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Plenty unique about Riverhounds' Station Square digs

| Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, 12:00 p.m.

Few teams playing in the United Soccer Leagues Pro Division own their stadium, and none will have a facility quite like the one the Pittsburgh Riverhounds will open late this summer in Station Square.

The new stadium, details of which were unveiled Tuesday, features an urban setting with an intimate feel and a view of the Monongahela River and downtown.

"It's very unique," said Chris Smith, partner at TDA Architecture, the Willoughby, Ohio-based firm that designed the facility. "Being so close to the Station Square entertainment district, being on the water and then having the views back to the city were very important to the design. There just aren't that many soccer-only stadiums in the United States right now."

The 3,500-seat stadium with a hybrid-turf surface will cost $7 million and is being funded by private investors, including Highmark — which will have naming rights — Trib Total Media and #1 Cochran Automotive. The name of the stadium has yet to be announced.

Most teams in the league share stadiums with colleges or high schools. The Riverhounds were no exception, playing at Chartiers Valley High School.

They will become the third USL Pro team to own its stadium, joining the Charleston (S.C.) Battery, which built the first privately funded soccer-specific stadium in the country in 1999, and the Rochester (N.Y.) Rhinos.

Blackbaud Stadium seats 5,100 and is located outside of downtown Charleston. Sahlen Stadium, home to the Rhinos, opened in 2006, cost $35 million and has a seating capacity of 13,786.

"I feel like our stadium takes the city aspects of Rochester and mixes it with the beautiful side of the Charleston stadium and puts it in downtown Pittsburgh," Riverhounds CEO Jason Kutney said. "I go down there (to Station Square) every couple of days, and I'm still blown away by the views we're going to have. I know I'm biased, but I think it's the best possible location for this type of stadium."

Team officials expect the venue to draw 600,000 visitors per year. The Pittsburgh Passion women's football team already has signed on to play at the stadium, and the Riverhounds are in talks with two area universities as well as youth and other area rugby and lacrosse teams.

The facility also will hold between 8,000 and 12,000 spectators for live music. Kutney said having the stadium will allow the Riverhounds to explore hosting soccer teams from Europe and elsewhere to play "friendlies" as well as the possibility of bringing women's professional soccer to Pittsburgh.

Construction, weather depending, is scheduled to begin in late March or early April, with the Riverhounds hoping to begin play there in late summer.

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