SBJ/June 2-8, 2014/Facilities

49ers, Earthquakes unite for soccer

The San Francisco 49ers and San Jose Earthquakes have signed a five-year deal to co-promote soccer events at their two new stadiums, which sit five miles apart in the Bay Area.

The two teams struck a partnership that covers sharing the financial risk for booking international matches and U.S. men’s team events at Levi’s Stadium and Earthquakes Stadium, officials with both teams said.

The partners will look to bring soccer events to the new Levi’s Stadium (above) and Earthquakes Stadium, under construction.
Photo by: TERRELL LLOYD
The NFL stadium in Santa Clara, with 68,500 seats, opens in August. The 18,000-seat MLS venue in San Jose is on target to open in early March, Earthquakes President Dave Kaval said.

Officials think two new facilities with grass fields in the same vicinity will be unmatched in terms of their amenities for international clubs and the fans attending those events.

“In the past, we didn’t have the
Photo: COURTESY OF SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
quality of venues available, but now with two unbelievable stadiums, we feel this is the premier location for soccer in the U.S.,” Kaval said. “It’s a great way to promote soccer in the Bay Area.”

The 49ers and Earthquakes are also pushing the region’s great weather and luxury accommodations in their pitch to land events, 49ers President Paraag Marathe said. One example they can point to is the decision by the U.S. men’s team to train and prepare at Stanford University in nearby Palo Alto for World Cup competition, Marathe said.

The joint soccer deal came about through conversations between the two teams as they developed their new stadiums. Marathe and Kaval have a close relationship dating to their days as Stanford business school classmates, and those talks initially resulted in a deal for the Earthquakes to play the Seattle Sounders in an MLS game Aug. 2 as the first official event at Levi’s Stadium. As they continued those discussions, the executives decided to expand the relationship to cover additional events at both stadiums.

Both officials said they will be principally involved in negotiations to bring soccer matches to their respective buildings.

Events pitting higher-profile teams such as FC Barcelona and Manchester United will most likely be targeted for Levi’s Stadium, Kaval said. Conversely, CONCACAF Gold Cup and some U.S. men’s team events would be perfect for the Earthquakes’ facility. “The key is having both venues with different capacities and strengths,” he said.

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