- Matt Finnigan
Weidner Field - Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Photos by Matt Finnigan, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Weidner Field 111 West Cimarron St Colorado Springs, CO 80903 Map It
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC website Weidner Field website
Year Opened: 2021 Capacity: 8,000
Soccer Comes to Downtown Colorado Springs Weidner Field
International soccer legend Pele famously described soccer as O Jogo Bonito, a Portuguese phrase meaning “the beautiful game.” The 2021 debut of downtown Colorado Springs’s Weidner Field, the 8,000-seat stadium that’s home to the Colorado Switchbacks of the USL Championship, enables fans to enjoy the beautiful game with a bela vista (“a beautiful view”). Pikes Peak, Cheyenne Mountain, and Colorado’s Front Range, sit just to Weidner Field’s west, providing fans on the stadium’s east side with stunning views. A setting sun behind those mountains can turn any photo into the cover of a “yacht rock” album (one can almost hear Pablo Cruise’s “Love Will Find a Way” as play continues on the pitch below).
Weidner Field is a key part of Colorado Springs’s “City for Champions” campaign, a renewal project paid for with funds from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Weidner Field, along with Colorado College’s Ed Robson Arena, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum, the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center, and the U.S. Air Force Academy’s new visitor center, is one of the venues that are drawing visitors to the Springs. It’s also a beautiful facility worthy of the short detour off of Interstate 25, just to the west.
Food & Beverage 4
A pleasantly surprising breadth of quality food and drink options await fans at Weidner Field. Hot dogs ($6), cheeseburgers ($10), chicken tenders ($7), brats ($8), and “old-school” nachos ($7) are sold at the stadium’s main concession stands. There’s also a good range of adult beverages: domestic beer ($14), craft beer ($10 for a 12-ounce draft), imported beer ($14), canned cocktails ($12), canned wine ($10), and a 24-ounce domestic can ($14.50) are all available. Sodas are Pepsi products, while beer includes offerings from Coors, Modelo, Corona, and Pikes Peak Brewing. White Claw hard seltzer is also sold in various flavors.
There are several ways to order food at Weidner Field. Fans can order from their seats via QVC code and then retrieve their orders from a nearby concession stand. Alternatively, touchscreen ordering stations have been placed in the stadium’s southeast corner, where beer, wine, and snacks can be purchased. This minimizes the disruption of waiting for food while play continues on the pitch.
The Switchbacks have quickly developed a passionate, enthusiastic fan base. Streets bound Weidner Field on all four sides, limiting its size. This means that fans sit very close to the action. So close, in fact, that fans can (and do) successfully inform the game officials about their feelings toward those officials’ abilities, family members, and pets. Fans need to be alert, particularly behind the goals. There’s no protective netting to protect fans from errant soccer balls which can leave the field of play at high rates of speed.
Corner Patio Seats With a View at Weidner Field, Photo by Matt Finnegan, Stadium Journey
As the neighborhood around Weidner Field develops, the atmosphere will improve even more with the addition of restaurants, bars, and shops within walking distance. In addition to some of the new additions around Weidner Field, the Trainwreck is set to open two blocks from Weidner Field in September 2022, at 812 South Sierra Madre Street. Approximately two acres in area, the Trainwreck will serve food and drinks, along with golf simulators, sand volleyball courts, bocce, and a 9-hole putting course. Downtown Colorado Springs’ renaissance should enhance even more the atmosphere while attending a Switchbacks’ game at Weidner Field. Other building projects can be seen beyond Weidner Field’s confines, a visual reminder of the neighborhood’s significant metamorphosis.
Weidner Field’s neighborhood is rated as it exists in August 2022. However, this rating is likely to improve over time. The facility was built in a part of downtown Colorado Springs that had largely been forgotten. Now, with the completion of both Weidner Field and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum three blocks away, the neighborhood is coming to life. Apartment complexes are under construction just beyond Weidner Field’s south end, bringing residents who should support restaurants and businesses in the neighborhood.
Notwithstanding the area’s nascence, the neighborhood around Weidner Field has some worthy pre- and post-game spots. The Warehouse and Gallery sits a few feet away from the stadium on Wahsatch Street. A block to the west from the Warehouse, the Coati food hall has a brewery, two bars, and seven restaurants, while the Atomic Cowboy includes outposts of popular Denver-based restaurants Fat Sully’s Pizza and the Denver Biscuit Company. For those willing to walk a bit further, the center of Colorado Springs has even more options. Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. has been a downtown mainstay for 30 years; Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub is another favorite (and an appropriate place to celebrate a Switchbacks victory).
For a team that’s existed for less than a decade, the Switchbacks enjoy great fan support. Average home attendance has improved every year the team has played, with more than 5,400 fans per game attending in 2021 and more than 7,000 fans attending in 2022. Fans are loud, engaged, and at times boisterous.
Weidner Field sits just to the east of Interstate 25 and is easily accessed via the Cimarron Street exit. The stadium sits on Cimarron, between Sierra Madre Street and Sahwatch Street. The Switchbacks do not have a dedicated parking area, instead relying on existing parking in downtown Colorado Springs’s south side. Some have criticized the club for building a stadium that does not have its own parking but this system works well. More than 5,000 parking places are available within a 6-minute walk of Weidner Field. Arriving at kickoff time on a Friday night means parking on the street at a meter for $6.50 and an eight-minute walk – not bad when compared to many other sporting events. This parking system also means that attending a Switchbacks game does not require an interminable wait to exit a centralized parking lot or garage.
Mass transit is an option, though likely not a convenient one. Mountain Metropolitan Transport’s 8th Street-Broadmoor Purple Line stops just outside Weidner Field. But most fans wanting to bus to the game will need to take a line to the Downtown Terminal, located at the intersection of Kiowa Street and Nevada Avenue, and then walk approximately a mile to the pitch.
Also, fans should know that the Switchbacks deliver on their promise to enforce their bag policy. Only those bags that are clear (so that security can visually inspect the contents without touching them) and no more than 18 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches or a one-gallon, re-sealable bag may come in. A small clutch bag or purse no larger than 6.5 inches by 4.5 inches may also be brought in. Security at Weidner Field strictly enforces these rules; several fans were seen trotting bags back to parked cars just before kickoff. The team does have a small number of lockers available for $10 just outside the gate on the east side of the stadium.
There’s decent room inside to move around. A concourse circles the stadium above the seating areas. During matches, fans have no difficulty navigating it. Before the game and during halftime, however, lines from concession stands mix with crowds of fans moving around the stadium. Wheelchair seating is available around the upper concourse. Fans with mobility aid can enter Weidner Field at Gate A on Sierra Madre Street on the facility’s west side. (Also, kudos to the Switchbacks for having an informative web page dedicated to ADA access at home games.
Return on Investment 3
A Switchbacks game at Weidner Field is not a bargain. Single-game tickets are sold through a third-party reseller. For the September 10, 2022 home game against Detroit, tickets range from $23 to $30. By comparison, the Switchbacks’ MLS parent team, the Colorado Rapids, hosts the Vancouver Rapids in Denver that same night. Most tickets for that game sell for $19 – $35, though some field tickets sell for $125. A Switchbacks ticket is not the bargain that some might expect for a USL Championship game.
That said, there are several ways to save money on tickets. The Switchbacks have a flex voucher program in which fans must buy at least 16 vouchers that fans can redeem at any time during the season for any game. A 16-voucher purchase for a bleacher seat with no back – the Switchbacks’ entry level voucher plan – sells for $328 ($20.50 per game). A 16-voucher purchase for a fitted seat sells for $520 ($32.50 per game).
Appurtenant expenses do not break the bank. Fans can be entrepreneurial to find budget-friendly parking. A small lot immediately across Sierra Madre Street from Weidner Field’s west-side entrance costs $25 but lots and garages throughout downtown Colorado Springs offer parking for significantly less than that. Plus, metered street parking provides a more affordable option.
Food and drink prices align with similar facilities. Outside food and drink, with the exception of one sealed, unopened plastic water bottle no larger than 17 ounces, is not permitted.
A very important first point goes to the Switchbacks for having what all venues should have: nugget ice. This cannot be overstated. The fact that fans at Weidner Field can enjoy USL action with ice nuggets – the very best form of ice – in their drinks separates the Weidner Field experience from all others.
The Switchbacks allow free refills on fountain sodas ($6), making that ice taste even better. Free refills are a welcome change for fans.
Public art earns a third point for Weidner Field. A large sculpture, “The Epicenter,” welcomes fans entering Weidner’s main entrance at the corner of Cimarron and Sahwatch Streets. The Epicenter stands 35 feet tall by 65 feet in diameter, weighs 164,000 pounds, and required more than 20,000 hours of work to complete. Its rings are comprised of more than 7,000 pieces and a remote-controlled LED lighting system helps bring the statue to life after sunset. Additionally, several large reproductions of paintings by legendary sports painter LeRoy Neiman (1921-2012) adorn the outside of Weidner Field’s east façade along Sahwatch Street. These reproductions depict great Olympic performances, a nod to Colorado Springs’s importance to the Olympic Movement.
The Switchbacks have incorporated thoughtful design into a stadium that celebrates Colorado Springs’s natural beauty and the sport of soccer. As the Switchbacks grow into their home at Weidner Field, the surrounding neighborhood seems poised to grow with them. As that happens, the team’s support should continue to expand. Professional soccer has a bright future in the Springs.
Follow Matt Finnigan’s stadium journeys on Twitter @mattfinniganco