Supplement Feature - July 2009
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Stadium Solutions

An Inside Look at Outdoor Sports

By Richard Zowie


Football isn't the only outdoor sport where stadiums are being renovated or being built anew. The same goes true for soccer. Sometimes the process is twofold: to improve a soccer team's prior home while offering amenities designed to not only make for a better playing and watching experience, but also to try to help soccer gain a stronger following in America. Widely considered the world's most powerful sport, soccer is now trying to build a fan base to achieve the popularity traditional American sports like football, baseball and basketball now have.

Pioneer Field
University of Denver

The University of Denver is located about 10 miles south of downtown Denver. Both the men's and women's soccer programs use Pioneer Field. Starting in January 2009 and scheduled for completion this October, renovations are under way to improve Pioneer Field and make it an even better place to play and watch soccer than before. The renovations, no doubt, will have big shoes to fill as the field was honored in 2003 as the state of Colorado's "Field of the Year" by Colorado Sports Turf Management.

The project at Pioneer will cost more than $16 million. The idea is to make both the men's and women's teams more competitive in soccer while improving the amenities.

For starters, according to DU Associate Athletic Director Stu Halsall, the soccer goals are World Cup-quality and will be anchored into the ground. The prior goals were not. The new system also has what Halsall described as "sleeves" that go underground. Once the soccer season's over, the goals will then be unanchored and stored.

Previously, the soccer field had portable bleachers. Now, there will be a seating capacity of 1,771 plus standing room only for 144. The central premium seating section will contain seat backs.

"There won't be a bad seat," Halsall said. "All seats have great viewing."

Pioneer Field's lights will represent a drastic improvement over the previous field in a very noticeable way: The Pioneers' prior home didn't have any lights. With no lights for soccer, the Pioneers were limited to daytime games. This posed problems as the days grew shorter in the fall.

"Having lights gives us the ability to be flexible with match times and when we can play," Halsall said. "It helps us in scheduling opponents."

Keeping in mind the limited site plan and the nearby neighborhoods, the field has what Halsall described as a "targeted" lighting system.

"This addresses playing factors, spectator factors and the surrounding neighborhood," he said.

These days, stadiums are designed to not only provide for great playing and viewing, but also to have a nice look. Pioneer Stadium, which will open in late August, has a copper and sandstone finish and is designed to match nearby buildings.

It's attached to a sports and wellness complex on campus.

Halsall, who's from England, feels soccer will grow in popularity as more and more youths begin playing it. This will drive attendance.

"Part of it is the maturity of soccer in the U.S.," said Halsall. "In other countries the history of soccer dates back, but it's still a new sport (as far as being played at the professional level) in America."