The $100-million Avaya Stadium is set to open in March 2015. 

The San Jose Earthquakes announced a 10-year naming rights deal with Santa Clara-based technology company Avaya worth $20 million. After considering a number of different firms, the Earthquakes chose to go with Avaya whose technology will now be featured in the soon-to-be-completed stadium.

“We really wanted to make sure we had someone who was not just a name, but also provided other strategic value,” said Earthquakes president Dave Kaval. “We were really hoping to have a company like Avaya that was a technology company and could enhance the experience at the stadium. When we met with Avaya and really got to know their people and their culture, which is definitely one of innovation and ingenuity, we felt that they were a perfect match.”

Avaya has a strong history of sport sponsorship, including three FIFA World Cup games, the Sochi Winter Olympics and the Montreal Canadiens. A partnership with the San Jose Earthquakes was appealing to Avaya as a global company because of the global reach soccer provides. After their recent move from New Jersey to Santa Clara, this seemed the perfect opportunity. 

“As this came up we really looked for places where we can showcase our technology,” said Deb Kline, North America and Global Technology PR rep for Avaya. “That’s very important as part of a sponsorship. We’re not a consumer brand, so what we look to do is say, ‘What can we do to take what is known and existing today in the case of fan experience and how can we amplify that in some way using our technology?’ This was available and it was in our backyard, so it was pretty much the perfect storm for how all those things came together.”

Avaya Stadium will feature the largest outdoor bar in North America beneath their scoreboard.

After a $100-million construction project, the new 18,000-seat Avaya Stadium will open in March 2015 at the beginning of the Earthquakes’ season. It will feature 882 solar panels to generate enough power to offset usage at regular season games and used reclaimed redwood from Moffett Field’s Hangar One to save dozens of trees in construction. Boasting the largest outdoor bar in North America under the scoreboard, it will also be the first cloud-enabled stadium in Major League Soccer, thanks to Avaya.

“Basically what that means is typically most technology, once installed, is fairly static and once it’s in it’s in, and you’re stuck with it,” said Kline. “But the transition to cloud enables a lot more flexibility as far as evolving, because what’s the biggest best thing in fan experience today, in 10 years will be out of date. If you want to stay on the cutting edge, especially in the area of Silicon Valley, you do want to keep people interested, so the cloud enables us to do that.”

In addition to this, Avaya will provide Wi-Fi and seat ordering in the stadium. The Earthquakes will also be taking advantage of their technology to boost mobile app capabilities when they launch their new Avaya Stadium app next year. The stadium will also benefit from the Avaya Labs.

“For lack of a better word, these are our brainiacs,” said Kline. “These are the folks who just dig into research and create wonderful things and then implement them. This is like a playground for them.”

As an homage to their Silicon Valley location, the stadium bowl uses different colored seats to create a secret message.

The result of this research aims to enhance the fan experience on game days and for fans outside the stadium interacting through social media. The stadium’s location in Silicon Valley played into the Earthquakes’ partnership with a technology company that would be able to keep the fan experience interesting and up-to-date, said Kaval. Embracing their geographical location even more, the stadium bowl will include a coded message using different shades of blue seats.

“The fact that the deal is one of the top three dollar figures in our league in terms of its value,” said Kaval, “I think indicates a lot of things about the success of soccer in Silicon Valley, the Earthquakes and where we’re going as an organization.”

Interviewed for this article: Deb Kline, (908) 953-6179; Frank Stranzl and Dave Kaval, (408) 556-7774