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The Spurs of the Moment Have a New Home

Innovative sports stadiums of the future don’t grow on trees…

but they sure are popping up like they do.

Continuing from yesterday’s article that spotlighted Real Madrid’s recent plans to upgrade its Bernabéu Stadium, today’s UEFA Champions League first-leg clash between Tottenham Hotspur (“Spurs”) and Manchester City (“Man City”) seems like the right time to spotlight Tottenham’s new stadium, which was the site for the aforementioned Champions League match.

FYI – Tottenham Hotspur upset Man City 1-nil. The return leg in Manchester will be a must-see TV experience as Pep’s friends are in a bit of a pickle.

For now, enjoy the future of football (or soccer for my American friends) in London with a digital tour of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“The stadium cost an estimated £850 million, boasts a retractable pitch, and has a sunken artificial pitch so it can host 2 NFL games each season.

It also has the biggest single tier stand in the country with a capacity of 17,500, which Tottenham hope will generate a wall of noise to rival that of Borussia Dortmund’s famous yellow wall at Signal Iduna Park.”

–Sam Pilger, Forbes contributor, ‘Can Tottenham Hotspur’s New Stadium Deliver Success?’

For the record, the digital access cards mentioned in the video above have been used at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena for the past several years. It’s new to Tottenham fans, but not European football. And further, on the record, the digital access cards are pretty cool and pleasantly seamless concerning transactions.

There’s certainly a temptation for sports stadium architects to focus too heavily on technology as the driver of the fan and player experience. That’s fair. However, the ownership groups that will survive and thrive will use exciting technological innovations as a complementary feature to enhance the modern playing experience and fan experience with equal consideration. It’s all about the game and the players and the fans. First and foremost.

In today’s spotlight, Tottenham Hotspur appears to have delivered on those two experiences.

And surprising Pep’s Man City with a home win in Champions League didn’t hurt the new stadium’s introduction to a global audience.

P.S. That goal line-stretch bar deserves a global cheer. Norm Peterson already claimed his barstool. 


He Was Gunning for Them

Arsenal (“The Gunners”) have not had many reasons to celebrate in triumphant fashion in recent years, yet they’re reminded at every home game at Emirates Stadium of the eternal truth that one goal can change everything.

To celebrate this “Throwback Thursday,” let’s visually travel back to the far back yesteryear of 2002. The match was Arsenal hosting its bitter rival Tottenham Hotspur and the player was Thierry Henry. If you’re struggling to place Thierry Henry, he’s that world-class French forward who doesn’t run in strides, but glides with speed and cool precision.

I present the story of his goal and its iconic (and elaborate) celebration that literally and figuratively cemented Mr. Henry’s legacy in London.

What’s French for power and strength?

Thierry Henry.

At least France has one non-joke answer to that question.

The New 5-Second Rule

There have been recent reports that the MLS brass is strongly considering flipping the American soccer fan’s world upside down by switching the MLS schedule to sync with the European leagues: From March-November to August-May. While on the surface it may seem like the natural progression to make, think about how much you really like cold weather. Let me clarify: how much do you like sitting in cold weather for 2-2 1/2 hours during the American Winter season?

The reception to this proposition is likely to be more than just chilly (yes, that just happened).

Snow coupled with bone-chillingly cold winds will sweep into several of the MLS stadiums (Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Colorado, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Chicago, Columbus, Montreal, D.C., Philadelphia, New York/New Jersey, Boston/Foxborough, Toronto) during what will be critical matches early on, where 3 points, impressive performances and late game heroics will be needed. Will this weather be conducive to coach’s and player’s expectations on the field for a significant and vital portion of the season?

Oh, and let’s not forget the fans. MLS, though growing, is still not Europe and will not automatically sell-out games, especially in frigidly cold weather. It’s also important to note that the Winter season in North America is more intense than the Winter season in much of Europe. Granted, Europe takes a month long break, ranging from part of December-part of January. Still, the first few months of the new year in North America is always cold.

At this point, there appears to be too many risky variables involved. While it would be cool to play games on the same schedule as the best leagues in the world, reality must also be considered. Currently, Summer in America mostly consists of soccer and baseball. That’s a good situation for MLS.

If there should be any changes to MLS, the top priority should be to bring back the Shootout: 5 seconds to score on a breakaway from 35 yards out. However, the starting spot should be moved to 25 yards out from goal to allow for slightly more time for the attacking player to be creative.

Bottom line: the shootout was always exciting!

With all the world class talent in Europe, could you imagine if those leagues adopted this measure? If you remember how exhilarating it was to watch MLS players participate in this overtime thrill ride, just think about Messi, Ronaldo, Robben, Özil, Van Persie, Iniesta, Rooney and Torres using their best tricks at pace on Neuer, Casillas and Buffon in a must-score/must-save situation!?

Now that would bring heat and electricity to “the beautiful game” in even the coldest weather.