Over the past two-and-a-half weeks, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park complex has been a beehive of activity. From the team boot room being adorned with colorful cleats and gloves to landscapers trimming dormant xeriscape vegetation and sign hangers posting imaginative Rapids96 graphics—this picturesque, soccer-specific stadium complex has been getting into its own shape as the players give their all on the training pitch. Excitement is in the air ahead of the 2020 season home opener against the Orlando City SC.
Day-in and day-out, the jovial Burgundy Boys have been soaking up the brilliant Colorado sunshine during their training sessions, both on the turf fields and in the hollow stadium. The picture-perfect field is well-manicured and already emerald green. Inside, the position players have been absorbing lesson plans from Head Coach Robin Fraser during their near-daily video review lectures. After intensive field-side workouts, some players can be found down the hall receiving treatment in the comforts of the spacious physical therapy clinic.
Up on the concourse, concession stands are being filled with new food and beverage options, while the team’s store has been stockpiling fresh garb and team accessories. From the stands, ticket and membership sales professionals, front office management—as well as media types—have been critically eyeing field-long 11v11 scrimmages, while a few well-trusted and long-time fans are filling in their spreadsheets and debating on who will make this week’s Starting XI.
Surrounding DSGP, the still free-of-charge (and free of plague-infested fleas) parking lots remain just that—free. The Centennial 38 Supporters Group area is downright yearning for its members and their guests to giddy-on-over and start tailgating. And from afar, the stadium itself does look a bit like a modern-day version of a fortress. All that is missing are thousands of local homesteaders and mighty pioneer men, women and children to defend her, and watch 90+ minutes of end line-to-end line attacking soccer—the new and much improved #RapidsWay.
As Rapids EVP & GM Padraig Smith stated in his preseason address earlier this week: “...The supporters and the culture that we create is so crucial, not only to our off-field side but also and on-field side as well, too. Believe me. The players talk about it all the time. They do not want to not walk out to an empty stadium. They make it a point to talk about the fans that are out there week-in, week-out, day-in and day-out, in some cases. It means a lot to them.”
See you all on Saturday!
All photos in the gallery below were taken by John A. Babiak: