Top Trends in Soccer Stadium Design
Now more than ever, stadiums of all kinds are looking for ways to lure fans away from the comfort of their living rooms and bring them together to create new energy and excitement.
Soccer stadiums are a great example of how this is being carried out. According to Commissioner Don Garber in a state of the league address, Major League Soccer is committed to rapidly expanding its league in the United States by building more soccer-only stadiums.
Telemundo Deportes, a programming division of NBC Sports, says soccer is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. More adults consider themselves soccer fans today than in the past, and more children are opting to play in high school.
Our team of stadium and venues experts gets involved in many soccer stadium design projects, giving us a close-up look at what’s bringing fans together.
Q2 Stadium in Austin, TX, is a great example of how soccer stadium design can bring people out of their homes and closer to the action on the field.
Creating Appealing Environments
Bill Mulvihill, managing director and head of the Sports and Entertainment Group at U.S. Bank, predicts smaller, more intimate venues on the horizon for the next generation of stadiums and arenas, including soccer stadium design.
That was exactly the plan for Q2 Stadium when Austin FC built its new home. The $260 million, 20,500-seat venue sits on a 24-acre site surrounded by an amphitheater and stage plus other outdoor spaces.
The goal wasn’t to produce another mega stadium. Instead, the objective for this soccer stadium design was to create a casual, relaxed environment that showcases the personality of the team, its fans and local Central Texas. From curated artwork and hand-painted murals to cozy sofas and lounge spaces, designer Gensler calls it a “speakeasy design” and an Ode to Austin.
Connecting Everyone and Everything
A tech-forward soccer stadium design brings Austin FC fans close to the action through high-resolution LED displays and double-sided marquee displays that make live video, instant replays, stats and game information, animation and sponsorship messages visible from anywhere. This connects fans to unique experiences anywhere in the stadium—from the two-tiered outdoor patio to individual seats.
Digital ticketing and mobile ordering and payments are also part of the Q2 Stadium experience: The venue doesn’t accept cash or physical game tickets. From traditional gameday snacks like hot dogs and popcorn to unique options like Asian, barbecue and authentic Mexican cuisine, fans browse vendor menus, place orders and pay for food and beverages via an in-stadium mobile app.
Because so much of the spectator experience in this soccer stadium design relies on connectivity, Q2 Stadium has a cellular distributed antenna system (DAS) and a Wi-Fi 6 system. When the stadium first opened its doors in 2021, cellular carriers weren’t providing service on the DAS. All 20,000 fans relied exclusively on the Wi-Fi 6 system, supported by Belden cabling and connectivity.
Keeping Fans Comfortable
The blazing sun overhead combined with three-digit temperatures can make even the greatest fans hesitant to sit outside.
Today’s open-air soccer stadiums are attempting to lessen the impact of the sun and heat in several ways. The design of Q2 Stadium features open corners that allow breezes to travel through the venue. Several seats are made of breathable mesh material to remain cool, and the roof shields each seat from the sun so fans stay comfortable.
In addition, a climate-controlled area with TVs, food and beverages provide space for those who want to experience the game indoors but still be part of the action on the field.
Being Part of Something Bigger
New soccer stadiums are often designed to become part of mixed-use developments that bring a regular flow of activity. Fans can stay nearby, shop before and after the game, grab a bite to eat and even use open areas and trails, creating a distinctive experience that’s about more than just soccer.
Q2 Stadium is located near Verde Square, a new mixed-use project under development in Austin, TX, that will bring offices, apartments, hotels, restaurants and shops to the area.
Creating a Year-Round Purpose
Although the stadiums may be designed first and foremost for soccer, many are also designed to be 365-day destinations.
When there isn’t a game, Q2 Stadium is open to the public for events ranging from music concerts to farmers’ markets and festivals. It also offers space to host business events and conferences, weddings and other private gatherings.
To learn more about the design of Q2 Stadium—and the network infrastructure that supports fan engagement and interaction—read our recent case study.