City to Consider Clarke Stadium Upgrades for FC Edmonton

NASL - Edmonton FC

Edmonton will explore potential upgrades to Clarke Stadium, a proposal pitched to help FC Edmonton land in the Canadian Premier League

FC Edmonton owners Tom and Dave Fath are still exploring potential play in the Canadian Premier League. As part of that process, the owners have floated the idea of renovating Clarke Stadium to make extensive upgrades to fan amenities and player facilities, while designating the club as the facility’s primary tenant. The earliest FC Edmonton would begin Canadian Premier League play is 2019, which is when the league is currently expected to launch.

The plan was considered by a city committee on Wednesday, and the committee opted to advance the discussions. One issue that the parties will try to resolve going forward is concerns over how the proposal would affect football-related uses of Clarke Stadium, including its role as a practice field for the Canadian Football League’s Eskimos. More from the Edmonton Journal:

Soccer team FC Edmonton and many in Edmonton’s soccer community are asking city hall to give Clarke Stadium to soccer as the primary user, help them build more seating and allow them to create their own food and beverage contracts in the facility.

Council’s community services committee heard from 18 people for and against the plan before voting unanimously to explore the soccer option. City officials will work with the Edmonton Eskimos to define how the stadium could operate, bring a capital budget estimate to council and look at what upgrades high school football might need at other artificial fields.

Clarke Stadium is essential to the Edmonton Eskimos as a practice venue, said Len Rhodes, president of the community-owned club. They’ve been forced to go all the way to Fort McMurray at times when it’s not available.

FC Edmonton owners Tom Fath said he needs to see the Clarke Stadium upgrades because they’re required to meet the Canadian premier league standards. But those are really geared to simply ensuring teams can be sustainable.

FC Edmonton fielded a team for the last several years in the NASL, but the club’s owners announced last November that the team would leave the NASL and discontinue professional franchise operations. Despite that announcement–which came months after the United States Soccer Federation announced that it would revoke the NASL’s Division II status for 2018–the have pair have continued to run a youth academy, and are leaving the door open for eventually joining the Canadian Premier League.

Image courtesy NASL.

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