It smells of paint and plastic wrap, but the $31 million renovation at
PGE Park Jeld-Wen Field is nearing completion as the Portland Timbers ready for their Major League soccer debut in Colorado on Saturday.
The team confirmed in a press conference on Monday that Klamath-Falls based window and door manufacturer Jeld-Wen purchased naming rights to the former PGE Park/Civic Stadium in a multi-year deal. And although Timbers owner Merritt Paulson said he couldn't "talk numbers" following the presser, he noted the Timbers/Jeld-Wen relationship will be "a long-term marriage" and that the Timbers' home will be called Jeld-Wen Field for the foreseeable future. The previous deal with PGE, Paulson noted, was a 10-year agreement.
The team won't make its MLS home debut until April 14 (it hosts Chivas USA in a U.S. Open Cup play-in game at U of Portland's Merlo Field at 7 p.m. on March 29), and construction will continue right up until the home opener. But according to Turner Construction project manager Greg Holloran, work is "down to the final strokes."
Holloran spoke Sunday to five sessions of season-ticket holders and community groups snagging a glance at the stadium and answered questions about everything from wood-paneling to media microphone-placement to the cat colony roaming the bowels of the ballpark. Don't worry: The cats only come out late at night.
More photos/tales of feline woe after the jump.
The newest incarnation of Multnomah Stadium has a big-league feel, or, at least, a bigger-league feel than it did when there was a batter's box in the south end.
The new grandstand looks quite sporting — the wood paneling on its sleek ceiling is a nice touch.
Yes, plastic wrap gently waves in the breeze, and there's construction equipment, cones and boxes of varying size strewn along the edge of the FieldTurf, but the action is 20 feet closer to seats since baseball dugouts were removed. There's also an all-new sports lighting system, which will no doubt be blinding as players enter the arena from beneath the deafening roar of the Timbers Army.
They'll stripe it as late as "early April" and the team won't practice on its home pitch until all construction is complete, so it's possible both teams will be taking their "first steps" on it when the Timbers host the Chicago Fire on April 14.
EXTRA TIME: A couple more links!
* The dream of the '90s (and soccer) is alive in Portland.
* Want to track the Timbers' buzz on twitter? (Just me?) Try this hashtag. Translation: Rose City 'Til I Die.
* Lots more stadium pr0n here.
* Solid interview with Timbers coach John Spencer.
* The Timbers are the latest chapter in a rich Rose-City soccer history.
* The Timbers' chances this year may depend on proven scorer Kenny Cooper.