Providence Park stadium expansion project remains on schedule

15 October 2018

The Portland Timbers and Thorns organization remain on track to finish their stadium expansion project at Providence Park by Spring 2019.

Timbers and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson took to Twitter last week to give fans an update on the expansion project, which has been underway since November 2017. The project will add 4,000 seats to Providence Park, bringing capacity up to about 25,000.

The price tag on the privately-financed project has changed dramatically since the Timbers first announced the plan in April 2017. What was originally proposed as a $50 million project will ultimately cost Paulson closer to $70 million.

According to Paulson, the project is "generally" on schedule to be completed by Spring 2019, though the Timbers' 2018 playoff schedule could change that. The Timbers are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference standings with two games left in the regular season and could clinch a playoff berth as early as Sunday, October 21.

The Timbers have already put the new seats up for sale and given current season tickets holders the opportunity to switch over to the new sections. Paulson said that roughly 3,700 of the 4,000 new seats have been sold. Timbers President of Business Mike Golub said in January that approximately 3,000 to 3,200 of the 4,000 new seats would be for new season ticket holders.

The club was never expected to have trouble selling tickets for the new seats. Prior to the expansion project, the Timbers already had more than 13,000 fans on their season ticket waiting list.

Due to the construction, the Timbers will once again start their MLS season on the road in 2019. Paulson said he expects that the club will be able to start playing at Providence Park in mid-May, but also said it was possible that the Timbers could host a few games earlier in the MLS season before construction is complete. The Timbers have hosted a full slate of home games at Providence Park this season, despite ongoing construction.

But Paulson also said that the club's goal is to have the full stadium ready and open when they play their first home game next year. If delays do happen, fans that have purchased tickets in the new sections will get a refund for any missed games, Paulson said.

The Timbers and Thorns organization will also install new turf at Providence Park for the 2019 season. Paulson is pushing the city to have grass installed at Providence Park by 2020.

Mayor Ted Wheeler said on Friday that Paulson had asked him about changing the playing surface at the city-owned stadium from artificial turf to grass. Wheeler indicated that he's keeping an open mind about installing grass at the venue, but wouldn't want taxpayers to foot the bill. Golub told the Oregonian/OregonLive Friday that the Timbers and Thorns would pay the "many millions of dollars" for a grass field, should one be installed.

Paulson said the club is mulling over additional upgrades to the west side of Providence Park as well. Those changes could include the addition of a new gate to alleviate congestion and upgrades to current concessions stands. The club is also looking to install a new sound system and bigger video board at Providence Park.