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Finalists for Best Soccer Crowd, Stadium and Fans Announced by U.S. Soccer

CHICAGO (November 5, 2003) — U.S. Soccer has announced the finalists for a second set of its 11 year-end awards that honor the standout performances of the calendar year in American soccer and make up the second annual “Best of U.S. Soccer” Series.

With the help of U.S. National Team coaches Bruce Arena and April Heinrichs, U.S. Soccer has selected the finalists for these second-year awards. Now it’s up to fans to make their voice heard with a vote in one or all of these unique categories over the next month at, where they’ll have a chance to win a variety of special prizes from Philips Electronics. Online voting for the awards will begin on Monday (Nov. 10) and continue through Tuesday, Dec. 9.

The fourth overall award to be announced is Best U.S. Crowd, which recognizes the best crowd for a domestic U.S. National Team game for the calendar year based on factors like overall attendance, importance of the match and crowd atmosphere. Last year’s winner was a pre-World Cup friendly crowd of over 30,000 that watched the U.S. dispatch Uruguay 2-1 at RFK Stadium on May 12, 2002.

The Best Soccer Stadium finalists include one brand new state-of-the-art soccer shrine in The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.), one storied soccer stadium that just received a mammoth makeover in Soldier Field (Chicago, Ill.) and one of the best converted soccer stadiums in the nation in PGE Park (Portland, Ore.) to go along with last year’s winner, Columbus Crew Stadium, and top venues from the WUSA and the A-League.

Best Soccer Fans promises to be one of the most hotly contested awards in the series, with each of seven cities vying for the prestigious honor and official bragging rights. With last year’s one-of-a-kind winner – Fans who traveled to Korea – not applicable this time around, the honor for a U.S. city will come down to repeat nominees Chicago, Washington, D.C, or Rochester, or first-time finalists like Kansas City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia or Portland.

As the voting for 2003 “Best of U.S. Soccer” awards series concludes, U.S. Soccer will announce the seven suggested candidates for each of the four annual Chevy Athlete of the Year awards: Young Female, Young Male, Female and Male.

As the oldest and most prestigious award of their kind, U.S. Soccer’s Chevy Athlete of the Year awards date back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women, with the winners of the two major awards receiving vehicles from Chevrolet.  For the fourth straight year, fan votes (along with a media vote) will decide the winner. Online voting will begin at in December and run through early January.

The announcement of finalists for each of the Best of U.S. Soccer 2003 awards will be staggered across this week according to the schedule listed below:
2003 Best of U.S. Soccer Award Schedule
Tue., Nov. 4          Best U.S. Soccer Story
                               Best Soccer Bar
                               Best Soccer Store
Wed., Nov. 5        Best Soccer Stadium   
                               Best Soccer Fans
                               Best U.S. Crowd   
Thu., Nov. 6          Best Soccer Promotion
                               Best U.S. Goal—Full National Team   
                               Best U.S. Goal—Youth National Team
Fri., Nov. 7            Best U.S. Performance (Player)   
                               Best U.S. Performance (Team)

This award goes to a domestic U.S. National Team event that you’re proud to say “I was THERE.” Or maybe it was the game that you saw on TV and wished you were there because you could hear the crowd roaring and chanting and it felt like you were there. Below are the five finalists, listed in chronological order:

1) May 8 @ Reliant Stadium -- U.S. MNT 0, Mexico 0 -- 69,582  (sell out)
2) Sept. 21 @ RFK Stadium -- U.S. WNT 3, Sweden 1 -- 34,144
3) Sept. 28 @ Crew Stadium -- U.S. WNT 3, North Korea 0 -- 22,828 (sell out)
4) Oct. 5 @ PGE Park -- U.S. WNT 0, Germany 3 -- 27,623 (sell out)
5) Oct. 11 @ HDC -- U.S. WNT 3, Canada 1 -- 25,253

From enormous, storied MLS stadiums to cozy, soccer-specific WUSA and USL venues, this award goes to the best overall place to watch soccer. This award incorporates everything from U.S. National Team history or success at the venue, to fan turnout/atmosphere, to quality of the field and sight lines, to unique amenities. Here are your seven choices, listed in alphabetical order:

1) Blackbaud Stadium (Charleston, S.C.; 5,113) – The home of '03 A-League champs, which features the Three Lions Pub, perhaps the best stadium club/pub of any venue in the country.
2) Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio; 22,555) – Recent improvements have upgraded original soccer stadium prototype.
3) The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.; 27,500) – Everything about this soccer stadium prototype version 2.0 is state-of-the-art, including the overall complex and the European-style roof.
4) PGE Park (Portland, Ore.; 28,259) – Excellent atmosphere at the cozy downtown venue that is routinely dressed up from baseball to soccer stadium for WWC and Timbers games
5) RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.; 53,000) – Historical stadium provides best East Coast setting.
6) Soldier Field (Chicago, Ill.; 61,343) – Modern meets classic as shiny new stadium reopened to much fanfare and hosted more than 100,000 soccer fans for three matches in October.
7) Torero Stadium (San Diego, Calif.; 7,035) – Host of '03 WUSA Founders Cup III has interesting pit-like feel and provides great scenery surrounding the stadium.

This award goes to the fans that wear red every game and pack the Sam’s Army section for U.S. National Team Games, the MLS fans that travel to their team’s away games and the fans that enter the stadium with parka in hand and dressed for any weather condition that Mother Nature can throw at ‘em. Nothing can stop these fans from seeing their soccer. Here are seven choices for the award, listed alphabetically by city:

1) Chicago, Ill. – Have averaged over 25,000 since returning to the new Soldier Field; Barn Burners continue to be arguably the best supporters’ club in MLS.
2) Kansas City, Mo. – Wizards broke 30,000 mark for first time, and posted their fifth consecutive attendance increase; Also had more than 18,000 in the building for a recent WNT friendly.
3) Los Angeles, Calif. – Led league in attendance with over 300,000 total fans and averaged just under 22,000 (21,983) per game; came out in droves to support all four match dates for 2003 FIFA WWC
4) Philadelphia, Pa. – The “City of Brotherly Love” responded well to their first taste of high-level soccer, posting healthy crowds for both the 2003 FIFA WWC and the Man-U tour stop.
5) Portland, Ore. – Averaged 20,000 for three match dates for 2003 FIFA WWC; A-League’s Timbers were in the top 5 in league attendance with 5,871 per match.
6) Rochester, N.Y. – Led A-League in attendance yet again with average of over 10,000 and have a legitimate claim as SoccerTown, USA.
7) Washington, D.C. – Provided the biggest crowd (34,144) of the 2003 FIFA WWC for the U.S. WNT opener and Opening Ceremonies, while MLS and WUSA attendance averages were solid for yet another season.