Construction at Providence Park is moving along, as an expansion project is on track to conclude in time for a June 1 reopening for the Portland Timbers.
Providence Park has yet to host a home match for MLS’s Portland Timbers or NWSL’s Portland Thorns this season, as the facility has been closed to accommodate construction on a 4,000-seat expansion on its east side. Although creating additional capacity is the main goal of the $85 million privately financed slate of improvements, additional upgrades are also coming to the stadium, including new video displays, LED field lighting, new turf, an upgraded sound system, and more.
With the Timber’s 2019 home opener against Los Angeles FC on June 1 approaching, all signs point to Providence Park being ready by that date. Finishing touches are being put into place now, but many signs of the final product are settled before next month’s home opener. For Timbers president of business Mike Golub, the project represents a new era for the historic Providence Park. More from The Oregonian/Oregon Live:
“We’re ready,” Golub said. “We’re in good shape. If you walk around, you’ll see things that still need to get done. That’s not uncommon with where we are, 25 days out, but we’ve hit all the critical milestones along the way. We’ll be ready to go June 1 for the Timbers and June 2 for the Thorns.”
While the club’s general contractor, Turner Construction, is still working to finish the final portion of the expansion project, the revamped east side of Providence Park already looks close to complete. The three new levels are in place and the new seats have been installed. The seats on the second level spell out “SCUSA,” an acronym for Soccer City USA. The new east side has decks on each level that overlook the field. There is also a walkway behind the stands on the top level that will give fans a view of the street and downtown. The open spaces could help add to the fan experience, giving ticket holders a place to stand and hang out when they are not sitting in their seats.
Many of the other upgrades to the stadium are easily visible from the new east side seats. The two new giant video boards have already been installed on the south and west sides of the stadium. Additional video stripes are still being added in other areas. The new turf, which is supposed to be more resistant to heat, is close to being fully installed as well. The updated sound system is also ready to go.
“The idea was a relaunch of Providence Park,” Golub said. “This is our ninth season and it really is a relaunch, reinvention of a historic and wonderful stadium.”
Originally opening in 1926, Providence Park was an outdoor multipurpose facility for much of its history, hosting baseball into the 21st century. However, the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) departed for Tucson following the 2010 season (before eventually settling in El Paso), a move that allowed for renovations to make it a permanent MLS venue. It is currently the second-oldest stadium in MLS.
Construction on the expansion began ahead of the 2018 season, but the work needed to finalize the project–combined with a deep playoff run last fall by the Timbers–required that both the Timbers and Thorns begin their respective 2019 campaigns on the road before returning to Providence Park in June. Once it reopens, Providence Park will offer a capacity of 25,218.
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