As they contend with an inadequate stadium and low attendance numbers, FC Edmonton officials say that a solution is needed to keep the franchise viable.
Since 2012, FC Edmonton has played its games at Clarke Stadium, a multipurpose venue that replaced Foote Field. FC Edmonton left Foote Field because it fell below NASL standards and while a similar problem still plagues Clarke Stadium, owners Tom and Dave Fath worked to bring it closer to league mandates by spending millions on upgrades that included a new scoreboard and bleacher unit.
FC Edmonton says that more needs to be done, however, to keep the franchise competitive. Clarke Stadium seats only 5,000 fans, and the team’s owners claim that the facility’s limits in terms of capacity and amenities are hurting attendance. Talks have come and gone in recent years about building a new stadium that seats at least 8,000, but with nothing on the horizon, there is a question of how much longer Edmonton will be able to support soccer. More from the Edmonton Sun:
“I’ve always said that the team has to be sustainable,” said [Tom] Fath after about a seven-second delay when I came right out and asked him where he’s at as an owner.
“For a team to be here for 10, 20 or 30 years, it has to be sustainable. You can’t have two brothers carrying it.”
How about in two or three years?
“That’s another question, isn’t it?” said Fath.
“The fans here today obviously want it. A lot of people talk about wanting it. A lot of people tell me how good it is for the city. But we have to make FC Edmonton a habit. We have to capture the hearts of corporate Edmonton. Until now, we haven’t done that.
There team’s attendance figures are strikingly low in comparison to the rest of the NASL. FC Edmonton ranks 11th in the 12-team NASL, with the only team below them–the Fort Lauderdale Strikers—making plans to move into a different facility. Through July 17, Edmonton was averaging over 2,300 fans per game, with Fort Lauderdale drawing in excess of 1,300. The 10th place team–the New York Cosmos-had a figure that stood above 3,700.