By Zachary Baru
In the soccer world, there has been so much news over the last decade about soccer-specific stadiums. Venues have popped up in many different markets throughout the country, while there is a lot of news about potential venues being built in others, such as the Boston area. But don't forget about the one right here in our own backyard.
Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow holds approximately 3,000 fans and provides an intimate soccer experience. Set within the community, the stadium gives soccer fans a chance to take in a game that has a much different feel than most other soccer stadiums can offer, similar to the setting of some lower-tier European league stadiums.
Lusitano Stadium is home to the Western Mass. Pioneers, members of the USL Premier Development League, an under-23 amateur league competing in the fourth tier of American soccer. It has hosted the New England Revolution in charity exhibition against the Pioneers, as well as the Revolution in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Years ago after a Revolution U.S. Open Cup match at Lusitano, a member of the media from the then-named ESPN Soccernet wrote an article about the Ludlow venue. The writer pointed out how special it was to see people being able to stand just feet away from Major League Soccer players along fences surrounding the pitch. It is features such as these that make Lusitano truly special.
This season marks the first for Lusitano Stadium's brand new field, as a ProGrass Game Turf has been freshly installed. While there will be many who prefer soccer to be played on natural grass, the turf combines a traditional soccer stadium with new technology, giving Lusitano a new look, while preserving the same traditional feel the venue has always offered.
With so much news about soccer-specific stadiums in Major League Soccer, and even in lower leagues, it is easy to forget about the one right here in Ludlow. It may not have the amenities of newer stadiums, but it has character that can only be experienced at Lusitano Stadium, one of New England soccer's hidden gems.
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at email@example.com.