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Timbers take a stand
The Portland Timbers announced recently plans for a $50 million upgrade to the east side of the stadium, to be designed by local Allied Works Architecture.
The Key Bank stand was only added in 2011 when the Timbers graduated to Major League Soccer. The old Beavers baseball scoreboard was torn down, and the new stand was praised for its striking look and its use of wood, echoing the glu-lam beams of the north and west stands.
The stadium's capacity will top 25,000, making a dent in the 13,000 waiting list for season tickets.
"This proposed project is a win-win for everyone involved, and we've been very encouraged by the collaborative work that's been put into this project to date," Portland Timbers and Thorns president of business Mike Golub said in a statement.
Golub is making much of the fact that it is a privately funded $50 million renovation, even though the team rents the stadium from the city of Portland through an operating agreement that runs through 2035. The "team" or club pays rent to the City plus a percentage of every ticket sale.
The club has sold out every regular season and playoff match at home in MLS.
"Through the operating agreement we have the ability to realize revenue from the stadium," Golub said.
At the time of the deal, the team said the stadium would be used for other purposes, such as concerts, but with games by the Timbers, Thorns, T2 and PSU Vikings, so far that has not materialized.
The construction will take place over two winters in time for either the 2019 or 2020 soccer seasons.
The site is constrained by the MAX lines along Southwest 18th Avenue. Unable to build back and deep the architects envision building upwards, tearing off the old roof and replacing it with curves reminiscent of Boca Juniors' La Bombanera stand ("the chocolate box") in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The chocolate box is wooden and it bounces when the fans jump up and down. This is unlikely to happen in the new stand at Providence Park, where the sides are traditionally more sedentary and quieter than the Timbers Army in the North End.
Golub says they have watched bigger and bigger soccer grounds coming online in North America. As there is no way they could ever make it a 40,000 stadium, Timbers management calculated adding 4,000 new seats based on site constraints and likely demand.
In the stadium now, 75 to 80 percent of the seats are for season ticket holders. The rest are released for group and individual sales.
"A lot of season ticket holders are not sitting ideally where they want to be, so they will be given the opportunity to change place." Other seats in the expanded stand will be saved for groups, such as "church outings, little league teams, groups of buddies booking together," which Golub says in most sports are discounted because they are a bulk buy.
Other architects had offered ideas for expanding the stadium but the Timbers passed. Golub says the Timbers front office was already familiar with Allied Works, which has its office a two blocks away at 15th and Morrison. "We know them, they're season ticket holders, our paths have crossed. They volunteered to take a shot and really hit it."
Allied Works declined to comment for this article.