The National Football League (NFL) is the most popular sport in the USA, but many of the stadiums used by these teams are also used to host soccer matches.
There are five stadiums in the USA that are called home by both an NFL football team and an MLS soccer club. These are the following:
- Gillette Stadium
- Bank of America Stadium
- Mercedes Benz Stadium
- Soldier Field
- Lumen Field
Soccer has become an increasingly popular sport in the US over the last decade, and NFL stadiums provide a great setting for professional and amateur soccer events. From hosting international friendlies to Major League Soccer (MLS) games, there are numerous benefits to using NFL stadia for soccer fixtures.
Benefits of Playing Soccer in an NFL Stadium
The use of NFL stadiums for soccer games is not a new concept and has been around since at least the early 2000s. Football and soccer teams both need large stadiums to accommodate their fan bases, so shared venues are becoming more common.
But what are the benefits of this practice?
The cost savings of sharing a stadium are immediately apparent, as the costs associated with creating and maintaining two separate venues can be quite high. This is quite significant when the teams have the same owner such as Robert Kraft who owns both the New England Patriots of the National Football League and the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer.
Playing soccer in an NFL stadium offers a unique experience for both players and fans. The state-of-the-art facilities provide the highest quality playing surface, lighting, and audio systems required to host professional soccer matches. Being able to play in such a large capacity venue also creates an atmosphere of passion and excitement that can help bring out the best performance from players.
Additionally, it presents MLS teams with the opportunity to reach a wider audience that may not typically attend soccer games. This helps create more exposure for teams and potentially increases their fan base and overall profits.
Drawbacks of Playing Soccer in an NFL Stadium
One of the major drawbacks of sharing stadiums between two different sports teams is the different playing surfaces. American Football is better played on turf surfaces while for soccer matches natural grass is the best option.
Although some surface areas can be used interchangeably between football soccer stadiums, there are often distinct differences in preparation requirements depending on what game is being played—from changing markings on lines and goals to adjusting field turf levels or drainage systems.
Which are the NFL stadiums that are also used for Soccer MLS matches?
Let’s start by looking at Gillette Stadium. It is a massive complex which is located in a town close to Boston, Massachusetts called Foxborough. It serves as the home stadium and administrative offices for both the New England Patriots of the National Football League and the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer.
The stadium opened in 2002, replacing the adjacent Foxboro Stadium, one of the most iconic stadiums in the United States. Gillette Stadium’s seating capacity is 65,878 and is set to host several matches during the 2026 FIFA World Cup. For the MLS games, the capacity is reduced to 20,000 seats. However, the club does open the entire stadium for MLS Playoffs games
The stadium is owned by billionaire entrepreneur Robert Kraft within his holding corporation called Kraft Group. Gillette Stadium is the only privately owned stadium in the entire NFL.
Kraft, who was always a sports enthusiast purchased two sports organizations in the 1990s: The New England Patriots in 1994, and, the New England Revolution in 1996.
Since that time the two franchises have taken extremely different paths.
Kraft bought the Patriots in 1994 and has turned it into the most successful football team in America since taking ownership. He originally purchased the Patriots for $172 million dollars. Since then, the Patriots have collected
six Super Bowl championships. They are now reportedly worth over $6 billion dollars.
Meanwhile, Robert Kraft’s other franchise, the New England Revolution of the MLS has not shared the success of the Patriots. The team has never managed to win an MLS championship despite the fact that they are part of MLS since its first year back in 1996.
Robert Kraft reportedly wants to build a new smaller stadium in the Boston area so the Revolution can have their own home and create their own culture separate from the Patriots.
Bank of America Stadium
Next up is the Bank of America Stadium, a fortress-like giant arena that was built in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1996.
The facility is owned by the City of Charlotte and is home to the Carolina Panthers of the NFL as well as the Charlotte FC of the MLS. The stadium has a capacity of 74,867 seats for NFL matches. The stadium’s capacity is reduced to 38,000 for most soccer matches.
The Carolina Panthers were originally purchased by a man named Jerry Richardson in 1993 for $206 million dollars.
Billionaire investor, David Tepper purchased the team from Jerry Richardson in 2018 for an NFL record $2.2 billion dollars.
In 2019, Tepper then bought Charlotte FC for $325 million dollars. Tepper’s purchase of the MLS club once again set the record for the highest purchase price in league history.
Charlotte FC began to play in the 2022 MLS season as the league’s 28th franchise. Since then, Charlotte FC set a record for the highest attendance in a single MLS game. A crowd of 73,019 spectators watched the inaugural MLS match for Charlotte FC on March 5, 2022, setting a new league record.
David Tepper has also began advocating for an entirely new arena to be built for both teams.
Mercedes Benz Stadium
The third building on our list is Mercedes Benz Stadium.
It was built as a replacement for the historic Georgia Dom which was demolished in 2017. It serves as the home stadium of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League and Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer. With a 75,000-seat capacity, the stadium will host several 2026 World Cup games.
Sports in Atlanta were forever changed in 2002 when billionaire businessman Arthur Blank purchased the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL for $545 million dollars. Under his tenure, Atlanta Falcons reached their second Super Bowl in 2016, losing to overtime against New England Patriots.
In 2017, Blank purchased the Atlanta United FC with the plan to take sports in Georgia to another level. The team joined the MLS the same year. In 2018 the construction of Mercedes Benz stadium was finalized and marked a new beginning for both of Blank’s franchises.
Mercedes Benz Stadium was reportedly built for $1.6 billion dollars. The contemporary design and futuristic features were meant to re-invent the sports viewing experience. The stadium features 2500 televisions, the largest soccer ball sculpture in the United States, and a Falcon sculpture which is the largest free-standing sculpture in the entire world. The stadium’s signature feature is its retractable roof.
Since Blank moved his teams into the Mercedes Benz Stadium he has celebrated a lot of success.
Atlanta United FC has been shattering all-time attendance records in MLS history since moving into Mercedes Benz Stadium. For most games, Mercedes-Benz Stadium holds 42,500 people but many games are played with all the seats open for the crowd.
In 2018 they earned the MLS title marking the city’s first sports championship since the Atlanta Braves won the World Series in 1995.
There are a lot of things that make Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois special.
It is the oldest stadium in both the MLS and the NFL. The home of the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Fire FC was originally designed in the year 1919 and opened in 1924. It is also the only current MLS stadium that has hosted matches in the 1994 World Cup.
In 2002, the City of Chicago did a complete renovation of Soldier Field’s historic interior. After the renovations, the capacity was downsized from approximately 74,000 people to just over 61,000. It now has the smallest stadium capacity in the entire NFL.
The Bears moved out of Wrigley Field and made Soldier their home stadium in 1971. A former Bears player “Iron” Mike Ditka, was named head coach by team owner George Halas in 1982 and then in 1986 led the Bears to their first and only Super Bowl Championship.
Chicago Fire FC was founded in 1997 and are participating constantly in MLS since 1998. The Fire made a notable achievement by winning both the MLS Cup as well as the U.S. Open Cup (the “double”) in their first season in 1998. Since then they have won the U.S. Open Cup another three times which makes them one of the most successful teams in the competition.
Soldier Field was their home stadium from the beginning since 2005 when they moved to SeatGeek Stadium. In 2019, billionaire entrepreneur Joe Mansueto purchased the club and began to share Soldier Field with the Bears. For most soccer matches the capacity is restricted to 24,955 seats.
Last but not least, we have Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington.
Lumen Field (previously known as CenturyLink Field) is home to both the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL as well as the Seattle Sounders of the MLS.
It opened in 2002 and has a capacity of 68,740. It is one of the venues that will host the 2026 World Cup.
When the stadium was designed, the architect’s intention was for the stadium to get really loud at full capacity. And they most definitely executed.
In 2011, during a playoff game, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch scored a famous touchdown that was nicknamed the “Beast Quake”. The reason is that Marshawn Lyn ch’s nickname was “Beast Mode” and the fans’ celebration was so loud that it set off a signal on a nearby seismograph.
Seahawks fans at Lumen Field claimed the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd roars at an outdoor stadium, in 2013 at 136.6 decibels. In 2014 the fans broke their own record by measuring in at 137.6 decibels. The rambunctious fan base earned the nickname “12th Man” because they were so impactful on the outcomes of Seahawks games helping them to reach three Super Bowl finals and winning one.
Though the Sounders fans can get rowdy, the atmosphere at their games isn’t quite on par. This is because the capacity is cut from about 68,000 people at Seahawks games to 38,000 at the Sounder’s soccer matches.
The Sounders are one of the most successful MLS teams in the last years having won 2 championships since their first appearance back in 2009. They have also won 4 U.S. Open cups and are the current champions of CONCACAF Champions League.