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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. 

OH-It’s Good to be Home

Crew Stadium will once again play the patriotic host to a pivotal World Cup qualifying match. This evening, under a Midwestern blanket of stars, the United States of America will battle “That Team Down South.”

The stands will be painted with jerseys and shirts that will proudly showcase the brightest and boldest color combinations of red, white and blue. The chanting and support will be relentless because, honestly, it’s the USMNT’s homecoming.

The fans, players and coaches all know what’s waiting for them. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. on ESPN, but the excitement has been building since the last match four years ago.

The stage is set for another defining 90 minutes of American soccer.

For the United States, tonight’s game can (should) provide this squad with a unique window into the future. Can the Americans regroup after suffering an embarrassing loss in Costa Rica 3-1 in a matter of just a few days with a depleted starting lineup (injury and yellow card accumulations)? Like today, and potentially during the summer of 2014 in Brazil, can the red-white and blue prove to have a short memory. When maximum points and victories are necessary and when the team is forced to travel between games, will Jürgen Klinsmann’s team rise to the occasion?

When an individual is under pressure, there are only two reactions: get crushed or push back.

The United States vs. Mexico is an incredible soccer rivalry. Luckily for the American players and fans, they will feel right at home in Columbus, Ohio. In the three World Cup Qualifying games played between these two nations at Crew Stadium (2001, 2005 and 2009), the United States has won all three games with a final tally of 2-nil.

Or, in better words: Dos a Cero.

There have been great goals, hard tackles, beautiful passes, yellow cards and McBride’s “eye wide shut.”

With three games left in World Cup qualifying and a point differential of 1 between the United States and first-place Costa Rica, 5 between the U.S. and Mexico and 6 between Costa Rica and Mexico, tonight’s match is critical for both teams.

The stakes are undeniably high. The rivalry is real. This is the game and Crew Stadium is the venue!

To build the suspense even more, there will be several intriguing story lines playing out tonight in the heat inside (but really outside) the house Lamar built.

  • Without the maestro in the middle, can the U.S. be guided without the quiet, steady leadership of Michael Bradley?
  • How will Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey play together in such a vitally important game? Will they be the catalysts or finishers on goals?
  • Will Mexico, having fired its head coach last Saturday morning, be dejected or inspired by pride?
  • How many yellow and red cards will the ref show or not show?
  • Will Chicharito (Javier Hernández Balcázar) play like a Manchester United star?
  • Besides Tim Howard, which American player will take the strategic and emotional leadership role tonight? FYI-This responsibility is not limited to the man wearing the captain’s armband…
  • Does the American side have a reliable and dependent back line?
  • Will the United States of America pull off another paramount victory in front of its best crowd?

Now, the most critical question: will it be miraculously cold tonight like back in 2001? The forecast says mid-80s, so probably not. But remember: this is Columbus, where the hopes and dreams of American soccer fans, players and coaches come true…

Plus, it all depends on how you define “cold.”

Another 2-nil win for the U.S. could seriously start to freeze the hopes of a berth to the 2014 World Cup in sunny Brazil for “That Team Down South.”

I’m getting chills just thinking about it!

The Crew 2.0

According to thecrew.com, San Francisco’s Anthony Precourt of Precourt Sports Ventures, LLC has become the new owner of the Columbus Crew. Remarkably, Preourt is only the second owner of “America’s Hardest Working Team” since its 1996 inception as a Charter Member of Major League Soccer. Yesterday marked not only the transition from the legendary Hunt Sports Group, but also represented a seismic shift in the operations and management of the Columbus Crew.

Ceremonial jubilation aside, a significant dynamic has been created. After Precourt was handed the keys to America’s first soccer-specific stadium, he and his company just may have turned the front office of the Columbus Crew into an up-and-coming venture capital start-up…with 18 years experience and championships on the shelf, including 2008’s MLS Cup.

Throughout the Crew’s long history, patience has been a cornerstone of the organization. There are several instances of when this has been a tremendous asset. This degree of trust is a unique quality in today’s fast-paced world. Conversely, if things started to go poorly, at least in the eyes of the dedicated fans, the front office has been quite glacial to make any drastic and necessary changes. A prime example of this mentality is the fact that Robert Warzycha is still the head coach.

However, successful businesses do not operate with this much elasticity. Data points are constantly analyzed and debated, with necessary adjustments made when appropriate. Precourt, and this is only from an initial impression, appears to be of the mindset that success does not occur when one is losing. Again, Warzycha is still the head coach. Spending the past five seasons watching the same movie on repeat has gotten old and frustratingly predictable.

Crew fans are very cognizant that Warzycha was the head coach that directed the team that won the MLS Cup in 2008 under head coach Sigi Schmid to a squad that couldn’t win a playoff game in 2009.

The point is that Precourt and his business partners appear interested in obtaining success while simultaneously appealing to and growing the incredible fan base in Ohio’s capital city. It’s potentially an adaptation of the European football culture: treating the team, roster and results like a business, while engaging fans, creating a fun atmosphere and generating a lovable brand. He said in a recent interview that success begins on the pitch.

And I can safely assert that every Crew fan hopes he intends to begin with the field located in Columbus Crew Stadium.

Have You Seen the LA Gear Nerf Guns!?

Like others, there are bands that I like that I’ve discovered well before they become widely known, “big” and/or mainstream and I take quite a bit of pride in this when it happens. It’s a special moment and is really cool when this occurs! Amusingly, the clip below illustrates the lengths some music fans will go to portray themselves as the most “in” of all those who are “in” when it comes to knowing the next “big band.”

It’s time for a “Lie Witness News” report!

As a nice, relaxing treat to ease you into the weekend, enjoy this funny bit from Jimmy Kimmel Live that contains interviews from fans from this year’s Coachella in the desert of Santa Barbara, California. It’s a gigantic musical festival that typically features a few massively popular bands and a long list of smaller indie groups, some on the cusp of making it to our radios, hearts and wallets.

That is, if they even exist…