Columbus to Canada: A look at MLS stadium relocations

BBVA Compass Stadium panoramic shot

Photo Credit: 
Anthony Vasser/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo will play their first match at their new home ground, BBVA Compass Stadium, on Saturday (4:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network). How that game will go is entirely less certain.

The Orange have finally made it through their season-opening seven-game road trip, compiling a respectable 2-2-3, but haven’t won a game since March 17 and are reeling after back-to-back losses to D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. If history is any indication, however, Houston shouldn’t be overly concerned.

Of the 11 times an MLS club has moved to a new home stadium, only once has the team lost their opener at the new site. To celebrate Houston’s impending relocation, MLSsoccer.com breaks down the history of MLS clubs moving shop:

May 15, 1999 – Crew Stadium
Columbus Crew 2, New England Revolution 0

After starting their season with a seven-game road trip – sound familiar? – goals from Jeff Cunningham and Stern John started the Crew off on the right foot in their new stadium. Interestingly enough, however, Columbus’ win percentage actually decreased after moving into their new digs. Their first seven games yielded a 5-2 record; their next 25 saw them win 14.

May 11, 2002 – CMGI Field
New England Revolution 2, Dallas Burn 0

The Revs didn’t need to move far for their home opener – Foxboro Stadium had once stood on the parking lot of their new ground, now called Gillette Stadium – but they badly needed a win after starting the season with a four-game road trip and a 1-2-1 record. Taylor Twellman’s brace proved enough to down the Burn, and the Revs went on to win 10 of their remaining 23 games to finish top of the Eastern Conference.

June 7, 2003 – The Home Depot Center
Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Colorado Rapids 0

The Galaxy had to wait eight games to finally play at the HDC. They didn’t win any of them. Indeed, the Carlos Ruiz-fueled victory against Colorado only pushed their record to 1-4-4. With a new stadium, however, came more wins: LA posted an 8-8-5 mark over the remainder of the season to finish fourth in the West.

August 6, 2005 – Pizza Hut Park
FC Dallas 2, MetroStars 2

Unlike the teams that had done so before them, FC Dallas moved into their new stadium late in the season. Dallas finished July with a 10-5-4 record despite playing only six of their games in the friendly confines of the Cotton Bowl. The new digs wouldn’t suit FCD quite as well as their old home, though. They stumbled to a 3-5-5 record to end their season, and were bounced by the Colorado Rapids in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, the decisive shootout loss coming in Frisco.

June 11, 2006 – Toyota Park
Chicago Fire 3, New England Revolution 3

The 2006 Fire one-upped the Galaxy by starting their first nine games on the road, and managed to compile a 2-3-5 record in their travels. In their first game at home, however, they blew a 3-1 advantage against New England, allowing stoppage-time goals from Steve Ralston and Andy Dorman. Their next two games – both on the road – ended in losses. After returning home once again, however, Chicago finally started to get on track with three straight wins at Toyota Park, and eventually finished the season with a 13-11-8 record to finish third in the East.

April 7, 2007 – Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Colorado Rapids 2, D.C. United 1

The Rapids became the first team in the league’s history to open their season with a brand new stadium, and against the reigning Supporters’ Shield-bearers, they proved equal to the occasion. However, in spite of the auspicious start, the team’s home form the rest of the year was underwhelming. In 2006 at Invesco Field, Colorado compiled a 9-3-4 record; in 2007, DSG Park saw the Rapids go 6-4-5.

October 9, 2008 – Rio Tinto Stadium
Real Salt Lake 1, New York Red Bulls 1

These days, the mention of the RioT brings back memories of RSL’s superb 2010 season and unbeaten streak at home. The first games at the new stadium, however, were less glorious. By the time Rio Tinto opened, the Claret-and-Cobalt had already compiled a 7-1-5 record at Rice-Eccles Stadium. And while they took four points out of their two regular-season games at their new home, RSL’s season also ended in Utah after the Red Bulls snatched a 1-0 win in the Western Conference Championship.

March 27, 2010 – Red Bull Arena
New York Red Bulls 1, Chicago Fire 0

After 14 seasons at the Meadowlands, New York finally made the long-awaited move to a stadium of their own. It was the first step in a remarkable turn-around campaign for the Red Bulls – one year after finishing bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 5-19-6 record, New York improved to 15-9-6 and jumped to the top of the conference table. Understandably, the Red Bulls’ home record improved as well, going from 5-6-4 to 10-3-2.

June 27, 2010 – PPL Park
Philadelphia Union 3, Seattle Sounders 1

Though the Union had played two home games already by the time PPL Park opened, they had also played eight on the road, and the expansion club floundered to a 2-7-1 record. In the end, Philly couldn’t overcome their early struggles as they finished the season with a 8-15-7 mark. But that number also includes a 5-3-5 record over their remaining 13 home matches.

June 9, 2011 – Livestrong Sporting Park
Sporting Kansas City 0, Chicago Fire 0

Sporting had to endure 10 games on the road at the beginning of their season, and with a 1-6-3 over those games, it seemed like the club was doomed to extend its three-season streak of not making the postseason. Their 0-0 draw in LSP's debut didn’t do much to improve their prospects, but Sporting’s results immediately and dramatically picked up after their sparkling new home opened. The club won 12 of its next 24 games, compiling a 9-2-3 record at home while going 3-1-3 on the road. SKC’s second-half surge pushed them to the top of the Eastern Conference table and finally snapped their run of missing the MLS Cup Playoffs.

October 2, 2011 – BC Place
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 0, Portland Timbers 1

Vancouver’s inaugural MLS season was a grim affair. The club went 6-18-10, putting them even with New England for the fewest points in the league and considerably softening the impact of their return to BC Place after a season spent at Empire Field. Despite the loss to their Cascadia rivals in the renovated stadium’s opener, results did improve slightly over the remainder of the season. The Whitecaps’ remaining four games saw them go 2-2-0 with a road loss at Dallas.