Sunday, July 18, 2021 Field, 1st TV Impressions

Since Columbus Crew's new Field has hosted a couple games it feels like a good time to get out some impressions on how it looks and sounds watching at home.

1. Lighting

The overall feel of live sporting events is heavily influenced by the lighting. Old Crew Stadium was normally bright and sun-drenched during the day with evenings providing purplish/orange hues provided by often cloudy midwestern sunsets. This new Crew Stadium is more or less lighted like a closet. It's dark with sharp contrasts that LED lights give you. Contributing to this feeling are the gray seats and black roof.

2. Audience Noise

The sound emanating from this stadium couldn't be more different from what it was at the fairgrounds. Since it's a new place, there is energy to spare from the fans, but I couldn't help but think it sounded exactly like a Columbus Blue Jackets game. Fans stand and yell throughout the match. Any break, even if it starts in their own half, is cheered on like a hockey break. Paying close attention when the camera zoomed in on the fans (I felt) it looked like CBJ type crowd (there's a lot to that, but not getting into it). If that was what the team was going for, then they have succeeded early on. I don't think they will stick with the sport, however. So the Crew will have to cross that bridge later on. Engaged fan is a good thing, but it is jarring to a soccer fan how it's cheered on like it's another sport. I see it in Nashville as well. It was in Atlanta, but those crowds are quickly thinning for the reason I think it'll thin for Columbus and Nashville. The early adopters are "general sports fan" types. Eventually, MLS isn't meaty enough to hang on to them.

3. Fan Seating

The side facing the main stand camera makes the same mistake the old stadium made - They sit people right on the sideline in individual chairs, spaced out. Old Crew had sort of bar chairs, New Crew has really nice office chair-type seating. A good 10-20 feet behind them (and up) are the rest of the fans. It looks terrible. A lot of teams do it in MLS, it saps the energy out of the viewing experience. If you notice last night after the Darlington Nagbe goal, he charged over the side you can't really see on TV and started high-fiving the fans that were close to the pitch. It was great! but you don't get that on the regular camera and you could hardly see it when they did show it. The announcers talking about how great it was stung a little because it was invisible to the viewer.

4. Advertising

Columbus ordered the extra tall digital ad boards appearently. They are like a castle wall around the pitch. They are not alone in this regard. Teams all over the world of really bad solutions to getting as much advertising facing the camera as possible, but I normally se it in old stadiums. Some of them having Olympic tracks around the pitch. I don't get it here. You want the fans down there hootin' and a hollerin'. Not a wall of ads.


That's it. My critical view of what I watched. The overall vibe is too many vodka Red Bulls INTENSE. Flashing lights, loud music, overbearing announcer, and to top it off a goddamn jackhammer. I mean, it's an NHL/Arena League Football experience - and fine in if you like that. 

My note to the Crew would be thus: It's working now. It's got the, what I would call, Arena District fans to go. But it won't last. They won't latch onto the sport. Same as Orlando, Atlanta, Montreal, San Jose, and soon-to-be Nashville and LAFC. Portland and Seattle work because they sold the sport first and their long history dating back to the old NASL did as well.

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