On Saturday the Montreal Impact reopened their renovated Stade Saputo with a 4-1 win against the Seattle Sounders. The stadium is the next addition to an impressive list of recently opened soccer-specific Major League Soccer stadiums.
Stade Saputo originally opened in 2008 to serve as the playing venue for the Montreal Impact that were at that time still a lower division team. It was a rather basic affair with four separate mainly uncovered stands that could hold just over 13,000 fans.
When in 2010 the Montreal Impact got presented as the MLS’ 19th expansion team it was therefore clear that an expansion and upgrade of the stadium was part of the deal.
Works on the stadium started in October 2011 and were originally aimed at having the stadium ready at the start of the 2012 season, the first of the Impact in the MLS. Delays however made this impossible and the Impact were forced to play their first five home games at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, during which they recorded some spectacular attendances. Most notable was a crowd of over 60,000 witnessing the visit of Beckham’s LA Galaxy.
The redevelopment of Stade Saputo has raised capacity to just over 20,000, though surprisingly it was not completely sold out for its opener.
The stadium is now enclosed on three sides and has seen a large number of corporate facilities added. It also boasts a new roof, though in typical MLS-style it is hardly functional and only covers a few rows of seats.
The opening of Stade Saputo follows recent (re)openings of stadiums in Houston, Kansas City, and Vancouver, though it is arguably a much more modest affair than the new stadiums in these cities. Of all MLS teams this only leaves the San Jose Earthquakes, DC United, and New England Revolution without a soccer-specific stadium, of which the first two have plans or hopes to build one.
Photos: © impactmontreal.com