1. BARS: Let's start off with one of the most talked about features of Avaya Stadium - the longest outdoor bar in North America, or LOBINA; a bar so big it has its own Twitter account - follow the bar on Twitter @LOBINA_QUAKES15. The beer list at Avaya is longer than a Matias Perez Garcia dribble; a vast improvement over Buck Shaw. Beers of the world can be found at the south end of the stadium, including my own personal favorite, the cream of Manchester - Boddingtons pale ale - it fair brings a tear to my eye. There are also may local brews on tap, and with the players strike averted, Strike Brewing's brown and blonde ales is the only strike we'll be talking about.
2. WOOD: Hands down the most appealing features of Avaya Stadium is the use of the thousand-year-old redwood reclaimed from Moffett Field's famous Hangar One to soften the stadiums concrete and metal infrastructure. The choice of material is even more fitting, as former Earthquake star Johnny Moore worked for a company that specializes in reclaimed redwood. Sure, there was wood at Buck Shaw - those rickety, bouncy bleacher base boards were rumored to be even older than the NASA Ames redwood.
3. SEATING: Say good-bye to those Buck Shaw bleachers and say hello to seats. Real seats. Blue seats with backs. Blue seats with backs and padding. Blue seats with backs, padding and cup-holders. The 576 club seats are closest to the field - remember those canvas field seats; they're gone. The seating bowl has the steepest rake in the league, with a 90-foot canopy extending to the first row of seats. It's described as a European feel, but in San Jose the protection it provides will be from the sun, not the rain.
4. BATHROOMS: Probably the single biggest upgrade for the comfort and convenience of the fans. Indeed, an upgrade for members of the press, whose urgent deadlines were met with full bladders, because of the long lines at Buck Shaw. And definitely no more port-a-potties.
5. ADVERTISING: The painted boards of Buck Shaw have been updated to state of the art LED display boards at Avaya Stadium - the seating bowl is edged by a strip of lights, that glow with the Earthquakes logos, and generate revenue from the Earthquakes sponsors. LED light boards will also be installed at field level, providing a small amount of protection for the photographers.
6. CLOUDS: Billed as the first cloud-enabled sports venue, Avaya Stadium has its own app to locate the stadium facilities, check the Earthquakes schedule, link to Earthquakes social media, and access season ticket holder accounts. Another kind cloud hit the stadium in the pre-season game against the LA Galaxy - a giant hailstorm in the final minutes of the match. Some weather reports have a cloudy outlook for Sunday, with a slight chance of rain - not the sort of cloud-enabling we're looking for.
7. LIGHTING: Rumor has it that the photographers of Buck Shaw were known to consume copious quantities of carrots, high in the vitamin A that enabled them to see in the dark for night games. The lights at Avaya are installed directly on the stadium canopy, and the evenly distributed and enhance illumination will allow the photographers to revel in another couple of f-stops - look forward to some top quality images.
8. AIRPORT: San Jose's Mineta airport is directly behind LOBINA, and guarantees that every game comes with a fly-by; in fact a series of fly-bys. The airport has its own air traffic control system, though it's uncertain whether an errant Victor Bernardez free kick will show up on their radar.
9. SEISMOGRAPH: Menlo Park based US Geological Survey have installed a new seismograph in Avaya Stadium. According to their web site, the instrument is installed as part of their program to increase the density of earthquake sensors around the Bay Area. USGS do acknowledge that the sensor is "sensitive enough to record ground vibrations generated by the large, noisy crowds at Avaya Stadium". If you want to check out the data for yourself, the seismograms recorded on the new instrument are publicly available online.
10. GRADUATION: The Earthquakes are no longer subject to their pitch availability dictated by the needs of the University of Santa Clara. Now, the Quakes fans have bidden farewell to Buck Shaw stadium - after eight years they've finally graduated into their first full-time soccer venue.
One thing that will not change is the center-line - it will be there right in the middle of the action, at the mid point between each goal. The denizens of Center Line Soccer look forward to covering the San Jose Earthquakes in their new home - Avaya Stadium. And their deadlines will be met in much more comfort.
The sold out San Jose Earthquakes vs. The Chicago Fire game kicks off at Avaya Stadium at 4PM PST on Sunday March 22. TV and radio coverage is FOX Sports 1 and 1370 KZSF.
Photographs from the Center Line Soccer staff Lyndsay Radnedge and Joe Nuxoll.