NASL commish Peterson to meet with Edmonton officials Monday about Clarke’s football lines

Bill Peterson

Bill Peterson

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson was at Clarke Stadium Sunday to see the Eddies take on the Atlanta Silverbacks, a game played on decade-old turf with football lines on it.

And Peterson will try to lend his voice to FC Edmonton’s efforts to get the turf changed out in the city-owned facility. On Monday, Peterson and FCE owner Tom Fath will meet with city officials about the surface.

Peterson spoke with Gareth Hampshire and me during the Spotsnet 360 broadcast of Sunday’s game.

“I think we have to find a way to get the lines off the pitch,” he said. “The team and the sport deserves to play on a proper pitch.”

While he understands that nothing can be done for the remainder of the 2013 season, he hopes to see a new surface for the 2014 NASL campaign. In his mind, the renovation of Clarke stadium isn’t complete until a new surface is installed. FCE paid for the installation of new bleachers, which has raised the capacity of Clarke from 1,200 to 2,800.

Peterson said an option would be a new pitch with the erasable lines, so the facility could still be shared with gridiron teams.

Not only are the football lines bad for the players, so are the seams in the turf. FC Edmonton has lost two players to injury due to non-contact injuries on the surface; Carlyle Mitchell and Daryl Fordyce.

Peterson also said that the league won’t look at expansion bids that include pitches that have football lines on them. He said they are OK as a temporary solution, a new team can play on them for a year or two while it waits for new turf or a facility of its own. But it can’t float a football-lined surface as a permanent solution.

That may be an issue for the Calgary bid, where McMahon Stadium, home of the CFL Stampeders, is being floated as a stadium possibility. Peterson said Calgary, Winnipeg and Hamilton remain in the mix as potential expansion cities, even though the league has now made getting franchises into the western United States as a priority.

“We could possibly include Calgary as a new team with those western cities,” said Peterson.

Former FCE director of soccer has been working in Calgary to try and line up investors for an NASL franchise. Peterson did not confirm if his trip to Alberta includes a side trip to Calgary or not.

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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.