What's the smallest stadium in MLS?

Discover the charm and curiosities of PayPal Park, home of the San Jose Earthquakes
Orlando City SC v San Jose Earthquakes
Orlando City SC v San Jose Earthquakes / Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/GettyImages

When we think of Major League Soccer (MLS) stadiums, those massive arenas holding tens of thousands of fans, bright lights, and infrastructure that impresses even the most skeptical come to mind. However, in San Jose, California, there's a real gem that defies this grand notion: PayPal Park. With a capacity of about 18,000 people, this soccer-specific stadium not only hosts the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS but also carries stories and peculiarities.

Opened on February 27, 2015, PayPal Park stands out not for its grandiosity, but for its efficiency and the welcoming charm it offers visitors. The structure was built with private investment, not a single penny from San Jose's public coffers. A key detail is the commitment of Lewis Wolff, then owner of the San Jose Earthquakes, who pledged to cover the stadium's maintenance costs for a lengthy 55 years.

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The first game held at the stadium was a preseason friendly between San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy on February 28, 2015. Since then, PayPal Park has become the stage for unforgettable moments, like the 2016 MLS All-Star Game, which brought Arsenal, one of the Premier League giants, to face the MLS stars. And that's not all; the US Women's National Team also left their mark by playing one of their farewell series matches before the 2015 Women's World Cup at the stadium.

The stadium is home to Bay FC of the NWSL and recently, in 2022, it also started hosting the games of San Jose Earthquakes II in MLS Next Pro. As if that weren't enough, Bay FC signed a five-year deal to play at PayPal Park while planning the construction of its own stadium.

PayPal Park's infrastructure is another highlight. With a roof that shields fans from rain and sun, the stadium also offers some of the steepest seats in the MLS, providing a prime view of the field. It's as if every detail was thought out to give the fan the best possible experience, without missing a single play. Not to mention the welcoming atmosphere that makes anyone feel at home.

It's no exaggeration to say that PayPal Park is a perfect blend of tradition and modernity, a place where the past and future of soccer meet harmoniously. It's a true lesson in how a stadium, even small, can have a gigantic impact.