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30 March 2015

HOK-Designed Avaya Stadium Opens to Accolades

Avaya Stadium

Major League Soccer’s newest venue, Avaya Stadium, debuted to a sold-out crowd of 18,000 fans for the San Jose Earthquakes’ first home game of the season.

The European-style design of Avaya Stadium and focus on the fan experience drew praise from fans, media and league leaders.

Avaya Stadium“The overarching vision was to create a home venue that could have a competitive advantage for us as an organization, not only in terms of fan experience and cultivating this amazing European-inspired supporters’ culture, but also in player amenities that can enhance our ability to sign top-tier players and compete for more championships,” said Dave Kaval, San Jose Earthquakes president, in a Stadia Magazine feature article.

Brad Schrock, director of Sports + Recreation + Entertainment based in HOK’s San Francisco office, told Sports Illustrated that the project was “an exercise in best value. Where do we put the dollars to get the most value out of it?”

Avaya StadiumHOK’s design team worked with the Earthquakes to focus the budget in areas that would truly impact the fan experience. A 90-foot canopy extends to the first row of seats, capturing the sound of cheering fans. Fan amenities include a 3,647-sq.-ft. bar – touted as the longest in North America, the two-acre 7UP Epicenter Fan Zone, open-air clubs and patio suites at the field level that allow fans to experience the excitement up-close.

The result “is incredibly intimate and captures the energy of the fan,” Schrock told SI. “It harkens back to great European soccer venues, really tight, steep seating bowl with big overhangs to amplify the crowd noise.”

If the reviews following the Earthquakes’ opening game against the Chicago Fire are any indication, Kaval and the HOK design team accomplished the club’s vision.

Avaya Stadium

Among the reviews:

“I think this is going to be one of the best models for us going forward. They built it smart. … They’ve built it very efficiently, and that’s important.”
- MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Sports Business Daily 

“Several features stand out at the new digs. The 18,000-seat venue, modeled after European soccer stadiums, is built to maximize noise. The Ultras proved the design’s worth with loud singing throughout the match. Beautiful redwood reclaimed from the hangar at nearby Moffett Field adds a sinewy quality to the concourse areas. The overall feel is one of openness. The hills beyond the airport offer a fabulous vista.”
- Quakes Open New Stadium With Exhibition Win, SFGate

“The steep sightlines allow a perfect view of soccer’s geometry. The railed-off south end zone standing-room area, plus the sections directly above, were filled with the chanting and singing Earthquakes supporters’ groups. The open concourse with patio-like club seating lent an exotic texture. All the extra money spent by co-owner John Fisher, who was beaming Saturday while viewing the warm-ups, was well spent.”
- Purdy: Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium Raises the Bar, San Jose Mercury News

“Fans marveled at the stadium design, with steep seating that allowed them to feel close to the action. ‘It’s got a very European style to it,’ Annabel Menendez of Burlingame said. ‘We sat behind the goalie, and we could see great, but I think anywhere you sit you’ll have a good view of the field.’”
- 18,000 Soccer Fans Fill New Avaya Stadium for San Jose Earthquakes’ First Official Home Game, NBC Bay Area 

“The crowd was awesome the whole time. It was loud and everybody felt really close. … I thought it was electric inside.”
-San Jose Earthquakes Defender Ty Harden, MLS Soccer

“It’s a special place. They did just a magnificent job on the stadium.”
- Chicago Fire Coach Frank Yallop, MLS Soccer

“I think our fans have been waiting for this for so long, it was kind of like a wedding/bar mitzvah/anniversary all wrapped up into one. The joy for so many fans was just palpable.”
- San Jose Earthquakes President Dave Kaval, MLS Soccer

Watch a two-year time lapse video of the construction at Avaya Stadium.