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Site Selection: Finding the Right Home for New Soccer Stadiums in the U.S.

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LightBox Insights
June 12, 2018 5 mins

As soccer continues to grow in popularity in the US, soccer-specific stadiums remain in vogue. How can location intelligence help identify the best locations for new stadiums?

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is coming up, and we’ve got soccer on the brain. America’s love of soccer might be fairly new compared to the rest of the world, but a recent Gallup poll revealed soccer’s popularity is quickly gaining on the three largest American sports (football, baseball, basketball), and for the first time, beat out hockey. In fact, America’s love of soccer tripled in the last decade!

Now, because we’re LightBox DMP, it’s only natural that we start to focus on the role of location intelligence in site selection. As you might guess, it plays a big role! All those new soccer fans drove the formation of new professional soccer teams. Those soccer teams need soccer stadiums big enough to house all of their fans and turn a profit for team owners. The question is, where are the ideal sites for new soccer stadiums?

Major League Soccer is Expanding

Major League Soccer (MLS) started out with 10 teams and quickly grew to 23, with plans to expand into 28 franchises in the next few years. Many teams started out playing in football stadiums, but more and more cities are investing in soccer-specific stadiums. There are currently nine professional soccer stadiums under construction or in the planning phases across the United States. These include:

Audi Field for D.C. United

Banc of California Stadium for Los Angeles Football Club

Allianz Field for Minnesota United

Columbus Crew

  • Early planning stages for Austin, TX

Nashville Fairgrounds Stadium for Nashville expansion team

  • Construction to begin soon in Nashville, TN
  • Architect: HOK

New York City Football Club

  • Early planning stages for New York, NY

Miami expansion team

  • Early planning stages for Miami, FL

FC Cincinnati

  • Early planning stages for Cincinnati, OH

Chicago USL Team

  • Early planning stages for Chicago, IL

Of the nine new soccer stadiums listed above, five are still yet to confirm where their stadiums will be located. Location intelligence will play an important role in the planning and pre-construction phases regarding site selection for these new U.S. soccer stadiums. Data-backed site selection ensures owners and investors choose the sites most likely to provide a great experience for fans, keeping them coming back for more.

Choosing a Soccer Stadium Site

There’s obviously a lot to consider when choosing a massive site for a new soccer stadium. A location intelligence platform allows you to search for sites based on very specific property criteria, and review those sites on a map for easy visual analysis of how a stadium fits into a city.

Here are some examples of spatial data that can be reviewed with the help of a location intelligence platform, and how that data impacts stadium site selection:

  • Property Size: Project plans offer a good idea of exactly what size stadium you’ll need to support a growing fan base. Location intelligence platforms allow you to search for parcels of land according to very specific size requirements.
  • Parking: Parking availability, whether it’s several open lots or sites for parking garages, plays a huge role in people’s overall experience of attending sporting events. Once you’ve chosen sites that are large enough to house your soccer stadium, you can review against aerial imagery to visualize ideal options for parking or view spots that already exist.
  • Accessibility: Reviewing potential sites on a map will show how accessible your site is to major roadways, as well as how to maximize ingress and egress options. You can also identify how many roads could lead to the stadium and its surrounding parking lots – an important consideration if you want to avoid massive traffic jams on game days.
  • Traffic Count: Along with roadway accessibility is the importance of understanding traffic count. Reviewing this data reveals if your soccer stadium will add unmanageable amounts of traffic to an already congested area, and can help you plan ways to possibly mitigate that over-congestion.
  • Demographics: Location intelligence will show what kind of population is near your proposed soccer stadium site. It’s reported that the increased popularity of soccer is largely due to millennials, so perhaps you want your stadium accessible to an area with a higher millennial population.
  • Proximity to Other Stadiums: Stadiums located near each other can have a hugely positive economic impact on the part of the city they are located in. Nearby establishments can count on a steady stream of clientele throughout the year, rather than peak seasonality associated with most sports.
  • Drive Time: Drive times are an important factor in soccer stadium site selection. First, stadiums need to be stocked with massive amounts of goods and services, and you want to be sure you aren’t too far away from trade centers and labor pools. This includes everything from food and alcohol, to toilet paper and hand soap, along with people to clean and provide services to fans. Second, you want to account for a reasonable drive time from dense urban areas so that the stadium is accessible to nearby fans.
  • Ownership and Valuation: A strong location intelligence platform provides instant landowner information, along with fair value of the land you’re considering purchasing. This helps negotiations get underway faster, and ensures you’re coming to the table prepared with the information you need to make a reasonable offer.
  • Aggregate Acreage: In addition to ownership and valuation for individual parcels, a comprehensive location intelligence platform will help you search for parcels that add up to the total acreage of the property you’re looking for, all with the same owner. Having fewer owners to negotiate with simplifies the acquisition process.
  • Nearby Points of Interest: Do you want to place the stadium in an area that already hosts popular bars and restaurants? Or are you hoping to spur economic growth in a somewhat desolate part of town that shows promise for revival? There’s a benefit to both. A popular area has built-in traffic and is likely to draw a crowd based on proximity, while an up-and-coming area may offer tax credits and the ability to contribute to urban revitalization.
  • Site Overlay: Finally, site overlay will allow you to visualize what your stadium will actually look like on your selected property.

Learn More About Using Location Intelligence for Site Selection

While the examples above focus on choosing the ideal sites for soccer stadiums, location intelligence can be applied to any site selection process. Click here to contact us.

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