Are you ready for the Revolution?

Uncategorized Posted Oct 5, 2015 by chenpr

A few months ago I wrote about soccer in the U.S. and since then my interest in the sport has continued to grow. One of the first things I began doing with my newly acquired love of soccer was to start following the home team, the New England Revolution. Something I’ve noticed in the short time I’ve been watching their games is how often opposing players complain about the poor quality of the field at Gillette Stadium. Some players have gone as far as to refuse to play on it.

This may come as a surprise to fans of the American football New England Patriots; Gillette is a relatively new stadium and the quality of the field has never been an issue. But it seems that American and European football players differ on the subject of what qualifies as a suitable playing surface. American football players tend to favor a harder surface that allows for a higher speed of play, but in soccer this causes the ball to move at a pace that is hard to control and to bounce higher than it would on a natural surface.

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Aside from the technical difficulties, the firmness of artificial surfaces also poses a greater injury risk for soccer players. Soccer requires a lot of endurance based running and players participate in many more games a season than American football players. The hardness of an artificial field can cause more stress on the body, increasing the risk of injury, which is part of the reason why so many players will sometimes refuse to play on it.

If all that wasn’t enough, the sheer size of Gillette Stadium makes for a lousy atmosphere on game day. The popularity of the MLS is growing and average attendance of games hovers somewhere around 20,000. But in a stadium with a capacity of almost 70,000 it almost always feels empty, which inhibits the energy of the crowd and prevents any of the revelry that is usually associated with soccer matches.

sad fox

As of now there are 20 teams in the MLS. Of those 20 only six don’t have their own dedicated stadium and only four have home fields with an artificial playing surface. The Revolution fit into both those groups.

Robert Craft, who owns both the Revolution and the Patriots, has heard the complaints of fans and players and has said that he is looking into building a new complex for the Revolution in or around Boston. To this point there has only been rhetoric, but with the growing popularity of the MLS it seems likely that the pressure on Kraft to improve the team’s facilities will force him to finally make a move.

If or when he does begin in earnest to build this new stadium the real question is, how will it be financed? As we saw with the Boston bid for the 2024 Olympics, any plan that involves even the chance of costing tax dollars is going to be very unpopular. I’m excited by the prospect of being able to regularly attend soccer games without having to leave the city, but share people’s reticence to accept any plan that involves using tax money to finance a stadium and pitch.

How do you feel about it? Does having another sports stadium in Boston sound like something you would support?