The three-level east stand at Providence Park will open for the Timbers’ June 1 game. (Craig Mitchelldyer / Portland Timbers and Thorns FC)

Three-story addition part of Providence Park renovations about to debut

Twelve games into the 2019 Major League Soccer season and the Portland Timbers will still not have played a home match. That all changes with the June 1 reopening of Providence Park, the downtown Portland home of the Timbers and the National Women’s Soccer League Portland Thorns.

The reopening comes with 4,000 new seats from a recently finished three-level east stand, but also includes a refresh of the existing concourse and a new marketplace at one of the venue’s major entrances.

Construction on the privately financed $85 million project kicked off at Providence Park after the 2017 season. Work continued during 2018, forcing the rerouting of fans and the closure of a portion of the already tight confines. The venue was built in 1926 and underwent a $40 million remodel for its inaugural MLS season in 2011.

The start of the 2019 home schedule was pushed back to allow plenty of time for the Timbers to wrap up the project, which Mike Golub, president of business for the Timbers and Thorns FC, said worked well.

“We are in good shape,” he said. “Like any project of this magnitude there are an immense number of moving parts all at a crescendo at the same time, but we are in a really good place, on track, really excited and hungry for soccer to be back in Providence Park.”

Construction on the new seats will wrap by the June 1 Timbers game and June 2 Thorns game, although a few tweaks may be needed after the opening weekend. “We may learn things and make some changes,” he said. “We will remain nimble.”

A sign offers directions to the levels of the east stands. (Craig Mitchelldyer / Portland Timbers and Thorns FC)

Adding 4,000 new seats in a three-level vertical construct comes as the centerpiece to the refresh and brings the total capacity to the park to 25,218. The first level is home to the Tanner Ridge section, the highest level of premium seating for the Timbers and Thorns. The Toyota Terrace on the second level and Duracell Deck on the third have their own characteristics too. “It is a very cool design and very vertical feel,” Golub said. “We were able to maximize the use of space and create an excellent experience.”

All three levels are self-contained with amenities and point-of-sale locations.

Downtown streets, light rail tracks and a neighborhood lock down the stadium on three sides, with the Multnomah Athletic Club capping the stadium’s open south end. To create more seats, designers at Allied Works Architecture went vertical, inspired by the designs of the Shakespearean Globe Theatre in London and La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, both strongly featuring upright vertical seating. The design completes the original full horseshoe plans of architects from A.E. Doyle and Morris Whitehouse in 1925, essentially finishing a stadium nearly 100 years later.

The Timbers opened up about 3,200 season-ticket opportunities in the new east stand, first allowing current season-ticket holders the opportunity to move into new seats, based on seniority. As fans started moving into the east stand, it allowed other season-ticket holders to relocate to seats around the stadium. “This was an opportunity to move to preferred seats and for some to move to the new side,” Golub said. “That took several months as we essentially went to every ticket holder.”

Once everyone already in the building had a chance to make a selection, the Timbers offered recently vacated seats and new seats in the east stand to those on the 13,000-strong waiting list. “It was a way to offer our loyal fans a first crack at new seats and for others to calibrate,” he said. Plus, it allowed several thousand new fans into the stadium on a season ticket.

The Timbers, despite being able to sell out using just season tickets if they wanted, have capped the overall stadium at about 80 percent season tickets and the rest individual and group sales.

Golub said the Tanner Ridge level represents the first time fans have bought season tickets to the Timbers and Thorns simultaneously — a seat in Tanner Ridge comes with a ticket to every event within the venue — and gives the building its most premium space anywhere.

“Tanner Ridge has a great view of the field and is our most well-appointed area of the stadium,” Golub said. “It has the highest level of amenities, of food and beverage service and one of the best points-of-sale ratios in the stadium. We will deliver exceptional service.”

The third deck provides a unique vantage point in the venue, he said, with an overlook into the stadium and back over the city and mountains. “You can watch the world go by and watch a game,” Golub said.

The new east side stand rises 93 feet, above the Key Bank Club, and includes new entrances and turnstiles. With the ability to expand physically — the new stand extends away from the field toward the street, creating a street-level colonnade experience that hovers above both the concourse below and the sidewalk outside the venue — Golub said to expect ample points-of-sale throughout the new area.

There was concern early on that going vertical wasn’t going to be worth it. “The footprint was really narrow, which constrained the number of seats,” Golub said. “If we could extend each of the three floors of common space over the sidewalk, we gain an immense amount of space and it frees up the ability to add more seats.”

The refresh continues in the remainder of the historic venue, which includes updated lighting, paint in the concourse, remade concession fronts, fresh menus, new menu screens, updated wayfinding, a new scoreboard and a relocated team store. A new marketplace area on the 20thAvenue entrance near the new east side stand will create a single food and beverage experience geared toward local beers.

“The idea all along was having a true relaunch,” Golub said. “Every fan, when coming in the stadium, will experience a variety of new fan-facing elements.”

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated from the original version. The updated cost of the Providence Park renovation project is $85 million.