Monday, March 23, 2015

Avaya Stadium Sex Machine Boogaloo A La NorCal!


SAN JOSE, Calif. – To San Jose Earthquakes team president David Kaval, Sunday wasn’t just the grand opening of Avaya Stadium.
“I think our fans have been waiting for this for so long, it was kind of like a wedding/bar mitzvah/anniversary all wrapped up into one,” Kaval told MLSsoccer.com after the Quakes beat the Chicago Fire 2-1 before a sellout crowd of 18,000. “The joy for so many fans was just palpable.
“Just an incredible day.”
About the only thing that seemed to go noticeably wrong for the Quakes in the debut of their $100 million stadium was when one member of a skydiving team had to land in a parking lot instead of on the field due to high winds pushing him off course.
Otherwise, it was a rollicking party, fueled by early tallies from Fatai Alashe and Ty Hardenthat staked San Jose to a 2-0 lead after 21 minutes.
“The atmosphere was fantastic,” Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear said. “I’m glad we gave them good early goals to get them excited and keep them nice and vocal. … Overall, it’s a wonderful place to play.”
San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham said the noise made it tough to hear at times – something that might have played a part in the Quakes’ goals. Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson, standing in the enclosed end of the arena for the first half, appeared to err to some extent on both occasions, opening the door for San Jose’s attack.
“The crowd was awesome the whole time,” said Harden, who scored his first career MLS goal. “It was loud and everybody felt really close. All the guys on the team jumping and piling on me made it feel that much better. I thought it was electric inside.”
Fire coach Frank Yallop, who spent eight and a half years on San Jose’s bench, said he had “goosebumps” walking into the stadium for the first time.
“It was a really nice feeling,” Yallop said. “It’s a special place. They did just a magnificent job on the stadium.”
The occasion afforded MLS commissioner Don Garber a chance to take a triumphant victory lap in a market the league had to vacate in 2005 after the first-generation Quakes – and their owners, Anschutz Entertainment Group – couldn’t get a soccer-specific stadium built and thus moved to Houston. San Jose’s current team was born as an expansion side in 2008.
“It feels like we’ve been waiting from my first day in 1999,” Garber told reporters at halftime in the Avaya press box. “Certainly when we left, we so desperately wanted to come back. And we wanted to have a stadium that our league could be proud of, and we are very proud today.”
Garber and Yallop both praised the field-level luxury boxes, and the commissioner pointed to the (relatively) lower cost as a potential blueprint for other clubs in the future.
“I think this is going to be one of the best models for us going forward,” Garber said. “They built it smart. … They’ve built it very efficiently, and that’s important. Not every stadium’s got to be several hundred million dollars. It’s actually good to have them built in a way where the economic model makes sense, and I think that’s what we have here.”
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