Renovated Providence Park should give boost to Timbers and Thorns
The Portland Timbers and Thorns will debut a renovated Providence Park this weekend, an $85 million project that is expected to provide a significant financial and fan engagement boost to the two clubs that are already leaders in those categories in their respective leagues.
Four thousand seats are being added in a new three-tiered vertical structure on the east side of the downtown Portland stadium. The project began following the 2017 MLS season and also includes renovations to the stadium concourse and the addition of a new marketplace.
Providence Park will now have 25,218 seats, making it the third-largest soccer-specific stadium in MLS behind LA Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park and Orlando City Stadium, which have 27,000 and 25,500 seats, respectively.
Adding seats to Providence Park was a critical initiative for the Timbers, a club that has long been sold out on season tickets and has a waiting list that exceeds 10,000. Mike Golub, president of business operations for both the Timbers and the NWSL’s Thorns, said the Timbers typically allocate 80% of the stadium for season-ticket holders, with the rest available for single-game and group sales. That same split will remain after the expansion.
Despite being in one of the smallest markets among MLS teams and only in their ninth season in the league, the Timbers rank in the top five of nearly every MLS business metric.
“We recognized that we had the demand for more seats earlier on, and that the league was heading to a place that for us to stay competitive on and off the field, that we’d need to evolve as well,” Golub said. “For us to keep in that stratosphere, the facility had to evolve so that the success on the business side could fuel the soccer side.”
Of the 4,000 new seats, 1,400 are part of what will be the highest-end premium seating in the facility, known as the Tanner Ridge section, and will sell for $3,600 annually. Those seats also represent the first time the organization has sold a ticket that combines both Timbers and Thorns matches, as well as any other event in the building.
While the organization will need to wait for a few matches to truly calculate the business impact from the renovation, Golub said the expectation is that it will “have a really material impact on the top line and will set us up really well for the future.”
All of these changes will affect the Thorns as well. The team averaged 16,959 fans per game in 2018, roughly 80% capacity, but Golub said the combination of the renovations and the expected post-Women’s World Cup boon should drive up both attendance and revenue for the Thorns.