After the Ravens held their final practice before heading to Los Angeles on Thursday, head coach John Harbaugh had his press conference. The Ravens will play their first game in a soccer-specific stadium stateside in team history.
I posed the question: “Is this the first time, that you can recall, playing in a soccer stadium?”
“Yes,” Harbaugh stated, which was followed by laughter from other reporters.
I followed up with: “How do you feel like the atmosphere will be?”
“I think it’ll be pretty good, actually,” said Harbaugh. “Over the years, you play in smaller stadiums and they turn out to be really great and really fun and tight and loud. So, just not really worried about it. It’s the game we’re thinking about.
“It’ll be interesting, and I think it will be kind of exciting. I know our guys are excited to get out there and play, more than anything, because of who we’re playing and what’s at stake, the challenge of the guys we are playing against and what we have a chance to accomplish.”
My friend alerted me to something. This won’t be the first time that the Ravens have played in a soccer stadium during Harbaugh’s tenure. On September 24, 2017, Baltimore had a dreadful day at Wembley Stadium in London, losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars 44-7.
However, there is a big difference between the size of Carson, CA’s StubHub Center and London’s Wembley stadium. Built in 2002, the StubHub Center has a current capacity of 27,000, which is set to eventually expand to 30,000 in the coming years. On the other hand, Wembley seats a maximum capacity of 90,000 fans during soccer matches.
The Chargers are easily ranked the lowest in attendance in the NFL. Through six home games, 152,273 fans have checked into the stadium. However, when you take into account the percentage of seats filled in the stadium, the Chargers rank 22nd at 94%.
With the Chargers holding an 11-3 record and in a dogfight with the Chiefs for first place in their division, one would expect the small stadium to be rocking on Saturday.