August 30th, 2012 by Kelly McLain
The Portland Timbers have decided to widen the pitch dimensions at JELD-WEN Field starting in 2013. Four yards will be added, bringing the overall width to 74 yards, with the length remaining at 110 yards.
Particularly during Portland’s inaugural MLS season in 2011, opposing managers commented about the “intimate” nature of the Timbers’ home turf. Those comments have largely disappeared this season, but the club felt moving forward that increasing the size of the pitch went along with the direction the team wants to go, manifesting in Wednesday’s announcement of Caleb Porter as the new head coach. “I think we’ll be able to control possession a little bit more,” said GM Gavin Wilkinson. “We’ll actually be able to play a more fluid style.”
While restrictions exist, increasing the width four yards won’t be too big of an inconvenience. Senior Vice President of Operations, Ken Puckett, told NASN Portland that since the goal posts are set in cement, the field will remain situated in its current location with two yards added to both the east and west sides. Consequently, the ad boards on the west side and the LED boards on the east side will be adjusted to accommodate the extra space. In the northwest corner, the closest ad board to the doorway will be removed and affixed to the wall to allow passage around the corner. The corner flags will have to be re-posted, but Puckett said that would take no more than 20-25 minutes for each and can be done in one day.
Both Wilkinson and team owner Merritt Paulson have indicated that the decision to widen the field was not done at the behest of Porter, but the University of Akron coach will likely appreciate the increased space when he officially takes over the reigns sometime in December following the conclusion of the collegiate season. “[Porter] playing the way he wants to play, with the personnel that interests him, will be very effective,” Wilkinson said. “With the increased width, I think we’ll be able to play a little bit better quality of football.”
Michael Orr contributed to this report.