MLS: Timbers get support for Providence Park expansion

The Portland Timbers moved closer to becoming the first U.S. club in MLS to expand their stadium because of excess demand as the Portland City Council approved a measure supporting plans to add four new levels and about 4,000 new seats to the east side of Providence Park in downtown Portland.

The Timbers plan on privately financing the work, which will cost $50 million, though they are seeking a tax exemption from the city of Portland on tickets sold for the 4,000 new seats for 10 years -- more than $2 million over the 10 years.

Portland's support for the stadium work will become more concrete when the city council votes in May to hire design consultants and in June to approve the tax exemption plan.

The Timbers have a problem rarely ever seen in American soccer. They've sold out every game at Providence Park and have 13,000 fans on the waiting list for season tickets. (Their renewal rate: 99 percent.)

The irony is that Timbers are seeking to build back up the capacity of the former Civic Stadium, which drew 35,548 fans for the NASL's 1977 Soccer Bowl, Pele's final game with the Cosmos.

A $40 million renovation of the stadium took place in 2010 for the Timbers' MLS launch. A complex agreement between the city of Portland and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson called for the city to fund part of the costs through stadium renovation bonds and for Paulson to contribute cash and prepaid rent.

The Timbers also agreed to pay a minimum revenue amount based on a tax on ticket sales. Those revenues, which have exceeded projections each year, go into the city's spectator facilities fund that is used to pay down the stadium renovation bonds.

6 comments about "MLS: Timbers get support for Providence Park expansion".
  1. Paul Cox, May 11, 2017 at 9:12 a.m.

    As much as I hate Portland, good for them, and good for MLS. In a few more years they'll likely be starting to think about expanding the rest of the stadium and get up into the 35K seat range, I bet.

  2. Vince Leone, May 11, 2017 at 11:47 a.m.

    Will they get rid of that #%!# plastic grass?

  3. Asa Christiana, May 11, 2017 at 1:03 p.m.

    I'm with you on artificial turf. I'm a season ticket holder in Portland and I hate it. Timbers staff have said that there isn't enough sunlight in the stadium to keep grass healthy. And I'm guessing there isn't enough money to put in one of those state-of-the-art grass platforms/ systems they use in the Premier League. It's the best turf you can get, but it is still plastic grass, and affects the game. And players knees! Turf grabs too hard. It's not the cushioning anymore.

  4. Albert Harris, May 11, 2017 at 1:16 p.m.

    Are there no lawns in Portland? I'm not an agronomist, but not enough sunlight seems a bit of a reach. Montreal has a grass field at the same latitude. The climatic conditions my be different, but they're getting exactly the same amount of sunshine.

  5. Kent Pothast, May 11, 2017 at 6:06 p.m.

    I have been in Portland area for 45 years. Unproven stories have people walking into their back yards and sinking out of sight, never to be seen again. A true story that I related previously is about a 1980 mayor of Portland who went to a Timbers ceremony. When he left the field with muddy shoes he said that would never happen to him again. Rock-hard Astrotruf was then installed.

  6. Allan Lindh, May 12, 2017 at 11:53 p.m.

    They can grow grass. The crunch will come when they don't let anyone else play or practice on the field. Put steam pipes in the ground to help dry it out, and super good drainage. And look for grass that is a little shade tolerant. Stadium expansion plans should take into account southern exposure. A little soggy in the winter is a dam site better than playing on plastic.

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