwhelming but their attitude and commitment allows for a solid buzz. Though many were disenchanted after the previous version moved to Houston, they seem to be back and better than ever to support the Quakes and push them into the future as they capitalize on the vibrant new landscape of Major League Soccer.

Access    2

The campus is located between three major freeways: 101, 880 and 280. All of these allow easy access to surface roads leading to campus. These surface roads are well maintained and easy to navigate, even if it's your first time in the area. The major parking lots for Buck Shaw Stadium are located right off the El Camino Real and are easy to get in and out of. Trying to avoid paying for parking? Street parking is just as easy, just watch for signs prohibiting parking on certain streets.

The Santa Clara Caltrain Station is located right across El Camino Real and is serviced by trains from San Jose to the south and San Francisco to the north. A ride from San Jose is less than ten minutes and a ride from San Francisco is between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on which train you take.

The problem with Buck Shaw is the inevitable crowded nature of the staircases and walkways. It can take quite a while to leave the stadium after the game as 10,000 people must share four narrow stair cases.

Getting to your seat is no easier as each individual section seem too large with some rows over 30 seats wide. This makes climbing over other patrons to reach your seat a regular occurrence throughout the game. Accessing the restrooms is no easier as only a few toilets are available for each gender. They have tried to soothe this issue by adding additional portable toilets behind the south grandstand.

If there was one glaring problem with housing a professional franchise here it is the accessibility within the grounds.

Return on Investment    3

Ticket prices range from $20 on the end lines to $50 at midfield for single-game tickets. There looked to be club-like sections along the south touch line that I don't believe are listed in the single-game ticket area. If you follow the Earthquakes in any of their social media mediums you'll be clued in to even cheaper ticket opportunities.

MLS has improved in recent years with the influx of international talent, albeit aging at times. This alone creates a commodity in attending an MLS match and at an affordable price. The notion of seeing Thierry Henry or David Beckham for $20 is nothing to scoff at. Hopefully the increase of talent will eventually lead to the elevated stature of the league in relation to the rest of the world. If this occurs and ticket prices stay reasonable and franchises continue to be community-focused, the MLS could be quite a bargain.

Extras    1

There isn't much in the way of historical value at Buck Shaw stadium so there won't be anything riveting there. They have a couple players in their Hall of Fame, Ronald Cerritos and John Doyle, as well as two banners displaying the MLS championships from 2001 and 2003.

The mascot and the Shakers Squad throw t-shirts into the stands and there is a halftime game between two local youth teams. This game embodies the Quakes commitment to the area as they also hold soccer camps for youth in the area.

Lastly, there is a walkway that runs adjacent to the "Epicenter" where the players and coaches pass through on their way to the field. Fans can get an up-close look at their favorite players by hanging near the guardrails.

Final Thoughts

This is a fine place to watch a quality MLS match but beyond that there isn't anything to write home about. However, the passion of the fans and the support from the community, have one envisioning really positive things for their new home, with a planned unveiling in 2013.

Yorder

I forgot to mention this in the review but if you have an iPhone (and perhaps other smartphones, I'm not sure) you can download the free Yorder app that allows you to order and pay for concessions from your seat and someone will deliver them to you. This goes for food, beverages and Earthquakes merchandise and I believe you would use a paypal account or a credit card to pay. Apparently the Earthquakes were the very first stadium to use Yorder and it's still in the testing stage. It could be a good way to avoid the aforementioned access issues around the stadium.

by ryannorris | Aug 04, 2011 09:18 PM

New Stadium

Here's a photo set of what the new stadium will look like:

http://www.flickr.com//photos/55821110@N02/sets/72157628197981915/show/

by ryannorris | Dec 29, 2011 11:35 PM

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Local Food & Drink

SmokeEaters  (map it!)

2565 The Alameda

Santa Clara, CA 95050

(408) 241-2582

http://smoke-eaters.com/

The Bronco Hut  (map it!)

3200 The Alameda

Santa Clara, CA 95050

(408) 296-8934

http://www.facebook.com/people/Bronco-Hut/1815117976

Mondo Burrito  (map it!)

3300 The Alameda

Santa Clara, CA 95050

(408) 260-9596

http://www.mondoburrito.com/

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