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June 15, 2010 > Gold Pride to open Pioneer Stadium

Gold Pride to open Pioneer Stadium

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By courtesy of FC Gold Pride

Saturday, June 19, FC Gold Pride hosts its first game in the new digs at recently-renovated Pioneer Stadium on the campus of Cal State University-East Bay in Hayward.

Seating just over 5,000, the soccer-specific Pioneer Stadium will provide FC Gold Pride fans the intimate feel they were looking for - but weren't provided with - in the inaugural WPS season in 2009.

"Having permanent residency at Cal State University, East Bay is a great milestone in what we hope to be many for FC Gold Pride," said Gold Pride GM Ilisa Kessler. "The university faculty and staff, and the city of Hayward, have been super excited about our home opener at Pioneer Stadium.

"We also know that this stadium will mean a lot to our fans as we fight year after year for the WPS Championship," Kessler concluded.

Not only will June 19 be the opening of the new home field, the first game at Pioneer Stadium will mark the first of many new features at Gold Pride games. Most notably, according to Kessler, was the addition of tailgating.

"There were a few restrictions at Santa Clara, with tailgating one of them," Kessler said of the Pride's former home stadium at Santa Clara University. "We don't want fans to come and just watch soccer. We want them to have the whole experience. Part of that is tailgating."

A year ago, the Pride practiced at various locations in the South Bay while sharing Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara University with the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. With the deal in place to play at CSUEB, the Pride will practice on a field adjacent to the stadium, and the organization operations are also located in Hayward.

"Before, our organization was too separate," said Kessler. "This gives us a true home-field advantage, and a sense of cohesiveness between the players and staff."

And that's why the Pride and CSUEB agreed to the two-year deal in December 2009 (with a mutual option for a three-year extension). At CSUEB, there will be neither distractions nor confusion with where the Pride calls home.

"When we signed up with Santa Clara, we didn't have permanent locker space or a training facility," said Pride majority owner Nancy NeSmith. "CSUEB is offering a partnership with all the facilities."

NeSmith also greed with Kessler that tailgating is a great selling point for the fans.

"Fans love the game, and they thought the soccer was great," NeSmith said. "But they wanted more of an all-day event. CSUEB will enable us to do that."

While Pioneer Stadium was under renovations, FC Gold Pride made its temporary home at Castro Valley High School Athletic Stadium, and proceeded to go 3-0-1 in four games, helping the club jump to first place in the WPS standings.

Pioneer Stadium will open up with a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday when the Pride (6-2-1, 19 points) takes on the Boston Breakers (1-3-4, 7 points).

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