City councillors agreed Wednesday to install new artificial turf at Clarke Park, but dropped plans to one day consider building a $120-million soccer stadium.
That’s a reasonable decision, even if MLS does seem committed to offering up a franchise to just about anyone who asks for one (and builds a stadium, and finds someone to come up with the expansion fee). So what made the city decide to reject plans for a new home for FC Edmonton?
Councillors accepted a $20-million plan to expand Clarke to 10,000 seats from the current 5,000 once a team can average 4,500 fans a game for three years.
FC Edmonton, which now draws almost 2,500 people a game, says it needs average attendance of about 8,000 to break even.
But council deleted a proposal to start planning a 20,000-seat stadium at a new location once an average of 9,500 spectators start showing up.
“I just don’t think it’s appropriate to make decisions in 2014 about something that might not come up as an issue until the 2020s,” Coun. Bryan Anderson said.
Okay, so that’s not so much “rejecting” a 20,000-seat stadium as “putting one off,” though it is nice to see that they’re considering the idea of having the soccer team share with the Eskimos CFL team if it should come to that.
What I’m still a bit unclear on, though, is why Edmonton is talking about putting up the money for the soccer team’s stadium, or what the city would be getting in return. (Okay, I’m also confused as to whether it’s Clarke Park, Clarke Field, or Clarke Stadium — the Interweb can’t seem to agree on a name.) It makes sense to wait until the team is showing it can draw more fans before expanding the place, but would FC Edmonton pay more in rent to compensate the city for the expansion? Does the pro team really just pay the hourly rental fee? Canada truly remains a strange, inscrutable land.