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Houston Dynamo to introduce safe standing at BBVA Stadium

Houston Dynamo has become the latest Major League Soccer (MLS) club to commit to safe standing after announcing a multi-phase renovation for BBVA Stadium.

The safe standing section will accommodate 1,200 supporters in the north end of the venue for all Dynamo matches, along with those for National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team Houston Dash.

Dynamo said the project was developed in collaboration with the Hustle Town Supporters Group, which includes El Batallon, the Texian Army, the Surge, Bandera Negra, and Bayou City Republic.

The safe-standing section intends to serve as a centrepiece of BBVA Stadium and continue a growing trend among US soccer-specific venues. Four MLS venues added a safe standing space to their venue in 2021 and construction of BBVA Stadium’s offering will begin shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 MLS and NWSL seasons.

The renovations also include two premium spaces in the south end of the 22,000-capacity venue, which opened in May 2012. These intend to offer an elevated fan experience on match day, beginning in 2022.

The Sports Deck, located in the upper south endline, and the Pitch Zone, located in the south endline, will offer members an all-inclusive food and beverage experience, parking benefits, and event tickets to all regular season Dynamo and Dash matches.

“The club is excited to create this enhanced environment for Hustle Town Supporters, which will amplify their energy and have an even greater impact on the team and all fans at BBVA Stadium,” said Houston Dynamo chief revenue officer, Dionna Widder. “The transformation of both ends will create a unique and diversified experience for fans to add to the electric environment at BBVA Stadium.”

The stadium renovation announcement comes after real estate investor Ted Segal last month took over the Dynamo and Dash, along with the lease rights to BBVA Stadium. Segal’s takeover of the clubs from majority owner Gabriel Brener was reportedly worth $400m (£289.2m/€338.8m).

Houston Dynamo president, John Walker, said: “As we recently saw with the announcement of new ownership and our return to full capacity, we have unquestionable momentum as an organisation.

“Today’s (Thursday’s) announcement further adds to the momentum around the club and we are ecstatic to see the continued evolution of BBVA Stadium later this fall. BBVA Stadium is a premier venue and these new spaces will capture the identity of the city, its diversity, its energy and a unique ability to bring everyone together.”

In other MLS news, FC Cincinnati has appointed financial technology company FIS as the official payments processor at its new TQL Stadium. FIS is providing an integrated set of payment and business solutions designed to enhance the fan experience.

FIS is also working with the club to enhance the stadium’s mobile app experience, through which fans will receive additional solutions later this year. “TQL Stadium is cashless, and we need to provide our fans with fast and secure payment processing,” said Meg Ryan, FC Cincinnati chief marketing officer.

“We strive to provide our fans best-in-sport experiences – and having one of the world’s largest and most innovative fintechs in FIS behind each transaction plays a big role in that mission.”

TQL Stadium staged its first MLS game on May 16. In the first match FC Cincinnati opened for full capacity, against the Colorado Rapids on June 19, TQL Stadium sold out and was attended by 25,054 fans. On that date, FIS processed more than 16,000 food and beverage transactions over a period of a few hours.

“It has only been two years since the first US sports stadium went cashless, and with the rapid digital transformation and increase in contactless payments we have seen during the pandemic, we envision this will soon to be the norm in professional sports,” said Dan Brames, head of North America merchant business at FIS.

Images: Houston Dynamo