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Behind the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, it’s hard for the Revolution to get noticed and draw attendance. So, does it really matter to New Englanders that the Revolution are looking for a new soccer-specific stadium? It should.
All across Major League Soccer, teams are building soccer stadiums to create an intimate feel and drive in fans. Now, the Revs are looking to get out of Foxboro and leave for a new area, closer to Boston.
The Patriots can afford to live in Foxboro. It’s not hard for them to fill 68,000-plus seats every Sunday, not matter how ridiculous the prices are. Those who have rode the MBTA to Patriots games realize that it is for special events only to Foxboro. For many, including the MBTA, soccer is just not that special enough. A move close to Boston might just be what the team needs.
The new home for the Revs could be Somerville. Just north of Boston, the area could be a perfect fit for a soccer stadium. For fans who can’t, or refuse to, drive to Foxboro, this is a short ride up the red line. Considering that tickets range from $20-$40 a pop, that could be the most reasonable deal you’ll find around the city. A family could afford to go to a professional sports game without mortgaging their house.
The stadium will have anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000 seats, which will create a real intimate setting. No more depressing images of stadiums a third full, with whatever fans in attendance crammed into single sections. Even during the MLS Cup games held at the old Foxboro, the stadium was only half-full at best. The new stadiums could change the landscape for the team.
It was football pioneer Lamar Hunt who built the first soccer specific stadium for his franchise, the Columbus Crew. Other MLS teams, such as the Los Angeles Galaxy and FC Dallas, have seen their profits increase since moving into their new stadiums. The idea of a soccer-specific stadium has been so successful that the Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Toronto FC, Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake have all moved into their own stadiums.
Next season, the New York Red Bulls will move into their state of the art arena, while the Giants and Jets are still forced to play at the Meadowlands. When they come into the league, the Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers and the unnamed Vancouver expansion team will already be set in their new soccer-approved venues.
Surprisingly, people do. Following team USA’s success in the 2002 World Cup, soccer has begun to steadily grow in popularity. With the coverage of this year’s Confederation Cup, it appears that the interest in soccer will not go away. ESPN’s Bill Simmons continually talks about the soccer’s positive traits that make it more attractable to American audiences.
Considering that there is uninterrupted gameplay for 45 minutes and the games almost always end in two hours, there is time to sit and watch a game and the viewer will know roughly when it will end, instead of wasting a whole day watching mainly commercials, as the case with other sports. Also, consider the constant growth and improvements of television. High Definition TV has changed the way people watch and consider watching every blade of grass blowing in the wind, and all of a sudden the game of soccer becomes something beautiful.
Now close you eyes and envision fans wearing their Revolution jerseys, standing a few feet away from the field and cheering in unison. The image on your television would be something spectacular and could be something more in person.
Not yet. However, give it time and that could all change. Boston loves a winner and the Revolution have proven in recent years to be one of the top teams. They have been MLS Cup runner up four time, including three straight years from 2005-2007. They recently won the US Open Cup in 2007 and the International SuperLiga Championship in 2008. Currently this year they are third in the Eastern Conference and looking at another playoff run.
They also have a proven star and proven following. Taylor Twellman is someone the team can build around. He is a former MVP and Golden Boot Winner, both in 2005. He has played for the national team and has unsuccessfully been sought after by European clubs. A move to Somerville could be the chance for Twellman to become a star in New England.
Have you ever been to a Revolution game and seen a group of fans singing and cheering in a particular section.If so, then you have seen the Midnight Riders, the official support group since the team joined the league in 1995. They currently have over 400 members and can be seen at games in “The Fort,” which is their own little section. A move to Somerville and a growth in popularity could see “The Fort” spreading around an arena.
Owner Robert Kraft and head coach Steve Nicol are excited about the possibilities of a soccer stadium in Somerville. Revenues aside, the new atmosphere will be a fan-friendly experience and something that can help soccer gain popularity in New England in the upcoming years. The stadium will also create a new venue for musical acts and other events around the city. Whole new possibilities come with the building of a new stadium.
It will be years from now before any decision is made. However, this is the first step in New England becoming a soccer destination.