AEG Lands New Soccer Stadium

FC Dallas, the Major League Soccer club formerly called the Dallas Burn, has inked a five-year deal withAEG Live , which will exclusively book the team’s Frisco, Texas, stadium.

The 21,000-seat stadium can be configured to a 27,000 capacity for concerts when it opens in the spring. It is expected to stage eight to 12 concerts per year.

The stadium will include a permanent concert stage on the north end. An underground truck tunnel leading to the stage will accommodate up to five 18-wheelers simultaneously, allowing set-up and spiking of concert stages within a day of soccer matches.

In another coup, the stadium has already been awarded the 2005 MLS championship game in November. The title game has been held at the Anschutz Entertainment Group-built Home Depot Center near Los Angeles the past two years.

In a unique financing deal, FC Dallas owner Hunt Sports Group and three local government entities teamed to create the $65 million, 117-acre Frisco Soccer & Entertainment Complex. The stadium’s name will change as soon as FC Dallas finalizes a naming-rights agreement, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The facility will also be outfitted with $35,000-a-year luxury suites. Adjacent to the stadium are 17 championship-quality soccer fields to be used for community leagues as well as regional, national and international soccer competitions.

The stadium is also expected to help FC Dallas turn a profit for the first time in its nine years of existence. The team previously played at the cavernous Cotton Bowl, without control of merchandising, concessions and other potential revenue streams.

“Before, you were a tenant in a large scale building that was not exactly cost-efficient,” FC Dallas president/GM Greg Elliott told the Star-Telegram. “Now, you have a multiple revenue-stream business. … you have participation in parking and concessions, the ability to control your merchandise, how it’s marketed, displayed and sold.”

Concerts figure to play a major role in the venue’s profitability as well.

“The Frisco Soccer & Entertainment Center will be the state-of-the-art, consumer-friendly large outdoor venue where every seat will be a great seat and the logical extension of our promise to bring the finest-quality live entertainment to this vitally important major market,” AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips said. AEG also operates the NOKIA Theatre at Grand Prairie.

The Frisco facility will be the third soccer-specific stadium among the 12 teams in MLS, joining those in Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio. Hunt Sports Group President John Wagner said as many as eight soccer stadiums could be in operation by 2007.