The San Jose Earthquakes' new home Avaya Stadium hosted its first Major League Soccer game Saturday, a preseason game against the rival L.A. Galaxy.
In Saturday's "soft opener," at least 10,000 people were expected to come out for the event, so fans should be prepared for traffic near the new stadium, located right next to San Jose airport. Fans can avoid traffic all together by taking VTA there. Saturday was just a test, so only 10,000 fans were allowed in, but when the season starts, all 18,000 tickets will be available.
Earthquake fan Larry Fredlund gives the new facility a big thumbs up.
“It’s a fabulous place," Fredlund said. "I’m really looking forward to having a great season, and hope the team does a little better this year.”
The loud noise and traffic congestion on game days brings crowds--and that is good for business, local business owners said. The owner of MOD Pizza said he is hoping to make new customers out of Quakes fans.
Not everybody liked the huge traffic jam, as a long line of cars could be seen along Coleman Avenue. Critics of the stadium were afraid of this because there is only one major road in or out of Avaya.
Those who got there early, though, beat the traffic.
“We got here about two hours ago," Alex Adame said. "Just enough time to tailgate, have a good time with friends.”
“No traffic. Pretty exciting," Adame added. "It was easy to get here, pretty easy.”
But Campbell resident Valerie Hamilton said she had a more difficult experience.
“It took me about 20 minutes to get three blocks." Hamilton said. "Then, I went into the VIP by mistake. That’s another 10 minutes.”
Traffic got so jammed off Newhall Drive, police had to block off the turn lane into the Coleman Landings Shopping Center, so confused drivers would not go there and disrupt business.
The mayor of San Jose said he looked forward to the turnout.
"When you have assets like this, a place of public gathering space where people feel part of one community, it starts to create a sense of pride," mayor Sam Liccardo said.
The $100 million Avaya Stadium is also home to the largest outdoor bar in North America. The soft opener game started at 2 p.m. and ended with a victory for the home team. The Earthquakes beat the L.A. Galaxy 3-2 in the stadium's unofficial debut.
Officials have three weeks to figure out crowd management at Avaya Stadium. The first official game is March 22 against the Chicago Fire -- and all 18,000 seats are expected to be sold then.