Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian
The new east-side grandstand is taking shape at PGE Park, where the Portland Timbers will play their first home game April 15.
Timbers conversion of PGE Park takes shape
Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011, 12:30 PM
By Geoffrey C. Arnold, The Oregonian
The transformation of PGE Park continues.
The first layer of the artificial turf with field lines, a near-finished grandstand - with canopy - on the east side, restaurant and sports rehabilitation center are very visible indications inside the stadium. Those are the most obvious signs that the renovation of the stadium is progressing toward its debut, the Portland Timbers' MLS home opener April 14.
"For us to see the seats going in and the field lines down...we'll see the scoreboard come in the next few weeks, those are all big milestones for us," said Mike Golub, the Timbers chief operating officer. "I think people are really jazzed about it. The intimacy and proximity to the field really hit people over the head when they see it."
One of the most visible signs of the ongoing changes at the facility is the large black sheet-like layer of rubber covering the much of the surface of the stadium. That layer is the first stage of installing the artificial turf. White lines identifying the midfield line and circle, along with the 18-yard and six-yard boxes, can be seen on the layer. The next step is to install the actual turf, which is expected to begin sometime next week.
"The way the turf system works is you'll have 20-foot rolls of actual polyturf material rolled out side by side. Those seams will be sown together. Once that's completed across the whole field area, (it) will be attached to the perimeter," said Greg Holloran, project manager of Turner Construction, the general contractor of the renovation project. "Then the process of laying the sand and the rubber on the surface to give it a natural feel and cushion will begin."
Another sign of change is seeing how some of the white seats in the new east grandstand are arranged among the green seats to form the large block letters of "P," "T," "N" and "D," which will eventually read P-O-R-T-L-A-N-D across multiple sections. The arrangement of the east grandstand - located adjacent to S.W. 18th Ave. - and the entire stadium is to maximize optimal viewing and sight lines.
"There's not a bad seat in the house, that's the general consensus. Every seat is great," Golub said. "Everybody's definition about what a good seat is is different. In basketball, you get a small amount of 'these are the best seats.' In soccer, some people like being (seated) high, some people like being in the corner and others want to be on the ends. Now we have something for everybody."
The new club level and restaurant are located between the grandstand and street level. At the street level, a few smaller buildings will house concession stands and restrooms. In fact, the renovated stadium will have more restrooms and updated facilities. Another section of seating will be constructed on the south end of the stadium, which will sit in front of a new, large video screen.
"Now that we have seating on all four sides (of the stadium), it feels that much cozier and intimate than it did in the past," Golub said. "It really feels like that was the way it was supposed to be."
Watch for more on the stadium renovation next week.
-- Geoffrey C. Arnold