Harder Stadium is a 17,000 seat, outdoor multi-purpose stadium on the campus of UC Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, California. Harder Stadium sees most of its present day use as a soccer stadium to the UCSB men's soccer and women's soccer teams. Most recently, this stadium was chosen by the NCAA to host the 2010 Men's College Cup.
The Santa Ynez Mountains can be seen to the north and southerly breezes from the Pacific Ocean can be felt while enjoying an event at the stadium. The stadium was built in 1966 and is named after Theodore "Spud" Harder, a former coach of the Gauchos' football team. The football team played its home games at Harder Stadium until the sport was discontinued after the 1992 season.
Due to its large capacity, Harder Stadium is an ideal venue for professional teams to use for exhibition matches. In 1991, the US Women's National Team (with former Gaucho Carin Jennings) made an appearance right before it went off to China to win the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup. Not to be outdone, the US Men's National Team made an appearance in 1994 against the Romanian National Team. Club teams also join the ranks of squads that have played at Harder Stadium. In 2004, the San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy played a preseason MLS exhibition match in Santa Barbara.
In 2006 and again in 2007, UCSB played exhibition matches against the Columbus Crew, while in 2006, Cruz Azul and the Los Angeles Galaxy played. In 2007, UCSB squared off against Shizuoka SangyoÂÂ University of Japan and in 2009, Club América and Monarcas Morelia matched up and UCSB defeated the Mexican U-17 National Team, 2-1. In 2013, a trio of MLS teams (LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes) played exhibition games at Harder. The stadium has also hosted top-notch concerts throughout the years, including UCSB alum Jack Johnson in 2008.
Harder Stadium Improvements
After months of renovations and upgrades during 2010, UC Santa Barbara's Harder Stadium now features the brand new Curtice Gate - which features a new concessions area - a state of the art scoreboard and video board, a resurfaced Meredith Field, and a renovated press box.
UCSB Soccer Attendance Legacy
With its capacity to seat 17,000 fans, Harder Stadium is the largest stadium on California's Central Coast. Due to its capacity and the success of the UCSB soccer program, Harder Stadium has been noted for high attendance records as one can see below in the Top-10 Harder Stadium Attendance Figures.
What many believed to put Harder Stadium on the map was its 2004 hosting of the College Cup Quarterfinals when UCSB beat Virginia Commonwealth in front of 11,216 fans. This win allowed the Gauchos to reach the College Cup (NCAA Soccer’s “Final Four”). After the game, a group of students celebrated by carrying one of the soccer goals out of the stadium.
Since then, consecutive record breaking attendances have been highlighted by the NCAA and many newspapers around the nation. In the 2009-2010 season, the UCSB set the NCAA Division I single-season men's soccer attendance record with an average count of 4,335 fans per game.
One year later, UC Santa Barbara broke its own record with an average count of 5,873 fans per game, welcoming a grand total of 70,471 fans to Harder Stadium throughout the year. On September 24th 2010, UCSB set the record for the highest attendance at any NCAA (on-campus) soccer match by beating the visiting UCLA team (2-0) in front of 15,896 fans.
As of 2013, the Gauchos have have led the nation in total men's soccer attendance for six consecutive years.
Gaucho Locos Supporter Group
The Gaucho Locos are one of the largest campus organizations at UCSB. The Gaucho Locos were formed in 1998 to promote student involvement in sports, especially Gaucho sports. The club was first formed to give the men's basketball program a much-needed boost of support, after years of futility had eroded the fan base.
The Gaucho Loco fan base quickly became famous for being one of the most intimidating and powerful cheering sections in all of college basketball. With an incredible rise in popularity in the last couple of years,
Their presence at every UCSB soccer game, home or away, is always noted by any spectator, player or coach involved in that game. Non-stop chants, edge-of-your seat action, and united school spirit are just a few features that this yellow sea of fans brings to every game.