This was a busy offseason for the NFL as we will see two teams debut at a new facility this season. The first is a move into an existing stadium as the Chargers head to the Stubhub Center, a soccer-specific stadium in Carson, CA that is home to the LA Galaxy. There are a number of things that make this unusual, the most glaring being the size. Stubhub is a terrific soccer complex, but it only holds 27,000, which is way below NFL standards. A move to smaller college stadiums is not unusual when a new stadium or renovation is done (see Minnesota, Chicago and Tennessee), it’s just that we haven’t seen the capacity that small before. This is also going to be their temporary home for at least three seasons. Finally, what kind of fan base will we see, especially considering that LA gets their second team in as many seasons and that the market solidly grew on the college side with resurgent USC and to a lesser extent, UCLA. On the other end of the country, we have a stadium opening that is less messy as the Falcons move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This replaces the 25-year old (that’s right) Georgia Dome and the new $1.6 billion stadium has made quite an impression thus far. The video screens add a Jerry Jones level of showy uniqueness and though this stadium adds to those where home-field advantage and noise are all but gone, it certainly is an intriguing stadium for fans and aficionados alike.
In College Football, there are two new stadium openings. First, in Fort Collins, we have CSU Stadium, oh wait I’m sorry, “On-Campus Stadium”. I know that they haven’t found a naming rights deal, but you think they could at least come up with a temporary name instead of their literature that just labels it “On-Campus Stadium”. Anyway, this stadium is indeed within CSU as opposed to far-flung Hughes Stadium and the Rams made their highly anticipated debut on August 26th. The other new one is from FCS. We saw East Tennessee State return to football last year, now, they have a stadium to go along with it as William B. Greene Jr. Stadium is completed. It holds 7,694 and that means it falls just shy of making it onto The List. Another program that has made a comeback is UAB and while their hiatus was brief, many in Birmingham are celebrating their return to Legion Field. Other notes include the expansion of Brooks Stadium as Coastal Carolina makes the transition to the FBS level and the interesting venue switch by Georgia State as they take over former Turner Field. What a versatile place that has turned out to be as it hosted the Olympics, baseball and now football. The layout still looks baseball-y, but improvements over the coming years will turn it into more of a Panthers home.