RICHMOND, Va. — English Premier League club Crystal Palace commenced its pre-season tour of the United States Wednesday night with a 2-2 tie at Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew.
Philadelphia Union provides the next tune-up for Tony Pulis’ side Friday before The Eagles conclude their three-game trip at the Richmond Kickers, the reigning United Soccer Leagues PRO Division regular-season champion.
Palace fans making the trek to Virginia’s state capital will be visiting one of the oldest venues in U.S. soccer. City Stadium opened in 1929 as the home of the Richmond Spiders college football team, making it about 70 years older than the majority of stadiums in North America’s three professional soccer leagues.
City Stadium boasts one of the finest playing surfaces in the country with its immaculate grass field. Conditions for spectators are a different story. Deterioration of the stands has been setting in for some years. The heavily rusted McCloy Street structure is closed to the public and large tarpaulin sheets section off the terraces behind both goalmouths. Available seating is limited to less than half of the stadium’s 22,000 capacity.
The Soccer Observer visited Richmond in May when the Kickers tied 1-1 with the Rochester Rhinos in USL action. This video-slideshow gives a behind-the-scenes look at the fusty City Stadium facility.
Richmond’s town councilors and planners have proposed various options for regeneration of the 20-acre site including construction of apartments, a senior-citizen community or an indoor athletic complex.
For now, the Kickers remain City Stadium’s sole tenants after the University of Richmond built an on-campus venue for its 2010 college football season.
Providence Park, home to the Portland Timbers MLS franchise, opened its gates in 1926 when it was known as Multnomah Stadium. The USL’s Wilmington Hammerheads play at the city’s Legion Stadium, which dates back to the 1930s.
Two Canadian sides in the North American Soccer League – F.C. Edmonton and Ottawa Fury – play on sites that have undergone intensive redevelopment since their original pre-Second World War structures.
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