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What’s the Biggest Difference Between European Soccer Stadiums and American Ones?

And are soccer-specific sites working in the states?

Stadium of Light mobile
A general view of the Stadium of Light. / MI News NurPhoto/Getty Images

A stadium is one of the most important pieces of a professional sports team. Throughout the United States and Europe, many stadiums serve not only as a playing ground but also as a historical landmark filled with decades of moments that will forever live in the history books.

 

As of late, soccer has been growing exponentially in the United States, and many MLS clubs have opted to build their own stadiums built just for the sport. Most recently, Los Angeles FC and Atlanta United FC opted for a more soccer-specific and cultural approach. LAFC built its own soccer-specific stadium—Banc of California Stadium—with the goal of creating a more passionate and electrifying environment, something that has been lacking in the MLS for the past decade. Atlanta, on the other hand, plays in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which comes complete with new technology that transforms it from an NFL stadium to a soccer-specific venue.

The soccer-specific model has been working, as the top five markets in the league have seen increases in average match attendance. The difference, however, between stadiums in the United States and ones in Europe is predicated on one big issue: Teams in the United States often move to different cities. This concept is totally unheard of in Europe. Teams in Europe have been around since the late 1800s, and the thought of one team moving to a different city would certainly cause chaos. Imagine Liverpool moving to Manchester; it would not end well.

 

What Europe also has is heavy investors that pour billions into the top markets. For example, Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium will cost around £1 billion. A project like that will command a huge naming rights fee.

 

Because of the influx of money coming into the top leagues in Europe, teams have opted to change their historic stadium names to sponsored names, which in turn drives an extreme amount of revenue. Fans have been disappointed by this and feel that most clubs are selling out. However, sponsorship creates more sustainability for clubs that can use the cash for improving the team.

 

MLS is taking this approach and has shown positive results. Juventus, a powerhouse in European football, recently changed its stadium’s name from Juventus Stadium to Allianz Stadium. This, in turn, gave the club more funds and most likely had some influence in the purchase of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

While European soccer maintains its role as the hotbed for viewership and talent, the United States is certainly making some waves as well. In the next few years, expect to see a shift not only in the talent coming to the United States but also in stadium concepts that replicate the European model that has been working ever so well.

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