It wasn't even a year and we already know that its capacity isn't enough. But this was what MLS requested, so this is what they've got. And compared to other MLS venues, this one clearly stands out. Not that it doesn't deserve to...
It's sold out week in, week out. Clearly, 22,000 isn't enough for Houston, but MLS guidelines for each club expect to have a modest venue instead of a larger American-football one. So we have to forgive BBVA Compass Stadium its insufficient capacity. Likewise, we can swallow the uneven seating layout, this still isn't common in MLS.
Also, we could argue about the roof covering some sections and omitting others. But then – this is Texas, a place where people don't see stadium roofs as anything but a European invention. And as far as Texas goes, this is more European than we'd think it might be. Not even mentioning the Houston skyline visible from many sections. Not a bad one!
What we had to like is the exterior, obviously. Nothing impressive in aerial view, but from pedestrian perspective this is instantly recognisable. In a good way, you can try and find an equal comparison anywhere. Combining vivid orange with mat mesh allows both for great ventilation and proper sunlight for catering facilities In terms of aesthetics, we didn't find anything we could charge Populous with.
Maybe the giant screen on the outer façade may be seen as too much from a European perspective, but still, it's nowhere near Arlington. So isn't placing cover over the the telescopic lower stand behind goal, especially if we're in the strict centre of Houston. Even if this isn't innovative, it has to be justified by non-football use.
Overall, this is one of the most interesting venues in the MLS so far, if not the single best. Will it do equally well over the course of 'Stadium of the Year 2012'? This we still have to wait and see until February 24, when vote results are published...