With less than 72 hours before MLS Cup 2005, Frisco and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area are ready to let the world into their living room as Pizza Hut Park readies itself for the big day.
A little more than three months ago, the new stadium located north of downtown Dallas opened up for the first time when FC Dallas took on the MetroStars. When it opened it wasn't completely finished -- and that's still the case -- but it will be a lot closer to completion for Sunday's final.
"We are real close. They are literally working around the clock and have been -- the stadium will be 99 percent done by MLS Cup," said new FC Dallas general manager Michael Hitchcock. "There are a few things like landscaping and things like that, that will improve in the offseason. But as far as the actual structure of the stadium and its configuration, it's going to be there for MLS Cup."
Until even the Western Conference Championship, the locker rooms weren't finished -- but for the FC Dallas-Colorado Rapids they were in use for the first time. The stadium club has been all but completed, as have many of the other amenities.
Pizza Hut Park was designed with the fan in mind from the two jumbo screens to the concession stands, the second soccer-specific stadium in MLS built by Lamar Hunt and the Hunt Sports Group.
"It's a great venue and all the credit in the world goes to Lamar Hunt and the Hunt Sports Group. All the credit in the world goes to them and everything they did for looking at it through the eyes of the fan," said Hitchcock.
Hitchcock is no stranger to being involved in hosting an MLS Cup, at The Home Depot Center for the past couple of years as he was director of sales for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Yet when he viewed Pizza Hut Park for the first time, he tried to take the perspective of the stadium as a fan.
"I try to evaluate a stadium from a fan's perspective, because I was a fan of Major League Soccer before I became a front-office executive, and when I walked into Pizza Hut Park for the first time, it wasn't as a vice president with the L.A. Galaxy or a general manager with FC Dallas it was as a fan," he said.
"When I walked in I thought this is one of the best venues that I have seen for this sport from a fan's perspective. It is so fan friendly. The sightlines are outstanding - from the concession stands and the concourse, you are not cut away from the action, you are actually a part of the action. When you are in line to get a hotdog you can actually watch the game."
Fans will be able to watch the game nationally and abroad, as ABC and ESPN International will cover the game. "We are excited to showcase the stadium and showcase this market not just on national television on ABC but also internationally on ESPN international," said Hitchcock.
The stadium is sold out for the big event and the city of Frisco is ready with open arms, despite the fact the Hoops are not playing.
"The stadium is sold out," he said. "We are right now selling a limited number of standing room only tickets. It was nice to get to a sellout four days out for the game without FC Dallas being in it. I think that just shows you that this market will support this."
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.