They won’t be jotting down notes in their journals while testing Jimmy Nielsen or tracking Teal Bunbury, but the San Jose Earthquakes will pay close attention to the off-the-pitch amenities as they visit Sporting Kansas City at their brand-new Livestrong Sporting Park on Friday evening (8:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
If the Quakes players want anything special built into the franchise’s new stadium, now is the time to ask for it. The shuttered manufacturing facility that occupied the prospective site for San Jose’s new park has been razed. Construction has not yet begun, but that lull won’t last forever.
“From what we’ve seen and heard from everyone who’s experienced it, it’s just another level,” Quakes defender Jason Hernandez said of Kansas City’s nine-figure home. “Every player would love to have that as their home. And with us being in the development stages of our stadium, it’d be great to go there and see what they’ve brought to the table and if we can take little bits and pieces and incorporate that into what we’re doing here. I’m sure that we would all welcome that.”
For the Quakes, Friday represents another chance to make their mark in one of the league’s top-dollar soccer-specific stadiums. In 2010, San Jose closed the inaugural year of Red Bull Arena by defeating New York 3-1 and knocking the top-seeded Red Bulls out of the playoffs, 3-2 on aggregate.
A win might have to serve as a consolation prize, since the Quakes don’t have the kind of budget that went into construction at RBA and LSP.
“We’ve got our own plans,” Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop said. “Between myself, John [Doyle, GM] and [team president] Dave Kaval, we’ll figure out what we need and what we can put in there and go from there. We just want a decent surface, some seats to sit on for the fans and then a decent locker room.”
Despite playing in a college facility — Buck Shaw Stadium, on the campus of Santa Clara University — the Quakes have still managed to create a difficult environment for visitors to navigate with the help of their vociferous supporters’ sections.
However, with their present venue barely accomodating above 10,000 fans, the Quakes could unquestionably crank the volume up louder in a new stadium with a larger capacity crowd — much like the crowd they expect to face this evening.
“I think that the atmosphere created by the fans at Buck Shaw says a lot, as far as being able to do that at a renovated college [stadium],” Hernandez said. “I think you see from teams around the league, when they do bring a stadium into the fold, it creates this excitement and makes the fans that much more passionate. They want to come out. Not even the avid soccer fan, but the casual fan is going to come out and want to experience that.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes