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Let’s Get Cautiously Optimistic About Stadium Expansion

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MLS: Sporting KC at Portland Timbers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

There is always plenty to speculate about over the offseason, and for fans of the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns that certainly includes the team’s plans for expanding Providence Park. Timbers and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson stoked the stadium expansion fires in his appearance on the season finale of “Timbers in 30” last week.

The potential plan, according to Paulson, is to add 4,000 seats to the east side stands over the Key Bank Club, with construction taking place over the course of two offseasons so as not to disrupt the team’s season with long stretches of road games. With that timetable, it seems likely that any expansion would be rolled out for the 2019 season, with the 2018 season remaining a possibility if these plans go into effect immediately.

Of course, the Timbers have yet to come to an agreement with the city, according to Paulson. And any expansion plans would be contingent on city approval as Providence is owned by the City of Portland.

However, despite the hurdles that remain between the Timbers and Thorns, and their expanded stadium, Paulson called himself “cautiously optimistic” about the process.

With the Timbers consistently selling out the stadium for league matches and the Thorns continuing their strong attendance numbers as they approach their fifth season as a club, there can be little doubt that any seats that can be added would be filled.

How the Timbers work around the busy east side concourse, however, will be an interesting challenge for the architects of this plan. With a typical section holding between 300-400 seats, the club could be adding the equivalent of ten to twelve additional sections on the east side, which will take up a significant amount of room.

Fitting this expansion in will likely require moving or getting rid of the roof which currently covers some of the east side, among other challenges.

How do you see the potential expansion fitting in to the east side? How would you like the club change Providence Park?