FCE raves about new longer and wider pitch at Clarke Stadium By Steven Sandor Posted on July 22, 2014 13 0 703 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter For FC Edmonton’s players, there was cause for celebration, Tuesday. After two and a half seasons of playing on the rock-hard, football-line filled turf at Clarke Stadium, the Eddies were able to train on the new FieldTurf surface for the first time. “It’s quite nice,” said assistant coach Jeff Paulus. “It plays as close as we can get to real grass. I think it’s now the best artificial surface in the country. I can’t think of anything better.” The installation of the $1.2 million, FIFA-approved turf at Clarke Stadium finishes two years worth of lobbying to get a surface that was free of the football lines. The lines can be painted on for junior and high-school football games played at the facility. The new turf also allowed FC Edmonton the chance to expand the field dimensions — both length and width. The old dimensions saw the goal lines placed on the goal lines of a Canadian football field, 110 yards apart. The new field is now 115 yards long by 75 yards wide. “The difference is night and day, the keepers are loving it,” FCE goalkeeping coach Darren Woloshen said. The FIFA approved surface means that Clarke can be used as a training facility for the upcoming U-20 Women’s World Cup and the Women’s World Cup in 2015. The World Cup matches happen next door at the 56,000-seat Commonwealth Stadium. FCE General Manager Rod Proudfoot said that the club must vacate Clarke Stadium between May 26 and July 8 of next year, as FIFA takes over the venue and does not allow it to be shared. Likewise, FIFA has informed the CFL Eskimos that they won’t be allowed to be in Commonwealth (or train at Clarke) during that window. FCE has already announced intentions to play at least two home games in oil-rich Fort McMurray during that window. Depending on how the NASL schedule breaks next year, there could be more visits to the Fort for “home” matches. Proudfoot says that teams are looking at two NASL sample schedules for 2015; one would see a spring-season “sprint,” with teams playing 10 games each, and then a 20-game fall season. This would allow at least part of the NASL break to come when the Women’s World Cup is staged in Canada. Another draft schedule sees a break in July between two equal 15-game seasons — but that would mean both Ottawa and FCE would need to find contingency plans for “home” games in late May and throughout June, when they aren’t allowed in their stadiums as per FIFA rules. TV RATINGS Proudfoot says that television ratings in the local market for FCE games have doubled over last year. In 2014, FC Edmonton games are attracting 15,000 viewers per match in the local market. The games were on Sportsnet 360 last year, which isn’t as easily available as Citytv, which is where the games can be found in 2014. Citytv, which is part of the Rogers family with Sportsnet, has a two-year deal to carry FCE matches.