Stop and Smell The Roses: Timbers Mark The Official Groundbreaking

MLS' Don Garber joined Timbers' Merritt Paulson, and City of Portland's Randy Leonard and Nick

On a bright, shining morning in PGE Park, the sound of construction equipment went momentarily silent as Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber joined Portland Timbers Owner and President Merritt Paulson, City of Portland Commissioners Randy Leonard and Nick Fish along with a host of fans and team friends today to officially mark the groundbreaking of the new stadium renovations at PGE Park.

With all the recent frenetic renovation activity occurring throughout the stadium, it was Paulson who spoke to the need to take pause and enjoy the moment. “It’s a common bit of advice people give: Stop and smell the roses. And it’s appropriate right here in the Rose City,” said Paulson. “I’m a very goal-oriented, focused person. I’m always thinking about the next thing, what’s next, head down and moving forward. To be here today, when you look at what we’ve gone through to get here . . . [to be] adding another major league team to Portland—the first major league team in 40 years as an imminent reality—is a great feeling. It’s an absolutely terrific feeling.”

Donning construction helmets and taking hold of shiny gold shovels, the four made their way to a ceremonial dig site to break ground and celebrate what will be a vibrant and unique sporting venue not just for Portland, but for sports teams across the country. Garber spoke to the exceptional urban location of the field. “Soccer—football if you will—is by its very nature very tribal. It’s very community based and what drives the success of this sport in other parts of the world is . . . that [the] stadium is part of the community. It’s right there downtown and people can go from work, people leave their homes and they can get on the subway, get on the bus or walk. We have that here in Portland.”

Moreover, Garber talked about the excitement MLS has towards the burgeoning fierce rivalries in the Pacific Northwest between the Timbers, Seattle Sounders, and Vancouver Whitecaps, “The fact that we’ll have three teams in the neighborhood—a short drive, or a train ride away—will be a very, very valuable opportunity for us. It will show the world that Americans are passionate about this sport.”

Commissioner Leonard agreed, “For Portland to be a Major League Soccer city and instantly create this rivalry with Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., is exciting.”

Leonard’s colleague in Portland City Hall, Commissioner Fish, also talked about the importance of having Major League Soccer in Portland, not just for the team’s sake, but also for the community at large, “As someone who is passionate about soccer, who has a child in youth soccer and has seen what soccer can do to develop both athletic skills and leadership, and position someone in the future, I want to say how excited I am to have MLS come to Portland.”

In addition to the excitement on the field, the Timbers announced today the launch of the live streaming stadium webcam. Running 24/7, users can now watch up-to-date stadium changes and developments as they happen. With upcoming monthly time-lapse photo collages summarizing the renovation progress and the stadium virtual venue feature with online 360-degree, three-dimensional views of the new stadium designs, there is a host of opportunities to watch the new stadium come together.

Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer

MLSsoccer.com report is here.