DC United Signs New Lease At RFK Stadium, Plans To Make It More Soccer-Friendly

Seating at RFK Stadium will be limited to lower bowl as DC United hopes to get fans used to a more cozy environment.

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DC United Signs New Lease With RFK Stadium, Will Make It More Soccer-Friendly

In what the team hopes will be a step toward eventually getting a purpose-built soccer stadium, D.C. United has signed a new leas with RFK Stadium that keep them in the landmark facility for two more years, but also make it more suitable for its main tenant. Seating at RFK Stadium will be limited to the lower bowl and the team will attempt to sell advertising on the upper-bowl tarps. The new configuration will make capacity about 19,500.

"It’s a great branding opportunity, but it’s more important that our supporters become accustomed to a 20,000-seat stadium, and we expect that limiting the capacity will encourage an increase in season ticket sales," United President Kevin Payne told the Washington Post.

In previous years, capacity was about 45,000, a number that made RFK seem cavernous. The largest crowd United drew last year was 26,622, and was the only game all year that drew more than the new capacity. Last year, the team averaged about 15,000 fans and just 16,134 showed up for First Kick last week.

United is one of just four MLS teams that plays in a large stadiums. The Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps and New England Revolution all judiciously use tarps to limit capacity.

For more on United's stadium situation, check out Black and Red United.

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San Jose Earthquakes Can Start Building Stadium, Clear Final Hurdle

The San Jose Earthquakes could have a new stadium sometime in the 2013 season after the city's planning commission gave their final approval for the project on Wednesday. A group of neighbors had been hoping to further delay the building, but their appeal was denied.

Up until now, details of the Earthquakes' stadium plans have been scarce. Current plans call for a relatively spartan, 18,000-seat, $60 million stadium that will be privately financed.

This leaves the New England Revolution and D.C. United as the only teams in MLS without stadium built with soccer in mind. Assuming the Quakes' stadium is ready in 2013, that will mark the seventh straight year that at least one new MLS stadium has opened.

For more on the stadium, be sure to check out Earthquakes blog Quake, Rattle and Goal.

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Montreal Impact Will Play 2-3 Games A Year At Olympic Stadium

After playing five games this season at Olympic Stadium, the Montreal Impact will continue to play 2-3 games a year at the roughly 55,000-seat indoor facility at least until the 2015 season, the team announced on Tuesday. Among those games will be the season-opener for each of the next four seasons. The Impact will also playing their Voyageurs Cup games at Olympic Stadium this year. The Impact will play most of their home games at Saputo Stadium once renovations are finished there during the 2012 season.

The facility was first built for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. It's most frequent tenant was the Montreal Expos, but after the baseball team left in 2004 they have been without a regular occupant. The stadium is largely seen as a drag on taxpayers and it remains the largest stadium in Canada when it is expanded to its full 66,308-seat configuration.

The Impact have a history of playing games there, though. Most notably, they played in front of a crowd of 55,571 in the 2009 CONCACAF Champions League against Mexican club Santos Laguna.

"We are proud of this partnership with the Olympic Park and we are pleased to contribute to its functions as a major sports venue ," Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo said in a team release. "As we will live a historic year for soccer in Quebec, this strong partnership is very positive for the borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Montreal and our club. This will most notably provide a venue where international matches can be held. The Olympic Stadium is a great soccer venue where we have had success in the past. We hope to repeat some of those exploits, both on the pitch and in the stands."

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