Major League Soccer (MLS) team the Portland Timbers are planning a major expansion of their Providence Park Stadium.
Club leaders have proposed a modern, yet historically influenced $50 million-plus, privately financed expansion project for the east side that would add approximately 4,000 new seats, a striking new street-level colonnade and an iconic, modernised expansion—all at no cost to the city or public.
They said an expanded Providence Park will make the stadium viable for the future and help ensure that Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC remain in their unique downtown location long-term, well beyond the expiration of the current operating agreement in 2035.
The proposed design by internationally renowned and Portland-based architecture firm Allied Works would add a 93-foot high covered structure on the east side of the stadium, taking a vertical approach to a relatively small footprint while integrating well with the existing stadium.
The proposed project includes four new levels on the expanded east side, with three of the four levels created for reserved and group seating sections to help meet demand, while including a unique, pedestrian-friendly public arcade along SW 18th Avenue.
Mike Golub, president of business for the Timbers and Thorns FC, said:
Providence Park is one of the most special stadiums in sports. With our proposed expansion, we will enhance the incomparable fan experience and intimacy and provide the opportunity for some of the more than 13,000 members of the waiting list to become season ticket holders.
Since the Portland Timbers’ arrival in MLS in 2011 and the addition of Portland Thorns FC and the National Women’s Soccer League in 2013, Providence Park has become one of the foremost venues in North American soccer.
It has won numerous awards for its unrivaled fan experience and atmosphere and has been named FourFourTwo’s Best Stadium for Soccer in the United States as well as the top MLS stadium experience across all sports by StadiumJourney.com.
Originally built in 1926 in the downtown core of Portland, its 91-year history has seen the likes of soccer, football, baseball, dog racing, concerts, ski jumping, presidential visits and much more.
Now nearly a century since it first opened, Providence Park is poised for another transformation. An already great stadium for sport will become an even greater cathedral for soccer, while helping meet the ever-increasing demand for tickets.
While Providence Park is already a top destination for soccer, challenges for the future remain. The stadium has sold out for every single Timbers regular-season and playoff match at home since the club’s inaugural MLS season in 2011.
The Timbers currently have an ever-growing waiting list of more than 13,000 fans for season tickets. MLS matchday ticket demand for the available supply is at a premium. In short, more people want to get in than can be accommodated.
Additionally, MLS is evolving rapidly as the league continues to grow in all areas and additional expansion teams come on line in the upcoming years. Stadia in Major League Soccer are growing in size and the rising economics of the league are making it increasingly challenging to compete, as Providence Park – with an existing capacity of 21,144 for soccer – currently ranks in the bottom half of the league in terms of size.
Inspired in part by the famous Shakespearean Globe Theatre in London and the iconic La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires—both with their upright vertical seating areas and literal on-top-of-the-action perspective—the new Providence Park expansion would complete the full U-shape stadium design as was envisioned by the original then-Multnomah Stadium architects of A.E. Doyle and Morris Whitehouse in 1925.
The end result would “finish” the stadium after almost 100 years, completing a transformation to a fully realised, urban soccer stadium.
Image courtesy of Allied Works