With last week’s unveiling of its schedule, MLS provided another sign of a busy 2019 season on the stadium front. FC Cincinnati is now in the fold as an expansion squad, while Minnesota is preparing to open Allianz Field, and Portland will finish a major expansion of Providence Park.
To help keep up with these developments, we are presenting the key dates to watch in the 2019 MLS season. That includes a few dates related to FC Cincinnati’s launch, as well as the opening of Allianz Field, and Portland’s late spring return to its home venue.
Early FC Cincinnati Matches
History will be made on March 2, when FC Cincinnati visits Seattle’s CenturyLink Field to face the Sounders for its inaugural MLS match. That will be followed eight days later with a visit to Atlanta, and then Cincinnati’s home opener on March 17 against the Portland Timbers.
For the next two seasons, FC Cincinnati will play home matches at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium—a college football stadium that allowed the club to break numerous USL attendance records over three seasons of play at the Division II level. That will be a short-term arrangement, however, as FC Cincinnati is slated to open a new soccer-specific stadium on the city’s West End in 2021.
Minnesota United FC Opens Allianz Field
After spending two seasons at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, United will debut its own home on April 13. The match between Minnesota and New York City FC will mark the first played at the soccer-specific Allianz Field in St. Paul.
Allianz Field will feature a seating capacity around 19,400, with design features including seats as close as 17 feet from the pitch. It is intended as the anchor of a larger redevelopment initiative in the city’s Midway neighborhood, and surrounding development is expected to be built out over the next several years.
Timbers Reopen Expanded Providence Park
One of the biggest stadium-related developments of the coming season will not occur until June, when the Timbers return to an expanded Providence Park. The club will open the season with 12 consecutive road games before returning to Providence Park on June 1 to face Los Angeles FC.
Construction on the multi-phase, roughly 4,000-seat Providence Park expansion began after the 2017 season, and work on the current round of construction started later than expected after the Timbers made a deep run in the MLS playoffs that resulted in an appearance in the MLS Cup. With a strong attendance track record that includes a per-game average of 21,144 in 2018, the Timbers regularly fill Providence Park to capacity. The additional seats will surely result in that attendance number climbing upward starting in 2019. Furthermore, the venue’s extra seating will have implications for the NWSL’s Thorns, a club that regularly tops its league in attendance and averaged 16,959 fans per game last season.