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Garber: Temporary stadiums a solution for teams

Firm behind Vancouver facility may be used in other markets

Jonah Freedman MLSsoccer.com March 20, 2011

(Getty Images)

VANCOUVER, B.C. – While Vancouver Whitecaps FC wait for renovations to their permanent home to be completed, they’re playing almost their entire 2011 debut season at a facility that was built in 111 days – and will be razed to the ground as soon as it’s done serving its purpose.

That’s an ideal solution for some other MLS teams, too, according to Don Garber.

The MLS Commissioner told reporters during halftime of the Vancouver-Toronto FC match at Empire Field on Saturday that the league has explored temporary-stadium solutions for clubs that are struggling to get their own soccer-specific stadiums built. And the successful launch of the ‘Caps’ temporary home is an excellent example.

Empire Field (above) was constructed in less than four months at a $14.5 million price tag by Swiss engineering firm Nüssli AG, which has erected similar modular structures in a number of countries including Germany, Austria and Australia.

The firm was contracted by the owners of the BC Place stadium – the permanent home of both the Whitecaps and the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions – which is undergoing a half-billion-dollar renovation scheduled to be complete by September.

Garber admitted on Saturday that the league has spoken with Nüssli about similar short-term solutions for other MLS teams.

“There are a handful of markets in the US where we need a stadium solution,” Garber said. “We’ve talked to this company about perhaps helping us out in a handful of markets. I think it would be terrific to get a concept like this in places where we’re struggling to get a soccer stadium solution.”

Temporary stadiums could benefit both possible expansion teams and MLS clubs currently working on finding permanent homes. D.C. United, who have been at aging RFK Stadium since the club's inception in 1996, have spent recent years trying to find the right permanent solution, while the San Jose Earthquakes and New England Revolution continue their quests to build their own soccer-specific stadiums.

Despite its ephemeral status, Empire Field is a full-service stadium that can seat as many as 27,500 fans. It features seat shells for 20,000 attendees; dual grandstands topped by steel-clad, metal-framed roofs; broadcast booths and 12 luxury boxes; and dual scoreboards and a 16-foot-by-28-foot video replay board.

The facility is ringed by 10 concession stands, 15 restroom trailers, two souvenir shops and both home- and visiting-team locker rooms and facilities in trailers.

The stadium was completed last June and will be torn down when the Whitecaps and Lions move into BC Place this fall and the grounds will revert to being a community field

http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/garber-temporary-stadiums-solution-teams.

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Would be great in Edmonton, even if it was only one or two of the stands! Just fire it in the back of a few trucks and you have a top-notch NASL stadium for a bargain price.

Funny -- they should send one stand to Edmonton (for Edmonton FC) and the other to Calgary, so that an NASL team could be generated in that city. :-)

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Its a cracking Little Stadium. I even watched a youtube offering from a fans vantage point. Atmosphere seemed spot on!

Reminds me of Fratton Park in Portsmouth or Oakwell in Barnsley. Proper little football ground. (appologies to the BCL) But ... I believe there to be One Major Problem in chopping up the stands and farming them off around the country.

After what may well be a (hopefully) sucessfull season bouncing WHITE...CAPS! of the walls and Tin Roof (BMO Field please note) will the Caps and Cap-esses* actually want to move into the Dome.

Over to you Caps fans.

(*Notice that Caps and Cap-esses bit, as oppose to Chaps and chapesses? takes talent that does:p)

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Its a cracking Little Stadium. I even watched a youtube offering from a fans vantage point. Atmosphere seemed spot on!

Reminds me of Fratton Park in Portsmouth or Oakwell in Barnsley. Proper little football ground. (appologies to the BCL) But ... I believe there to be One Major Problem in chopping up the stands and farming them off around the country.

After what may well be a (hopefully) sucessfull season bouncing WHITE...CAPS! of the walls and Tin Roof (BMO Field please note) will the Caps and Cap-esses* actually want to move into the Dome.

Over to you Caps fans.

(*Notice that Caps and Cap-esses bit, as oppose to Chaps and chapesses? takes talent that does:p)

With the investment put into BC Place they are definitely moving in hahah

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I understand and appreciate the option of getting seating for cheap, but FCE wants to make something permenant... So why wouldn't they build one from scratch, and not waste the money of buying/renting a temp?

If they have the Capital to build a brand new facilty then great, but tbh the biggest problem for flegdling pro teams is finding suitable facilties. Many new teams are not bankrolled by big spenders, so renting could make more sense in the short term until a team is established enough to build a pernament home. It would reduce costs and increase the chance of longer term success. I dont see a long list of Multi-millionaires wanting to build soccer stadiums for teams that dont exist.

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If they have the Capital to build a brand new facilty then great, but tbh the biggest problem for flegdling pro teams is finding suitable facilties. Many new teams are not bankrolled by big spenders, so renting could make more sense in the short term until a team is established enough to build a pernament home. It would reduce costs and increase the chance of longer term success. I dont see a long list of Multi-millionaires wanting to build soccer stadiums for teams that dont exist.

That's not the issue in Edmonton, he has tons of dough. The issue is that they want to go modular at first because eventually he wants to get the city into MLS, and wants an expandable facility ala Saputo in Montreal.

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That's not the issue in Edmonton, he has tons of dough. The issue is that they want to go modular at first because eventually he wants to get the city into MLS, and wants an expandable facility ala Saputo in Montreal.

I think this is the best option anyways. Having the basic structure for expansion is a good thing. I like that this shows that he's not expecting to get 20,000 fans right out of the gate, but wants to work his way up to something like that.

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Speaking of which what was the cost of Saputo when they opened? Was the covered side existing?

There were cement bleachers on the covered side. They installed seat on that, and built the office building, and other stands, renovated the field, etc, for 14 million.

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Stadé Saputo phase 1......................$14,000,000

2 year rental facility in BC................$14,500,000

Savings.........................................<$500,000>

Looks to me like Edmonton would be best to build their own expandable/permanent stadium than renting a facility from Switzerland.

I honestly do not know how this would even be a viable cost for New England or DCU. Gillette is rent free and RFK is still less than $7.25 million per year ($200K per game or $3.4 million for the regular season). Sure you could spread the setup and tear down over more years if you kept it longer but why not build a cheap Crew stadium style SSS at that point. It'll have a much longer useful life.

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Remember FCEdmontons Owners made their fortune in Construction. They if anyone should know how to put together a cost effective package for a construction project. The most appropriate land/location package is probably the most pertinent challenge they have at the moment.

Anyone know if complimentary tickets have been sent to the Mayor and the City movers and shakers, for the home opener, yet?

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It is too bad about Empire field our national rugby team doesn't have a national stadium. It would be pretty cool if Vancouver had our national rugby team’s stadium

Stadé Saputo phase 1......................$14,000,000

2 year rental facility in BC................$14,500,000

Savings.........................................<$500,000>

Looks to me like Edmonton would be best to build their own expandable/permanent stadium than renting a facility from Switzerland.

I honestly do not know how this would even be a viable cost for New England or DCU. Gillette is rent free and RFK is still less than $7.25 million per year ($200K per game or $3.4 million for the regular season). Sure you could spread the setup and tear down over more years if you kept it longer but why not build a cheap Crew stadium style SSS at that point. It'll have a much longer useful life.

Would a stadium cost that much for FC Edmonton? Stade Saputo was built with 12-13k seats, there is no reason for FC Edmonton to have anywhere near that. The first rule in sports management is to have fewer seats than you need to create demand and interest. it also creates a better atmosphere when the stadium is nearly full every game.

I haven’t been following FC Edmonton ticket sales but I would imagine a stadium with 3-6k is sufficient if designed to expand in the future. One grandstand and some seats on one end for supporters should suffice in the short term, that shouldn’t be an expensive project at all.

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Would a stadium cost that much for FC Edmonton? Stade Saputo was built with 12-13k seats, there is no reason for FC Edmonton to have anywhere near that. The first rule in sports management is to have fewer seats than you need to create demand and interest. it also creates a better atmosphere when the stadium is nearly full every game.

I haven’t been following FC Edmonton ticket sales but I would imagine a stadium with 3-6k is sufficient if designed to expand in the future. One grandstand and some seats on one end for supporters should suffice in the short term, that shouldn’t be an expensive project at all.

My course of action would be to build one main stand that will last the life of the stadium. The main stand would have to hold 5K+ and contain the luxury suites, press box, locker rooms etc, and on the other side of the pitch they can erect a cheap aluminum grandstand. Then if they ever want to upgrade it to MLS levels, they can go about it like Stadé Saputo and build a horseshoe around the main stand.

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From everything I've heard, the break-even attendance for USL1/NASL is something like 4,000 to 5,000. And that's average attendance, so you'd need a few crowds of 6,000 to make up for the snowy April crowds of 1,500.

So IMO it would be pretty short-sighted to build a stadium with fewer than 6,000 or 7,000 seats. That size stadium probably gives the Faths a chance to break-eve or make money, and will also limits the oversupply of tickets and will give decent atmosphere for matches with an average crowd.

If they leave one end open and the corners open, a 7,000 seat stadium probably grows to around 10,000 once you fill in the open and and the corners. 10,000 is IMO sufficient capacity for any sub-MLS league.

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