MONTREAL – The next time the Montreal Impact take the field in MLS, it will be at Stade Saputo on June 16.
Impact owner and president Joey Saputo confirmed once again on Friday that the expansion of the team’s permanent home would be “98 or 99 percent completed” ahead of the venue's first MLS match scheduled in two weeks' time against current Lamar Hunt US Open Cup champions Seattle Sounders.
The club played its first six MLS home matches at Olympic Stadium and although there were concerns that Stade Saputo would not be ready in time for the June 16 match, the club president was adamant that no other option other than the upgraded 20,341-seat soccer stadium has ever been considered for the match against Seattle.
WATCH: Media tour of Stade Saputo
“There was no backup plan,” Saputo stated in a press conference before a media tour of the stadium. “We said, from day one, that the delays were going to be tight, we knew they were going to be tight. We kept working with the group in place here, and they felt comfortable that we were going to hit our objective.”
Saputo was asked a series of questions about the stadium’s playing surface, which is yet to be laid. Gazonnière Bastien are currently growing the grass on their premises in nearby Terrebonne, where they replicated the undersoil of Stade Saputo. This process is expected to translate into a smooth installation of the pitch at the beginning of next week
Another missing piece will be addressed only after the June 16 match. The club says that a total of 910 seats are set to be installed after Stade Saputo reopens with season ticket holders in those seats receiving an upgrade and relocation.
For supporters, the most noticeable improvement in the gameday experience will be the roof, which now spans all four stands. Covering a total of 6,948 seats, crowd noise is expected to quickly become a factor and Impact vice-president Richard Legendre believes the supporters’ experience should improve drastically.
“We’re expanding the stadium," said Legendre, "yet there’s now a more intimate feel to it.”