Vancouver and Portland will necessarily engender comparisons during the lead-up to their 2011 opener and thereafter. We thought we would check in on the progress of both franchises from a business perspective, starting with their stadiums and websites.
In Portland, the Timbers site has a countdown clock until opening kick and prominently features opportunities to purchase tickets for the game. The ticket link brings users to a TicketMaster page that is available simply for deposits of $50 per seat. A second link provides season ticket pricing and benefits and explains ticket priority for current Timbers’ season ticket holders. Tickets range from $216-$432 per seat for the season and include 3 bonus matches. Interestingly, season ticket holders will get discounts at stadium concession stands, an offer not typically made by MLS teams. The rest of the website provides a stadium renovation update, history of the franchise and other general information. The site is easy to use but is not frequently updated.
In Vancouver, the Whitecaps’ web page also focuses on tickets sales but the Whitecaps are only offering season tickets to current Whitecap season ticket holders. Deposits have already been taken (and exhausted) for the first round of seats. Others are invited to place their name on a waiting list. Unlike the Timbers’ deposit list, the Whitecaps’ waiting list remains internal and asks questions about the prospective purchaser for research purposes.
In Portland, the team has announced the re-design of PGE Park to accommodate the Timbers in 2011. The $31 million renovation incorporates the existing structure to create a cozy urban stadium. The renovation will add seats to all four sides of the structure and will include the addition of a 1,500 restaurant. The stadium will also include an artificial playing surface.
In Vancouver, the Whitecaps have announced that they will play the first half of their inaugural season in a temporary stadium while BC place (their permanent home) is completed. The temporary stadium (which is actually quite nice looking) will seat 27,500 and will cost only 14 million to build. Given the low cost of the structure, this seems like an outstanding temporary solution.