Portland Timbers owner "cautiously optimistic" about stadium expansion plan

Is expansion in the works at Providence Park? It's starting to sound that way, with Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson telling the team's "Timbers in 30" show he's "cautiously optimistic" about a plan to add 4,000 seats to the downtown stadium.

"We would be talking about adding about 4,000 seats in a way that really works operationally on the east side over where the Key Bank Club is now," Paulson said, "basically bringing the whole stadium up to the level of the roof on the other side, still maintaining some street views even from the street on 18th Ave."

If the plan is approved, Paulson said the Timbers would aim to perform the necessary construction work over the course of consecutive offseasons, so as to minimize any disruption during the regular season.

"I think it would be a two-phase construction period if we did it, two offseasons, hopefully not putting the team on the road for too long a period in either case," Paulson said. "But there's a plan that looks to work there and work well for a site that's pretty compact... so I'm cautiously optimistic."

The Timbers have been looking at expansion possibilities for more than a year, and club officials said the current plan emerged as the best alternative this summer.

Paulson told "Timbers in 30" that the $50 million expansion would be privately funded and bring the stadium capacity up to about 25,000. He stressed, however, that there would be procedural hurdles to clear along the way before anything concrete is decided.

"We would still need to get an agreement with the city," he said, "and a number of other things."