When Blackbaud Stadium opened in the spring of 1999, it was the first privately funded soccer-specific facility in the United States.
The stadium was built by Tony Bakker, who also owned the Charleston Battery soccer club.
In the two decades since its opening, the facility — which became MUSC Health Stadium in 2015 — has hosted soccer teams from Major League Soccer, Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico. Also in that time span, the Battery won three USL championships.
But soccer wasn’t the only use for the venue. The Southern Ground Music and Food Festival, headlined by the Zac Brown Band, found a home on Daniel Island.
The stadium has also hosted the U.S. national rugby team and professional wrestling along with countless beer and music festivals.
Unless something unexpected happens in the USL playoffs, the Battery's victory over Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday was the last match to be played at the stadium.
Eric Bowman, who bought the Charleston Battery soccer team and the stadium in 2016, recently sold the facility for $6.4 million. The new owner, Holder Properties, is expected to tear down the stadium to make room for commercial or residential development. The soccer club has been seeking a facility to use in downtown Charleston for the 2020 season.
Here are the Top 10 soccer moments in MUSC Health/Blackbaud Stadium history:
10. Charleston Battery vs. Atlanta Silverbacks
Date: April 23, 1999
The Battery opens Blackbaud Stadium in style, beating rival Atlanta, 3-0, before a sellout crowd in the first regular-season match in the facility.
The Battery got second-half goals from Rashad Miller, Mike Burke and Derick Brownell in the victory.
Fittingly, Miller, a former College of Charleston standout, got the first goal in Blackbaud Stadium history.
"I remember we were scrambling to get everything done in time for the opening," Bakker said. "I think we were still painting the day before hoping that the paint would dry in time. It was more a sense of relief than accomplishment at the time, although it was a night to remember."
9. Battery vs. West Bromwich Albion
Date: July 16, 2015
The Charleston Battery nearly pulled off an upset in its second match against an English Premier League team when West Bromwich Albion came to the Lowcountry.
Saido Berahino and Brown Ideye each scored as West Bromwich defeated the Battery, 2-1, before a sellout crowd.
Charleston’s Navion Boyd scored off a deflected ball in the 57th minute to tie the game at 1-1 before Ideye got the game-winner late in the second half.
8. Charleston Battery vs. Houston Dynamo
Date: July 1, 2008
The Battery defeated the two-time defending MLS champions on penalty kicks (4-3) in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. The Battery would become just the second USL club to advance to the U.S. Open Cup final, losing to D.C. United, 2-1, in the championship game. It took a Herculean effort from the Battery, which played two men down for most of the overtime periods, as midfielder Osvaldo Alonso dazzled the crowd with his end-to-end runs.
Dusty Hudock then made a diving save on Franco Caraccio in the fifth round of the shootout to end the match.
"In my opinion, Osvaldo Alonso’s performance that night was the greatest individual performance ever by a Battery player," Bakker said.
7. Charleston Battery vs. Richmond Kickers
Date: Aug. 28, 2010
This was the third of four USL championships — and the second at home — that the club captured. This one came against long-time rival Richmond.
Lamar Neagle scored in the first half and Ian Fuller got the game-winner early in the second half as Charleston defeated Richmond, 2-1, to capture the USL Second Division championship. The Battery had to play a man down for the final hour of the match after defender Colin Falvey was issued a red card in the 30th minute.
"Even a man down we defended properly, and you can't win a championship without defending well," said Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser.
6. Charleston Battery vs. Wilmington Hammerheads
Date: Sept. 8, 2012
The Charleston Battery celebrated its 20th season of existence in grand fashion, winning its fourth league title by shutting out Wilmington 1-0 in the championship game of the USL Pro Division.
Mike Azira, who would go on to play in the MLS with the Seattle Sounders, got the game-winning goal in the 74th minute.
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the club’s 20th anniversary than to win another championship,” Anhaeuser said.
5. Kaká/David Villa in Carolina Challenge Cup
Date: Feb. 19-26, 2015
For one glorious week, Lowcountry soccer fans were able to see two European soccer legends in Brazil’s Kaká and Spain’s David Villa.
Kaká was playing for MLS’ Orlando City SC, while Villa suited up for New York City FC during the Battery’s annual Carolina Challenge Cup tournament. Kaká was the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year, while Villa came into the tournament as Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer.
While Kaká and Villa might have been in the twilight of their careers, both were still able to perform at a high level for their respective MLS teams.
“It was kind of surreal to be on the same field playing against Kaká and David Villa,” said Battery captain Taylor Mueller. “I remember tackling Kaká one time and him not being too happy about it. It was certainly one of the highlights of my career.”
4. U.S. Women’s Soccer
The U.S. Women’s national soccer team played three exhibition matches at Blackbaud Stadium, but it was the 2002 squad that featured many of the players that headlined the 1999 World Cup team. Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly all played during the U.S.’s 7-0 win over Mexico.
Mia Hamm, however, was injured and did not play in the 2002 match. Hamm would return to the Lowcountry and score the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Iceland in 2003. Abby Wambach scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Mexico in 2005.
“Having Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, July Foudy and Kristine Lilly playing those matches were just huge for the club,” said former Battery president Andrew Bell.
3. Charleston Battery vs. Bolton Wanderers
Date: July 17, 2010
The Bolton Wanderers became the first club from the English Premier League to play a “friendly” match against the Battery. In 2004, Sunderland traveled across "the pond" to face the Battery, but the Black Cats had been in England’s championship division, a step below the EPL.
The match drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 6,000 as fans had to park more than a half-mile away on Daniel Island.
The Wanderers defeated the Battery, 2-0, behind a goal and an assist behind team captain Kevin Davies.
“It’s a night that I won’t ever forget,” said former Charleston Battery defender Colin Falvey, who went head to head against Davies and exchanged jerseys with the Bolton captain after the game. "For a kid from Ireland, this was a dream come true."
2. Charleston Battery vs. Minnesota Thunder
Date: Sept. 20, 2003
Just four years after the opening of Blackbaud Stadium, the Battery fields arguably the most talented team in franchise history.
Charleston defeated the Minnesota Thunder, 3-0, to capture the club’s second championship in front of a crowd of more than 5,700. Ted Chronopoulos, Paul Conway and Steve Klein all scored in the opening half as the Battery cruised to victory.
"The 2003 team was probably the strongest team we ever had," Bakker said. "Our expectations were high that year. It was a special night.
1. Charleston Battery vs. D.C. United
Date: Aug. 4, 1999
Major League Soccer’s D.C. United came to the Lowcountry looking to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup and thinking the match was going to be an easy victory.
It didn't take long for the visitors to realize that the Battery wasn’t going to be intimidated. Charleston jumped out to a two-goal advantage in the opening 30 minutes and eventually won, 4-3, on Ivailo Ilarionov's overtime goal in the 100th minute.
D.C. United was less than pleased with the final result, especially to a second-tier opponent. D.C. United players broke a pair of coffee pots and shower heads in the visitors locker room.
Since that game, fans of both teams have brought the “Coffee Pot Cup” to each game with the losing team providing the beer to fill up the cup following the match.
“D.C. United was the gold standard at the time and to beat a team like that on our home field in the U.S. Open Cup really put the club on the map nationally,” said former Battery forward Paul Conway.