Best MLS stadiums: Top stadia in MLS
Ahead of the 2023 MLS season, we review the best MLS stadiums currently in use and compare all the grounds along the way. From the iconic Yankee Stadium to the newer grounds like Banc of California, it’s time to compare and contrast the venues for top-level soccer in the US.
Best MLS stadiums
Unranked: Citypark, St. Louis City
Citypark is yet to host a competitive match as St. Louis City joins Major League Soccer in the 2023 season. Therefore it’s difficult to accurately gauge just how good the overall experience will be at this new ground.
Hopefully, the Missouri locals will fill out this brand-new 22,000-capacity ground more often than not in their inaugural season.
28. Shell Energy Stadium, Houston Dynamo
When it comes to the conversation of best MLS stadiums, Houston Dynamo’s housing is one that seldom crops up. The Shell Energy Stadium is the latest name change in what has become a frequent process.
The 22,000 ground is seldom troubled to reach capacity with crowd numbers dropped steadily since 2016. In the last few years, the stadium has become rapidly outdated despite only opening in 2012. The orange seats might be synergistic with the uniform and franchise, yet are uneasy on the eye. Furthermore, the structure offers little relief from the Texas heat and sun. Coupled with the poor attendance, this ground becomes one to miss.
27. Yankee Stadium, New York City FC
While Yankee Stadium is a historic sports arena in the Bronx area of New York, it is not a soccer stadium. Having to share it with the New York Yankees makes for inconvenient scheduling, as the baseball team takes precedence over the turf.
That said, when the soccer mode is engaged, supporters do make the field feel like their own with a decent enough atmosphere. While Citi Field and Red Bull Arena are often used when baseball is being played, the club needs its own ground. A new proposed venue is set to be completed by 2027.
26. Soldier Field, Chicago Fire
There might not be a glummer venue in the whole of the US than Soldier Field. Chicago Fire finished well outside the playoff picture in 2022.
In the NFL, the Chicago Bears were statistically the worst team throughout the year. Therefore, the upset 15,000-odd spectators that do turn up don’t do much to fill out the 60,000-capacity NFL stadium. As such this shared stadium feels incredibly dated and not befitting of the contemporary game.
25. Gilette Stadium, New England Revolution
Despite housing some of the greatest MLS players in history like Kei Kamara, Taylor Twellman and Clint Dempsey, the Gilette Stadium isn’t fit for New England Revolution.
Or rather, they’re not fit for it. This is a venue with the ability to hold 65,000 spectators, while the pre-determined setup for MLS games is limited to 20,000 and the Revs typically struggle to attract those kinds of numbers.
24. Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte FC
Some credit has to be given to the Bank of America Stadium and Charlotte FC. After all, together they hold the record for the biggest MLS crowd, as 73,019 spectators watched the club’s first-ever competitive match.
The team continued to attract 35,000 per game in their inaugural season. These are convincing numbers but this is seldom the soccer experience, as the ground was made for the Carolina Panthers and NFL experiences.
23. Toyota Stadium, FC Dallas
When looking at a map, it’s apparent the Toyota Stadium is a little out of town.
The positioning in Frisco makes for an arduous trek for most Dallas natives. Given that the fixtures come thick and fast throughout the summer months, ample protection… is missing here. The roof doesn’t do much to contend with the Texas sun.
22. Dignity Health Sports Park, LA Galaxy
The best teams should have the best MLS stadiums, right?
In the case of LA Galaxy, you’ll be treated to the likes of Javier Hernandez, Douglas Costa, and Dejan Joveljić. However, depending on your seat, it can alter your viewing experience. The lower-level seats are particularly susceptible to this.
21. TQL Stadium, FC Cincinnati
Despite the TQL Stadium only opening in 2021, the core FC Cincinnati supporters have taken it to their hearts. Subsequently, their noise has taken to the ears of everyone else on the ground.
The LED lighting has been praised for the great illumination of the beautiful game.
Conversely, the parking lot has been not as universally loved – with few spots available and expensive rates seemingly everywhere around town.
20. Audi Field, D.C. United
After two decades at the multi-purpose RFK Stadium, D.C. United finally got a venue they could call their own, Audi Field.
Most reports are jaded to the fact that this is a vast improvement on their prior ground. While ticket prices could be considered high at this venue, most onlookers attribute that to paying off the new ground. However, attendees are often quick to add the overall experience is pleasant, with most adding the culinary offerings are sublime here.
19. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Colorado Rapids
There might not be more a subjective ground than DSG Park. The Colorado Rapids are that team that is often photographed playing in a blizzard. While others would call the game off, the action here goes on making it one of the iconic MLS venues.
Sadly the ground is situated at least 10 miles outside of downtown Denver, making it relatively difficult to access. The overall structure and roof design have also come under fire from spectators, described as ‘no thrills/protection’. Furthermore, remarks that the aesthetic is a homage to the Rocky Mountains are quickly laughed off.
18. America First Field, Real Salt Lake
The somewhat newly renamed home of Real Salt Lake sits comfortably in the middle of the pack in terms of MLS grounds. Primarily for the disparity between the quality of fanbase to the middle of the road stadium quality.
The 20,000+ capacity is seldom a poor ground, it’s just become somewhat dated over time. Newer and sexier stadiums have emerged offering better spaces to play football. As such, the regular visitors in the form of men’s and women’s US national teams haven’t played in Utah since 2017.
17. Saputo Stadium, CF Montreal
Built on the grounds of the 1976 Olympic facilities, the Saputo holds a decent sporting linage. The surface has been likened to those used in the Premier League with the heated undersoil.
Aesthetically, the ground is not the most striking yet it does not suffer from unusual design choices. The city, however, has been a great place for MLS expansion with just one other sports team in town, leading to a good number of vocal supporters turning up to home games.
16. Q2 Stadium, Austin FC
For a ground that was completed in 2021, the Q2 Stadium punches well beyond its weight. Yet, would the hip contingent of Austin, Texas have it any other way?
The open-air canopy bowl is adjourned by air-flowing corners which facilitate breeze ventilation throughout the entire ground.
Andy Loughnane, the president of the franchise, detailed every specific from the fabrics, structures, and facilities needed to make it authentically Austin in character. If you don’t immediately appreciate that, you can have a few drinks at the on-site beer hall and appreciate it later.
15. Subaru Park, Philadelphia Union
Often cited as being one of the most scenic grounds, Subaru Park enjoys the natural riches of being placed on the waterfront of the Delaware River. Traveling along the Commodore Barry Bridge for match days makes for an incredible pre-match atmosphere.
The ground is one of the smaller facilities in Major League Soccer, meaning that the tantalizing football can be enjoyed in an engrossing fashion as supporters are essentially on the pitch with the players.
14. DRV PNK Stadium, Inter Miami
Despite playing all their home games at DRV PNK Stadium to date, Inter Miami does not intend to stay here forever. Moreover, this is an interim home until the Miami Freedom Park is completed. As of February 2023, the project is yet to break ground. Therefore, it’s expected that David Beckham’s franchise will play here until at least 2025.
The club could do much worse than this temporary venue with spectators citing that it is both comfortable and very convenient to access. The pitch surface quality has been praised as well with CONCACAF selecting the venue for a multitude of its matches.
13. Red Bull Arena, New York Red Bulls
The glaring attribute about the Red Bull Arena is that despite the franchise name, the ground is in New Jersey. Not New York. On paper, it’s not an issue, yet the specific locality makes for an unusual experience as it’s surrounded by industrial sites and warehouses.
Stepping inside the bowl, however, it becomes another world. Since 2010, the ground has erred to create distinct soccer experiences. The 25,000-capacity venue has remained relevant and state-of-the-art despite new stadia seemingly popping up every season. Furthermore, it still offers an intimate feeling with seats very close to the ground.
12. Lower.com Field, Columbus Crew
When it comes to ranking the best MLS stadiums, Lower.com Field has all the hallmarks of a top ground and some contemporary twists.
The Nordecke section makes quite the sight, with over 3,000 yellow-clad supporters turning up for every game. Beer lovers can put this one straight to the top as the ground has multiple taprooms pouring a variety of brews all season long.
11. PayPal Park, San Jose Earthquakes
It took the San Jose Earthquakes a long time to get their own space. Yet, in 2015, the original MLS franchise team finally got a place to call home – and a unique one at that.
The double-decker seating arrangement is unique and atmospheric with a limited 18,000 capacity. PayPal Park is great for visiting supporters too, being very close to the local airport!
The football from San Jose hasn’t been that good of late, however. That’s not a problem, as the stadium boasts one of the largest outdoor bars in the US. Plenty of opportunity and liquor to drown sorrows.
10. Allianz Field, Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United came to prominence on a global scale when the franchise hammered Frank Lampard’s Everton 4-0 at Allianz Field. Truth be told however, this franchise has been a hotbed for soccer passion since the club’s inception in 2015. The 20,000 strong that turned up to their temporary home in the inaugural season still clamber for tickets to Allianz Field and a hullabaloo when they turn up.
Despite the enormity of the exterior, this is a trick on the eye as inside the ground it feels relatively intimate. This is how the stadium was designed to ‘be close’, with the closest seat to the pitch separated by a mere 17 feet. The sustainable design and locally sourced materials are a real plus point too.
9. BC Place, Vancouver Whitecaps
The Pacific Northwest loves soccer. Canada is no exception as Vancouver Whitecaps supporters often pack out the 20,000 soccer attendance capacity. The retractable roof is incredibly useful for unpredictable weather as is the locality of the ground, being almost in the center of Vancouver.
Despite the ground being shared with the local gridiron team, BC Place often echoes with the chants from the vocal Southsiders supporters groups, making the ground their own.
8. Geodis Park, Nashville SC
Nashville SC moved to its own home last season with the advent of Geodis Park opening in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. The ground has quickly been adopted as one of the better new grounds in MLS. The viewing experience has been described as a pleasure with comfy seating and noisy fans who make the atmosphere truly special.
However, the home supporters might be forgiven for preferring awaydays having won just six games in 17 during the 2022 season!
7. Exploria Stadium, Orlando City
Despite playing their first few seasons at the iconic Citrus Bowl, Orlando City continued to look for its own home. Exploria Stadium has allowed the club to make its own identity, which includes the 3.000+ safe standing area, affectionately known as ‘The Wall’.
Despite having a lot of other sports teams in the state of Florida, this hasn’t deterred people from taking to the club as the fanbase is often cited as one of the most active in the league.
6. BMO Field, Toronto FC
Canadian crowds in MLS might not rival the NHL just yet but Toronto FC is doing its bit to invigorate interest in the sport. BMO Field has been relevant and fresh with consistent renovations and expansions since opening in 2007.
The vibrant and ethnically diverse culture in Toronto lends itself to the love of the beautiful game in the city. This can be observed by simply watching the south stand on a matchday who despite no doubt enjoying the current Italian influx, are more likely to wear shirts adorning club legend, Sebastian Giovinco.
With the success of the ground proving itself in MLS competitions, the Canadian national team has also opted to play the majority of their home games here at BMO Field.
5. Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting Kansas City
When googling ‘best MLS stadiums’ it’s likely you’ll come across the infamous ‘Welcome to the Blue Hell’ banner which the Sporting Kansas City supporters hoist up during their home games at Children’s Mercy Park. The team dates back to the original MLS season in 1996 as Kansas City Wiz and is now on their third home. It took until 2011 for the team to move out of Arrowhead and later CommunityAmerica Ballpark as it took over a decade for the franchise to have its venue.
No matter the form of the Wizards, fans make this one of the most vocal grounds and hostile places for opposition teams. The attendance has remained high since 2017 when the team started a 100-match streak of selling out every league home game.
4. BMO Stadium, LAFC
When proposed venues break ground, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be in the running for the best MLS stadium. However, Los Angeles FC most certainly got the blueprint right during the design phase.
The ground has been designed for the ultimate viewing experience with spectators angled away from each other with precision to ensure ideal viewing – as well as some seats overlooking a great vantage point of the California skyline.
The appeal for the ground has gone beyond soccer and has even been chosen as one of the venues for the 2028 Olympics when LA hosts the games.
3. Lumen Field, Seattle Sounders
Crowds in MLS have been subject to criticism in the past. However, the Seattle Sounders do their utmost to dispel any concerns. The city and team have a rich soccer history dating back to the 1970s in the NASL. Consequently, the team enjoys one of the best fanbase followings in the entire division.
Despite the ground being commonly known as the home place to the NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks, the venue record attendance was set by the Sounders. Over 69,000 gathered to watch the franchise lift the title in the MLS Cup final in a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC.
2. Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta United
Undoubtedly one of the best sporting atmospheres in North America, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium attracts healthy attendance rates. In 2022, Atlanta United enjoyed an average of over 47,000 spectators per game.
The demand to watch the team is high, leading the franchise to frequently use its expanded setup to allow up to 72,000 spectators at any one time. Of course, the Atlanta Falcons use the pitch too, but this hasn’t stopped Atlanta United from making any less noise themselves.
1. Providence Park, Portland Timbers
Could this be the best MLS stadium? There’s a lot to love about Providence Park in Portland.
The site dates back to 1893 as an athletic field and has had a storied past having housed baseball, gridiron football, and pop concerts.
Portland Timbers became a regular tenant in the 1980s and made the ground their own in the MLS era. Famously, the Portland has sold out the majority of their home games since 2011 and made a racket in the process. The rich passion and traditions of Timber Joey and his trademark wood-cutting goal celebration have made the ground a true sporting spectacle.
Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.