FC Edmonton updates city, fans on soccer-stadium progress

On Wednesday, FC Edmonton updated its fans on the progress made towards realizing a mid-size soccer stadium in the city.

Also included in the release was an artist’s rendering of an envisioned stadium, giving fans a taste of what a new home for the Eddies could look like. (WE HAVE ALL THE STADIUM VIEWS BELOW THE JUMP) These artist’s renderings are simply conceptual, used for budgetary purposes and not the actual proposed stadium.

Here is the text of the release from FCE:

“On February 4, FC Edmonton made a presentation to Executive Committee at the City of Edmonton on the concept of building a new mid-sized stadium (8,000-10,000) to better support soccer and other events in the City. (FCE owner) Tom Fath noted that other soccer organizations around North America have built mid-sized soccer stadiums of this size for between $12-40 million.

“The City subsequently directed FC Edmonton to work with the City’s Community and Recreation Services Branch to develop business model options and a Needs Assessment addressing the evolution of soccer and field sports in Edmonton. A report is expected back to City Council later in 2013.

“FC Edmonton owner Tom Fath is expanding Clark Field seating from 1,300 to over 4,000 by mid-April, 2013. The City wants to see what the public response will be at Eddies home games this season before deliberating on the new stadium.

“(The) 2013 (NASL season) will be a game changer for the Eddies as the Club undertakes a number of key initiatives to improve the team, the operations, the game experience and the fan base.

“’Anybody who is a soccer fan should come to the games this year, fill the stadium and show that the existing facility isn’t enough,’ says Fath. Already, minor soccer zones and clubs in and around Edmonton have been working with FC Edmonton to help fill the stands as well as raise funds for their respective programs.

“The real winner from a new stadium will be the soccer and sports community-at-large. A new stadium will add much-needed capacity, draw national and international competitive matches to the City, and provide a great environment for younger soccer players who hope to grow into elite players. And, of course, a new stadium will greatly enhance fans’ game and viewing experience.

“Filling the stands at Clark Field this summer would be a good start to galvanizing the City into realizing the vision of Edmonton hosting the best mid-sized soccer stadium between Vancouver and Toronto.”

The release is part of the launch of FCE’s ticket drive for 2013 – as the club has officially launched its sales drive. FCE will host the Vancouver Whitecaps April 24 in Amway Canadian Championship play, and then will host the San Antonio Scorpions in its NASL home opener April 28.

In previous meetings with the city, several sites were discussed — including rebuilding the Clarke site, which is on the LRT system and is next door to Commonwealth Stadium. Other options include somewhere on the Northlands ground, or a refitting of Telus Field, which is close to downtown but not on the LRT line. Telus Field had been the home of minor-league baseball in the city.

But the drawing suggests FCE would much rather be in a built-from-the-ground-up soccer facility rather than be in a refitted baseball stadium, like the Portland Timbers call home in MLS.

Last year, the Eddies averaged more than 100 per cent capacity at Clarke Stadium, which holds just 1,200. The Eddies moved there confident that new seats could be installed in time for the 2012 NASL season, but building-permit issues prevented the installation of the seats. So, the team had to struggle with a home field that’s capacity was so low, it would be sold out by the hardcore fans — and gave no real read on how the casual Edmonton sports fan reacted to the presence of the team in the city.

With the capacity being boosted in time for the April NASL opener, the city and ownership will have a much better gauge on what the future holds for soccer in Edmonton.

And, of course, a soccer stadium in Edmonton would give the Canadian Soccer Association a badly needed option outside of the current stadium inventory for Canada games. An Edmonton stadium would offer perfect “Canadian” conditions for autumn, winter or early spring qualifiers, which would allow the national teams to turn the tables a bit on the other CONCACAF nations, who do their best to make their home games as inhospitable as possible.

MORE STADIUM VIEWS:





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Make-or-break for Edmonton: If Clarke doesn’t sell out, a new stadium is an impossible task (CLICK)

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.