Avaya Stadium Set For a Smoother Innagural Season Than Levis Stadium
For Niners fans like myself, this is a sad truth. That’s right, the 100 million dollar Avaya Stadium is already looking like it is going to be more celebrated in it’s first year than the 1 billion dollar Levis Stadium is.
The Earthquakes front office has certainly made some questionable moves in the past few years that has had fans holding their heads in their hands, but this is something they’ve done right.
One of the bigger problems with Levis Stadium was the fact that not much noise was made when the Niners were on defense. The seats at Levis aren’t angled towards the field, so the noise that is created seems to just float off. Additionally, the absence of an overhang means the noise that is generated doesn’t bounce around the stadium like we see in Seattle and Sporting KC. It also means fans are sitting in the blaring sun for all day games. (5 out of the 8 games played last season at Levis Stadium started at 1:30) The fans that Levis Stadium is tailored to would much rather leave their seats and socialize in the concourse instead of squinting their eyes at football players while yelling at the top of their lungs.
Avaya Stadium is the polar opposite. The seats are angled towards the pitch, and the seating area is also very steep. The overhang covers nearly all of the seats. (except for the club-level seats ironically) It makes sitting and watching the game comfortable, and it helps amplify the noise that is created by the fans.
Change of Target Fan Base
The fan base that Levis Stadium is tailored to is the corporate wealth that exists in Silicon Valley. According to a SeatGeek.com report, tickets were roughly 45% more expensive in Levis Stadium in it’s inaugural season. Now of course, comparing the popularity of MLS and NFL is completely unfair. Tickets are expected to be more pricey for NFL games. However, the fact that the Niners snubbed their faithful fans that stuck with them through the miserable years at Candlestick park from 2002-2010 is ridiculous. The people that kept the team’s culture alive through the tough times may not be able to make it to Levis Stadium for a number of reasons. Prices and distance from the actual city of San Francisco being the main ones.
In 2014 at Buck Shaw, the cheapest season tickets were only $266 in the supporters section. At Avaya Stadium, the cheapest season tickets are only up $34 to $300. Even though the upgrade from the port-a-potty infested Buck Shaw stadium to Avaya Stadium was huge, the Quakes barely increased the season ticket prices for their most loyal supporters. That means that the faithful members of the 1906 Ultras, the Casbah, and the Faultine will be able to continue to support their team despite the enormous upgrade in the stadium
Of course, the Quakes will still be tailoring to their corporate customers as well. The several club-level seats and the on-field suites will surely have plenty of takers.
Levis Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play, is about a one hour drive (not including traffic) from the heart of San Francisco, and about 2 hours using public transport on a regular day. It is also not built close enough to any large freeways, which causes major congestion with 70,000 people coming to each game.
Avaya Stadium, on the other hand, is only a 10 minute drive from Santana Row and Downtown San Jose. It is also very close to 880 and 101, and very accessible by both CalTrain and BART.
So what’s your point?
The Earthquakes did a world class job with what they had. They took the extra time and spent the extra money to create a facility that will be revered and celebrated throughout MLS. If you gave a sports fan a ticket to a game at Avaya Stadium and Levis Stadium, it’s almost guaranteed that he or she would enjoy the experience at Avaya more.
Sure, the Earthquakes might not be a top-table team this year, but their fans will most definitely be happy with what they’ve been given. There is a lot to look forward to in this beautiful stadium, and the credit is deserved for the Earthquakes organization.
It took 40 years, and the journey was anything but easy, but soccer fans in the Bay Area finally have a place they can call home.