SBJ/March 14-20, 2011/In Depth

Construction zone

MLS has been an active market for stadium construction. Here are some of the highlights:

Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo broke ground on the tentatively named 22,000-seat Houston Dynamo Stadium on Feb. 5, and the club hopes to complete construction by June 2012. The club has been playing at the University of Houston’s Robertson Stadium. Covered in an orange, metallic skin, the new stadium will feature a canopy-covered single bowl and 33 luxury suites and 1,100 club seats. The club will pay $60 million of the stadium’s reported $110 million cost, with a local tax initiative covering the rest. Designed by Populous, the stadium will sit a short walk from Minute Maid Park, the Toyota Center and downtown Houston.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The Whitecaps will open their inaugural MLS season at 21,000-seat Empire Field in the Burnaby Heights neighborhood of Vancouver while their eventual home, BC Place, undergoes a $563 million renovation that will create a 20,000-seat soccer configeration. The construction project includes the installation of 36 steel masts, which will hoist a fabric roof to fend off British Columbia’s regular rainfall. The Whitecaps hope to move into BC Place by Oct. 2. For regular-season games, the club plans to open 21,000 seats at Empire Field and approximately 20,000 at BC Place.

Sporting Kansas City

KC Stadium
The anchor of Sporting Kansas City’s (formerly the Wizards) rebranding is the club’s new $200 million stadium, called Livestrong Sporting Park, which opens this season with seating for 18,500, including 36 suites and 1,000 club seats. The park is on the western edge of Kansas City, Kan., adjacent to Kansas Speedway and CommunityAmerica Ballpark, home of the Class AA Kansas City T-Bones baseball club. The field includes a bar/restaurant that will be open during regular business hours and not simply game days.

Portland Timbers

PGE Park
Portland’s 86-year-old PGE Park (formerly Civic Stadium) underwent a $31 million renovation this year in advance of the Timbers’ MLS debut in March. The construction raised the capacity from 16,000 to approximately 20,000, which includes 23 luxury suites and 1,144 club seats, and placed a metal canopy over the seats, leaving the playing surface uncovered. The renovation also included building a team store, public plaza and a restaurant.

San Jose Earthquakes

San Jose
The Earthquakes’ plan to move into a new stadium by 2013 is progressing as the club continues to play at 10,300-seat Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara University. In early March, the team began demolishing the Food Machinery Corp.’s tank factory near downtown San Jose, where the club hopes to build a 15,000-seat horseshoe-shaped stadium. Team President David Kaval said the team plans to finance the entire project without the aid of public money, and is still investigating financing plans.

On the drawing board:

• The Montreal Impact makes its MLS debut in 2012 as the league’s 19th team and will play at Saputo Stadium. The stadium, built in 2008, will undergo roughly $23 million in improvements in order to transition to a 20,000-seat soccer-specific configuration. The upgrades include new amenities, more permanent seats, wider concourses and improved player facilities.

• D.C. United: In December, the city of Baltimore released a 125-page soccer stadium feasibility study aimed at wooing D.C. United with a new field that would be part of a $1.1 billion redevelopment along Westport. The team currently plays at RFK Stadium.

• New England Revolution: COO Brian Biello told reporters in December that the club is looking at “a few sites” for stadium construction. The team now plays at Gillette Stadium.

— Compiled by Fred Dreier

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