BEAVERTON, Ore. – Steve Purdy knows what it’s like to play soccer on a baseball field.
So when the Portland Timbers trained for the first time at the club’s new, $6 million adidas Timbers Training Center on a rainy Thursday morning, it had special meaning for the full back.
Purdy has been around for the club’s full progression as a former member of the Timbers USSF Division 2 side, which shared its current home at JELD-WEN Field with a minor league baseball team. First, the stadium was renovated into a soccer-only facility for the Timbers’ inaugural MLS season, and the next step took place Tuesday with the unveiling of the training facility.
“That automatically shows the club’s seriousness in MLS,” Purdy said. “And now as players coming in we know what to expect in terms of professionalism. It kind of just elevates that mindset and attitude even more. When you come out here, you automatically feel great, you know this club is a serious club when it comes to winning games and being professional.”
Located in a suburb just west of Portland, the state-of-the art facility includes a natural-grass field to be used exclusively by the team and a synthetic FieldTurf pitch for use by the public in partnership with Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District. The Timbers Training Center features a 6,000-square-foot indoor facility that includes locker rooms, training and fitness areas, offices and a players lounge.
“Merritt [Paulson, Timbers owner] spent a lot of money on it, and you can see where he spent the money,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “It’s a beautiful facility. It’s a class facility. I think the guys waited a long time to get in here. The natural progression, if you want to be a top club anywhere in the world, you’ve got to have your own practice facility.”
After the rain-soaked training session, players noted the positives of training on real grass. Previously, the Timbers would train mostly at JELD-WEN Field, which features a FIFA two-star certified synthetic surface, and part-time on the grass fields of the Tualatin Hills Recreation Center.
“Growing up and playing on grass and then going to turf, it’s always nice to go back to grass,” Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins said.
Paulson said the time that went into the facility’s construction and later-than-anticipated opening date has been worth the wait. Comparing it to other facilities in the league, Paulson said it’s in the “top five,” and said it will help with everything from recruiting players to the team’s quality on the field.
“It’s a must for the team to have a top-shelf training facility,” he said. “Any major league team needs that. And I think it will contribute to the culture and character of this club in a lot of ways.”
Paulson added that they’re not quite done adding bells and whistles, either, mentioning that adding amenities to the locker room could be next.
“Certainly, when the team starts winning,” he said.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.