For seven years, the San Jose Earthquakes played in their "temporary" home Buck Shaw Stadium as the organization proceeded with plans for a new stadium. Countless meetings, important votes, site preparations, and finally construction added up to the long wait for Quakes supporters, but their patience will soon be rewarded when Avaya Stadium opens for business in just under a month's time.
Has the wait been worth it? According to an announcement from the Earthquakes earlier today, over 11,000 fans have purchased season tickets for the 2015 MLS regular season -- a number that surpasses the entire 10,525 bleacher and seat capacity of Buck Shaw Stadium -- leaving fewer than 1000 season tickets left of the 12,000 season ticket cap. The Quakes also announced that once those tickets have sold out, a waiting list for prospective buyers will be started.
The 18,000-seat epicenter of Bay Area soccer, which sits adjacent to Mineta San Jose International Airport, has been quite a sight to see since its Guinness World Record breaking groundbreaking ceremony over two years ago. And now, with only a few finishing touches left to complete, the Quakes new home is garnering plenty of rave reviews from fans that have filled up tour groups to capacity as they were provided insider views of the facility. Last Saturday, the organization held an open house for prospective ticket buyers, pushing season purchases to the highest level in club history.
Anticipation for Avaya Stadium's season-ticket-holder-only preseason match against the LA Galaxy on February 28, which will have a limited attendance of 10,000 fans maximum, has reached fevered levels and is likely to prove a hot ticket. Meanwhile, the stadium's official debut, the March 22 MLS regular season home opener against the Chicago Fire, sold out weeks ago. Already many of the other games on the 2015 schedule are nearing capacity in tickets sold and distributed.
Casting a view to the state capital, USL PRO's Sacramento Republic FC announced on the same day that it had reached nearly 8,500 season tickets purchased for its 2015 season at Bonney Field -- a stadium that is currently undergoing renovations that will bring the capacity to 8,000. The 2014 USL PRO Champions have also made news in recent weeks by attracting some big-name investors to the club, including the Sacramento Kings and San Francisco 49ers, as it continues its push to join MLS as an expansion franchise.
There's even a great story developing just up the Peninsula from Avaya Stadium, where the Burlingame Dragons FC, the Earthquakes U-23 PDL club, are nearing 1000 in season ticket sales for their inaugural season. The Dragons have set a lofty goal of 3000 seats sold for 2015, a number that seems less a dream with each Founding Fan making the $60 pledge to support the team. And while the team is not slated to begin its season until May, they will host a Q&A with head coach Dana Taylor, hosted by Earthquakes defender Jordan Stewart, on February 16. The Dragons are even participating in this year's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Successful ticket drives by San Jose, Sacramento, and Burlingame, as well as the increasing popularity of clubs in San Francisco and elsewhere in the Bay Area, are sure-sign measures of the growth of soccer in Northern California -- and they signal that audiences are willing to come out and support their local teams on all levels of the U.S. Soccer pyramid. These are heady times for soccer, indeed.