Back in April, I got invited to attend a panel discussion with some local soccer dignitaries involving a discussion of the Dallas 2026 World Cup host city bid, the greater MetroPlex soccer landscape, and the impact of the 1994 World Cup on the region. In the audience were some members of the Dutch FA and some front-office types from a number of Dutch clubs.
The presentation isn’t the point of this article but during the talk, FC Dallas owner Dan Hunt – a member of the panel – mentioned potential capital investment and upgrades to Toyota Stadium.
So after the presentation, I cornered… er, um, I mean… I interviewed Dan Hunt to get the details.
“We spend a lot on the maintenance of the stadium to make sure it’s an attractive place.” Hunt said when I asked about his stated desire for Toyota Stadium improvements, “But we need to continue to improve the stadium and from a technology standpoint, it’s got to have significant improvement. We know that.”
Hunt says there are some things that the club wants to do on a digital front involving technology for mobile devices. He also acknowledges the stadium itself needs upgrades and not just in the area of improved concessions and merchandise spaces.
“Toyota Stadium is a great stadium but it has a vintage [feel] to it. So we want to continue to improve suite spaces and address our east side,” Hunt explained. “That’s probably the area that needs the most attention in our stadium.”
“So, we’re actively spending time right now with architects on what we can do on the east side to improve that experience significantly. I don’t want to give away too much because we’re in the idea side.”
According to Hunt, any improvements also involve more than just the Hunts’ desires as the City of Frisco remains the landlord and is part of the process.
In addition to the east side of Toyota Stadium, Hunt also cited the area around the venue as being important for club and city noting the club has control of that space. “What’s going to benefit all of us is having a cool experience around the stadium. So we’re talking too about that stuff.”
“I just want the consumer experience to be dramatically better. That’s more points of sales, better restrooms, things like that,” Hunt said of Toyota Stadium. “Then obviously [we need to] address some of the stuff on the east side that you hear fans talk about all the time. So we’ve got some ideas and we’re working through it.”
Another hot topic in the fanbase is the massive stage on the north end of the stadium. A space that is currently underutilized and not contributing to the positive consumer experience. Hunt knows that space is an issue.
“It’s a massive space, the stage side. I would actually like to shrink the overhang of that, bring it down.”
“I would like for us to maybe put some restrooms and concessions over time there, as we kind of repurpose it. But I think one of the big things is just shrinking the overall space,” Hunt explained.
Hunt went on to tease the new FC Dallas shield that was debuted on the stage for the Texas Derby game against Houston Dynamo. While not a perfect execution, it’s the opinion of this author that it’s a step in the right direction.
Hunt says much more can be done.
“There’s also an opportunity, I think, for boards. You could do some cool things with digital boards off the stage that I would like to see. We’ve seen some concepts and talked about it over time and so they’re just a number of things.”
While reiterating the value of the stage to the business, Hunt acknowledges it could be a much better situation.
“It’s not lost on any of us, that at the time it was a smart idea and a great business decision to put a permanent stage in,” Hunt said. “But I don’t know that the dimensions are right. And I think we’re now at a point where we have an opportunity again to try to maximize it.”
One common suggestion is to return the supporters to the north end but it doesn’t seem that’s in the cards.
“I love having our supporters in the south end. I think they’re loud. I think they create atmosphere. They’re by the player tunnel. They’re by the player warm-ups. They wanted safe standing. They’re close to concessions and restrooms. I think it’s a really good fit.”
“They did a great job on the north side but I like where they are now,” Hunt concluded. It’s much more engaging for the entire stadium.”