No matter what the sport, same sport teams who share the same city and venue are constantly compared and contrasted. Giants/Jets of MetLife Stadium in New York and Lakers/Clippers of Staples Center in Los Angeles come to mind with one always being held in higher regard than the other. The same is true in Major League Soccer with the two teams who call the Los Angeles area home.
Although the experience places second in a race of only two, you will enjoy your time at the Home Depot Center as you get caught up in euphoria of Chivas USA soccer.
Club Deportivo Chivas USA became the eleventh MLS team upon their expansion into the league in 2004. The club is viewed as the brother club to Guadalajara, one of the most widely supported and successful teams in Mexico. Chivas means "goats” and is the moniker of CD Guadalajara. The club has enjoyed success during their tenure, but lately seem to be undergoing a rebuilding process playing second-fiddle to the more prominent and successful LA Galaxy club.
When Chivas USA entered Major League Soccer in Southern California, their same-city foe, the LA Galaxy had been in the market for 10 years, a decade of time to establish a footprint in the market. The Galaxy called the Rose Bowl in Pasadena their home from 1995-2003 until the opening of the Home Depot Center in 2004.
While the long-established LA Galaxy brandishes the assets of David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, Chivas USA counters with Juan Pablo Angel, Miller Bolanos and Dan Kennedy, a noticeable difference in firepower. Still, the team is on an upward swing despite reaching from a lower place in the Western Conference standings.
Having attended home games for both teams on back-to-back nights, the LA Galaxy’s more established environment with marquee names and a “place-to-be-seen” atmosphere certainly trumps Chivas USA in popularity and excitement. Still, the Galaxy’s success comes at a price with face value ticket prices costing more than most MLS matches and a supply and demand relationship which drives higher prices to after-market tickets and a lesser availability.
Chivas USA benefits from this inequality with more affordable tickets. In 2012, LA Galaxy attendance is 22,500 while Chivas USA is 13,437, about 60% of the long-established team’s dominant appeal. The resulting popularity of the Galaxy allows fans of Chivas USA to get tickets at a face value price of $15 to $100 while Galaxy tickets cost $20 to $200.
If given the opportunity to see games hosted by both teams, do both, not just the cheaper of the two. They offer different experiences that all soccer fans will enjoy.
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".
There is nothing special in terms of drink offerings at the Home Depot Center. Regardless of the home team playing at this venue, prices are the same. Premium and domestic beers are offered at different prices, $13 and $11 for bottled offerings and $9.50 and $8.75 for draft options. Margaritas are $12, cocktails are $8.50 and wine is $7.
Bottled soda and water is $4, but get the fountain soda option and pay $5 for a large and $4 for a small. The Home Depot Center does not offer any souvenir drink cups commonly found at venues detailing star player identities or a regular season schedule.
Food options are not too exciting, but there are several unique items that allow fans to upgrade to something a little different. Among them are the loaded hot dogs and loaded nachos. A hot dog is $4.75 but get the Frito-Pie Dog, Nach-Yo Dog or Big Kid Dog for an extra $1. Regular nachos are $5.75, but get the Pulled-Pork Nachos, Philly Cheese steak Nachos or Jerk Chicken Nachos for an additional $3.
Add chicken or beef to your regular nachos for an additional 75 cents. Super nachos, which is just a larger version of the regular nachos, are $8. A fiesta salad or stadium burrito is $7.75. Cheese or pepperoni pizza is $5.75, Italian sausage is $6 and a BLT salad is $8.50. A healthy kids meal is $6.
There are no bottomless soda or popcorn options at the Home Depot Center.
As you determine where to sit, consider a few things by understanding the layout of the seating environment, the view and pitch of the rows relative to the field. Although the seating areas at the Home Depot Center can hold 24,000 fans, Chivas USA averages just over half of this number and seating options are reduced in a clever way.
To keep the intimate feel without revealing so many empty seats, sections in the upper level on the East side of the field and all seats behind the north goal are closed off and covered with a massive Chivas USA logo and color bands. It is a clever way to promote the unique team brand while keeping the intimate feel of the stadium intact. In time, there might be a need to remove these tastefully designed and applied canvas billboards from these sections, but for now, enjoy the pageantry of the Chivas USA brand.
The primary scoreboard with video replay is on the north side of the field high atop the grass hill which serves as overflow general admission seating for selected heavily-attended games. A secondary scoreboard is located behind the south goal, but does not have video replay. It sits above the stadium club, an area reserved for premium seatholders only. The Chivas USA bench is in front of section 110 while the visitors are in front of section 112. The teams enter the pitch within section 141 at the south end.
Multiple levels of private suites are in the upper level on the west side of the stadium along with club seats just below the press box in sections 110 through 112. Benches with chair backs fill the south end without cup holders. These are known as general admission seats and are found in sections 101-106 and 137-142 (the area splits in section number sequence here).
Of all the seats you can choose for a Chivas USA game, given the price, location, and origin of view, I recommend seats higher than row J in sections 108 or 114 on the west side of the field behind the benches or on the east side of the field, 129, 130, 134 or 135 facing the benches. I enjoy facing the activity along the benches, between coaches, players and officials, etc. and chose section 134. If cover from the sun and rain overhead is important to you, select a row higher than row N in any of the sideline sections and in the corner south end sections.
The reason for these recommended sections comes through the balance of price to location. These seats are close to midfield providing a good view of both goals and sightlines which allow you to enjoy the middle field of play. Based upon 2013 prices already announced, the price of these seats is $23 while moving closer to the center line steeply increases to $30 (east side) or $38 (west side) depending upon the side of the field.
Move from the recommended sections toward the corner and the price is cheaper at $21, but because the seat is positioned directly toward the sideline in front of you, you find yourself looking to the side most of the game because you are buried in the corner and the field is the other direction. Avoid the low price corners and the overpriced true middle to make a good ticket selection. The distance between rows on the sideline is comfortable and the seats provide enough space for you to enjoy the game and not feel boxed in during 45-minute halves. For those who wish for a unique experience, sideline seats provide a high chair for $100.
If you enter the stadium through the northwest gate, the north concourse straight ahead is quite narrow and can provide obstacles if you are trying to get to the east side seating areas during crowded games. The west concourse to your right is a better way to go if the crowd is too large. Head to the south area concourse where it is much wider and provides multiple opportunities to pick-up free food samples from sponsors, enjoy games for the kids and other worthwhile things.
The east side concourse behind the seats provides plentiful opportunity to sit with many tables and chairs to eat and drink. There are also quite a few high tables to stand while having a platform for your meal. This area tends to be a quite a bit less congested than the west side. If you are meeting people before the game, make it the east side for a gathering spot. As you enter the seating area from the east side concourse, you will be able to walk the length of the sideline under a covered walkway separating the upper and lower seating levels and have full view of the field. This is not the case on the west side, however.
Before the game, though, any trip to see Chivas USA needs to begin two hours prior to kick-off Chivatown USA. At the north end of the complex before entering the gates, fans descend on the Home Depot Center to enjoy fun and games in a soccer environment which include contests to win prizes, sponsor product samplings, live music on a full-scale stage, three-on-three "wall soccer", appearances by the Chivagirls and the team's supporter groups, Union Ultras and Black Army 1850. Spend an hour here to get ready for the competition on the pitch. It is time well spent.
Once the game begins, the team's announcer does what he can to get the crowd revved up. With every opportunity to make an announcement on a substitution, goal or advertisement, you will be engaged. Also, in a unique way to keep fans attentive until the final whistle, the team offers a promotion where the final eleven players who end the game for Chivas USA provide the "Shirts off Their Backs" to eleven lucky fans. Fans should register at any team booth along the concourse before the second half begins and the winners are invited down on the field post-game to receive their jersey.
To add more spice to your visit, you can find Chivas USA supporter groups at the south end of the stadium. The Union Ultras are in section 101 and the Black Army 1850 in section 138. These fervent groups are represented at Chivatown USA as well before the game just at the base of the perimeter to the north of the scoreboard.
Chivas USA has certainly worked hard to make their mark in differentiating it from the LA Galaxy. Still, the complex sits on the Cal-State Dominguez Hills campus with nothing much around it. It certainly isn't a destination for pre-game meals or activities. There are a few convenience stores to visit nearby, but nothing worth calling a lunch or dinner spot.
If you want to get an early bite away from the stadium, but with a soccer atmosphere, choose one of the two MLS recommended soccer pubs. There is San Pedro Fish Market, 11 miles and 20 minutes to the South and DP's Pizza Pub, 24 miles to the east and 35 minutes away from the Home Depot Center. Both are a distance away and I only mention this since it is listed on the MLS Matchday mobile application.
Fans in Southern California are quite knowledgeable of the world's most popular sport. LA Galaxy fans tend to be a little more corporately-based which defers to a more family-friendly crowd at Chivas USA matches. You will certainly see many more little kickers when you see a Chivas USA match.
All fans seemed to be robust in their spirit and knowledgeable of their team. When asking someone the difference between the two team's fans, I was told applause from LA Galaxy fans comes in the form of a golf clap while applause from Chivas USA fans comes in the form of hooting, hollering, dancing, chanting and overall going wild. Sadly, I did not see this much at the most recent game I attended as the San Jose Earthquakes shutout the home team 2-0.
The Home Depot Center sits on the northwest corner of the Cal State Dominguez Hills college campus. Regular parking is $15 for most events and preferred parking is $30. They reserve the rights to increase prices based upon more highly touted matches. Chivas USA does not control the parking process, the campus does. Also, there is no light rail and although there are a few buses which travel to and from campus, the hassle is not worth this option.
Parking is largely available to the north of the stadium which is where you will find Chivatown USA and just to the left of the gates, twelve ticket windows. Also, regardless of which entrance you enter the stadium, you are required to pass through a security system similar to what you do when entering the concourse of an airport after checking your bags at ticketing.
While the northwest end is the most frequently used entrance, there is access at the other three corners. The entrance at the southwest corner offers the official team store of both MLS clubs who call the venue home and the primary ticket office. However, the entrance requires you to climb about 50 steps to the main concourse so avoid this area if you have trouble making it up steep-stepped walkways. The northeast and southeast entrances are smaller and less-travelled, likely due to the appeal of Chivatown USA and to the southeast a smaller adjacent parking area.
If you don't mind getting there early, at least 90 minutes before kickoff, you can find one of 60 or so spots along Avalon Boulevard which are just south of East Albertoni Street and just north of East Victoria Street. Watch for the signs which do indicate no parking in certain areas so you park in the right spot. This section of parking is just south of Highway 91 and parallel and to the east of Highway 110. The walk might be a quarter mile.
The first night while attending the LA Galaxy match, I had to pay $15 after arriving later than desired. I did not make the same mistake the next night and found a spot on the street saving money later spent on food.
The venue has an appropriate amount of restrooms for both men and women along the sidelines behind the seating areas and there was no crowd or wait at any time during the game.
Parking is a little excessive so if you get there early and park on the street, you can save $15. Ticket prices are fairly set, but as in all venues, there are good values and not so good values. Choose wisely. Food prices are for the most part, appropriately priced, but choose beer, wine or cocktails and you will be taken for a ride.
There is nothing decorative about the computer generated ticket that many fans look forward to keeping as a souvenir. The Galaxy produces their tickets the same way so nothing missed here.
Program - the smaller, hand held version contains quite a few lesser pages than not only the LA Galaxy, but most of the other MLS franchises. It is complimentary as you enter the seating area, but fails to include any statistical updates. Typically, the program is an opportunity to generate advertising revenues for the club. It is possible the lack of program content is a reflection of limited corporate support for Chivas USA as compared to the LA Galaxy.
Merchandise - the basics are available here with several modular stands in the concourses as you enter the stadium and a few permanent merchandise areas on each side of the sideline concourses and below the stadium club facing the outer concourse. Authentic jerseys are $99, team t-shirt is $22, team scarf is $20 and team hats range from $17 to $26. The popular, but sometimes annoying vuvuzela is $5, the best merchandise buy in the stadium.
Scoreboard - there is a primary and a secondary scoreboard at The Home Depot. The primary is behind the north goal with replays and greater details on the game at hand. The secondary scoreboard is at the south end and includes just the basic details.
Unfortunately for the club's fans, Chivas USA folded in 2014.
In the Primera Division de Mexico, Club Deportiva (or "CD") Guadalajara has established itself as one of the premier franchises. The club has never dropped to the second-tier division, which is rather impressive as it was one of the charter franchises of the league. The team consists of only players of Mexican heritage, making it the only football club in Mexico to do so.
FIFA.com has gone on record stating that Guadalajara is the most popular franchise in league. With such success, owner Jorge Vergana Madrigal decided to take the talents of his franchise to America. Back in 2004, Major League Soccer (MLS) named CD Chivas USA its eleventh member.
Before we go any further, most uneducated readers are probably asking themselves a few questions. Firstly, where does the team play? The teams calls Carson, CA (a suburb of Los Angeles) its home and actually shares the Home Depot Center with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The second question might be asking what the team's nickname is? The team's nickname is indeed "Chivas," which means "goats" in Spanish.
Since inception, Chivas has called the Home Depot Center its home. The venue was completed in 2003 at a cost of $150 million. The stadium holds an intimate 27,000 fans.
The stadium is located on the California State University, Dominguez Hills campus in Carson, CA. It is approximately 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and easily accessible from the 405 or 91 freeways. As you approach the facility, you'll quickly notice the mysterious blue lights at the top of the facility and once out of your vehicle, take note of how beautifully groomed the surrounding area is.
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2 Civic Plaza Dr
Carson, CA 90745