The Portland Timbers continue to post robust attendance figures, which has prompted some discussion about whether or not to expand Providence Park.
Both the Timbers and the NWSL’s Portland Thorns are attracting fans in droves, making Providence Park a true destination in Portland. The Timbers have essentially averaged capacity crowds at their games, which makes a case for expanding a stadium that seats 21,144 spectators.
As we noted in August, the Timbers and owner Merritt Paulson have been looking into that possibility. Early discussions revolved around adding 2,000 seats to Providence Park. However, that plan was shelved in favor of a larger expansion that would create room for up to 3,500 more fans.
The Timbers still appear to be pondering that idea, but like any team in this situation they will have to address a few questions. One is what structurally possible to add to Providence Park, and another is what capacity the Timbers can have and still attract adequate ticket demands. More from Oregon Live:
While the downtown location of Providence Park is certainly a positive, the city-owned stadium has a turf surface and holds just 21,144 fans, which is a real limitation for a city and organization that claims such a large stronghold of soccer supporters. And finding a way to significantly add more seats to the stadium has been a headache for the Timbers.
When the United States hosted the Copa America in June, CenturyLink Field in Seattle, which can seat more than 67,000, was named as a venue for the tournament, while Portland was passed over altogether. The last time Portland hosted a major tournament game was in 2013 when it was named as one of 13 host sites for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Timbers have tried to raise their season ticket numbers and the capacity at Providence Park each year, but the increases have been minimal. Timbers President of Business Mike Golub said that the club adds about 150 season tickets a year, which hardly puts a dent in a season ticket waitlist of 13,000.
Still, the Timbers are working hard to expand stadium capacity. Golub said the club has recently honed in on a new expansion design that would potentially add up to 3,500 more seats, without taking away from the fan experience. The club is still exploring the feasibility of the plan and no potential renovations would take place until after the 2018 MLS season.
With that timeline in place, the Timbers will have time to mull their options. Given Portland’s affection for soccer, fan demand should continue to hold strong while the team makes its decision.