San Jose Earthquakes games will have a distinct European feel at their newly completed Avaya Stadium.
Of course, the fact that it houses North America’s largest outdoor bar may help with that, too.
Sports Illustrated took a look at MLS’ newest soccer-specific stadium – which will get its regular-season unveil Sunday in a match against the Chicago Fire (7 pm ET; Fox Sports 1) – with the help of lead architect Brad Schrock.
“How it became the largest bar in North America I don’t know,” Schrock, director of Sports + Recreation + Entertainment for HOK, told SI.com. “We didn’t set out to make it that, but the nature of the size of the opening and the desire to create this really active dynamic space it turned out to be that.”
It’s just one of the features of the horseshoe-shaped stadium. The others come from its counterparts across the pond.
One is the steepest seating bowl in all of the league. The single-seating bowl starts 10.5 feet above field-level suites and part decks at an angle of 30 degrees, meaning the 18,000 seats will have a close-to-the-action feel.
“The steeper it gets the more people feel like they are on top of the action,” Schrock said.
The roof is also meant to add to the venue’s cozy feel, while of course protecting fans from the elements.
“It is incredibly intimate and captures the energy of the fan,” Schrock said. “It harkens back to great European soccer venues, really tight, steep seating bowl with big overhangs to amplify the crowd noise.”