Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton FCE raves about new longer and wider pitch at Clarke Stadium

FCE raves about new longer and wider pitch at Clarke Stadium

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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.

ClarkeTurfThe 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.

 

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13 Comments

  1. strobez

    September 4, 2014 at 4:46 am

    All the factors are important, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… no Hockey fan in Hockey-mad Canada would watch a “professional” match being played on a curling rink. Don’t care if they were winning the league and every match… Expecting anyone who actually likes soccer to endure gridiron lines on a soccer pitch is ludicrous. It makes the league and the team look amateurish and not worth your time. Who cares if some beer league team wins all the time? A pro team needs to provide a product that people recognize as the one they came to watch first… then they need to win.

    Reply

  2. Mike

    July 25, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    I go back to the first season when the team had a lot of local players. It was fun watching them play and winning (remember they made the playoffs). Those boys played their collective asses off to show they could be good in this league. Fath opened his wallet to bring in the outside “talent” also but I think it was the local (Alberta/Canadian) talent that got the home fans excited. That all kind of went by the wayside now. Too bad. Looking forward to seeing the new pitch on Sunday.

    Reply

    • Steven Sandor

      July 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      To be fair, Mike, in its first NASL season, the team was doing awesome till the halfway mark, then struggled in the second half and scraped into the playoffs and were blown out in Fort Lauderdale. The team struggled after it made its high-profile Dutch signing which, in hindsight, fractured the team.

      Reply

    • kahkakew yawassanay

      July 25, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      Then that was an anomaly as there are not nearly enough good players that can play semi pro in the NASL in the city..in 4 years the NASL has dramatically improved because of imports…if the proposed national CSL(tier 3) league gets going it would be the step needed between the AMSL and the NASL as there is no USL Pro side in the region..eventually with a suitable academy and the football pyramid complete for semi pro and amateurs(NASL-USL Pro-CSL-PDL/AMSL) players will have places to play even if they are starting off in the major city minor league premier divisions

      Reply

  3. Soccerfan

    July 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    It is also unattractive to watch a telecast in standard definition rather than high definition. The football lines weren’t the only reason it was cancelled. Lets be honest, the production for each game is pretty low in production value. Sportsnet has a standard, just because you are part of the NASL, does not mean you get a free pass to broadcast across Canada. When I watch MLS, it is night and day between the FC Edmonton telecasts. It makes more sense to broadcast it locally.

    Reply

    • Steven Sandor

      July 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Just a quick note. Both Sportsnet and Citytv are Rogers stations. They will be used interchangeably for Rogers’ NHL coverage, which begins this fall. They are all part of the same family of channels.

      Reply

      • Soccerfan

        July 24, 2014 at 9:14 pm

        The NHL is the NHL!!! Once again, programming a NASL game with a few hundred people watching the game in the stands is not exactly going to entice any network. It is sports content, but that is a dime a dozen in today’s broadcasting world. Beside, if the issue was the lines, why doesn’t Sportsnet just pull the games back onto Sportsnet. Your point is that they are “interchangeable…..” Once again a local station like City TV Edmonton can justify putting on a FC Edmonton game, Sportsnet can concentrate on programming that moves the dial. Champions league, EPL etc.

        Reply

        • Steven Sandor

          July 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

          The reason games aren’t pulled back to Sportsnet is because they are doing better on Citytv. Citytv, at least in the local market (and that’s the important one for FCE) reaches far more homes than Sportsnet 360 did. It is on the lower-tier. The proof is in the ratings, which are far better, locally, than last year. That’s not conjecture; it’s hard fact. Yes, the lines were an issue for Sportsnet, but Rogers did not want to leave the property.

          Remember that EPL and Champions League offer indirect, not direct competition, to MLS and NASL. The fear is that fans won’t watch MLS or NASL because they watch so much EPL on Saturday mornings and no one wants to watch TV all weekend long. But their matches don’t conflict in terms of time with MLS or NASL games.

          But remember that in Canada, any Canadian product is valuable. Canadian sports with Canadian TV crews mean valuable Can-con CRTC air time. Without properties like FCE or Ottawa Fury or minor hockey or Toronto FC… the networks might not be able to pull in as many ESPN or FOX feeds of American or other international sports. I know it’s a lowest-common-denominator point, but the fact alone that FCE provides Canadian sports content makes it valuable for a Canadian channel.

          Reply

  4. Mike

    July 22, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Well done on the new pitch. Hope the players put on a good show Sunday.

    Reply

  5. Kahkakew Yawassanay

    July 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Nice they spent $1.2 million for plastic grass…ridiculous, but the small crowds and poor performance do not warrant such a large expenditure….brand new turf does not improve the skill and quality of any side and FCE need to invest more in their players and coaches to see success on this new carpet..so enjoy watching opposition run and score on the new pitch until such a time FCE drastically improves and finds players that can put the ball in the net the warm feelings about the new pitch will not linger very long….several home victories however will

    Reply

    • Steven Sandor

      July 22, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      City of Edmonton paid for the pitch, not FCE. Clarke Stadium is a City facility, not a private one.

      Reply

    • Madmonte

      July 24, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      You forget that their very important television deal with sportsnet was cancelled before this season, citing the reason that the current turf with football lines was unattractive to watch on television. It’s not always about crowds and performance, that’s not the only supply of revenue.

      Reply

      • Kahkakew Yawassanay

        July 24, 2014 at 8:39 pm

        It has already been proven that the expenditures put into developing players are not as productive as paying better players to come play for you for a shorter period..it is the chicken and the egg…develop young players and invest heavily in an academy where they will play against inferior competition and develop slowly or purchase more highly skilled players and see more immediate results..Edmontonians are a fickle bunch and they will support a club that wins ala Trappers…Oil Kings…so Fath’s need to invest in better coaches and players. CM has proven on many occasions he doesn’t have the ability or vision to tear teams apart with his kick and run systems he always employs..bringing in a non-dutch player-manager would be a start as that experiment failed badly twice …4 years in the NASL and averaging only 3500 this season is not a success…worst record overall in those 4 years…lowest average attendance in those 4 years…obviously it is not the success they thought it would be..so before the transfer windows close bring in a name player or several quality players, put these younger ones on the back burner and go for the fall title…nothing like a championship to draw in supporters. How they can continue to absorb the financial losses they have is a mystery and one I believe will not continue long if they are savy businessmen

        Reply

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