Providence Park Expansion Remains On Schedule For Next Year
The Providence Park expansion project is "on track to finish" by spring '19, with the renovation adding 4,000 seats and bringing capacity up to about 25,000, according to Jamie Goldberg of the Portland OREGONIAN. The project has been underway since November '17 and was "originally proposed" as a $50M project, but will "ultimately cost" closer to $70M. Timbers and NWSL Thorns Owner Merritt Paulson said that the project is "'generally' on schedule to be completed" by Spring '19, though the Timbers' '18 playoff schedule "could change that." Paulson said that roughly 3,700 of the 4,000 new seats "have been sold." Paulson added that he "expects that the club will be able to start playing at Providence Park in mid-May." But he also said that it was "possible that the Timbers could host a few games earlier in the MLS season before construction is complete" (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/15).
SURFACE AREA: In Portland, Gordon Friedman notes Paulson has asked Mayor Ted Wheeler about "changing the playing surface" at Providence Park from artificial turf to natural grass. Wheeler "indicated he's keeping his mind open about installing grass at the city-owned venue." Wheeler said that Paulson "made a compelling argument to him that replacing Providence Park's turf with a grass field could 'be a boon to the local economy.'" Wheeler said that Portland could "attract international matches with a real grass field and perhaps more European talent for the local teams." Timbers President of Business Mike Golub said that Providence Park is "already one of the best soccer venues in North America." However, he noted having a real grass field is the "last piece of the puzzle" to solidify that reputation. However, nothing is "set in stone." Wheeler said he is "not eager" to have taxpayers pay for a new field at the city-owned stadium (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/14).