Professional soccer could soon return to Edmonton if the city agrees to fund renovations to Clarke Stadium.
The company, Fath Sports, which owned the now-defunct FC Edmonton, aims to revive the team as part of the upstart Canadian Premier League, and in time for the league’s planned launch in 2019.
FC Edmonton had been a member of the North American Soccer League from 2011 to 2017, but was shut down in part due to low ticket sales.
Clarke Stadium would serve as home for the new team, but requires extensive upgrades to meet the league’s standards.
“The renovations wouldn’t just be for FC Edmonton,” said Tom Fath, co-owner of the team. “Right now it is used by a lot of different groups … When the youth come into it and are playing in the same fields the pro team is playing, it allows them to play where their heroes are playing.”
Proposed changes to the stadium are scheduled to be discussed by city council this week, including increasing the number of seats from 4,153 to 7,000, creating permanent dressing room and laundry facilities, and adding more washrooms.
“I remember a while back there had been conversations about building a whole new stadium from scratch,” said Andrew Knack, the city councillor for Ward 1. “I’m encouraged that’s off the table in recognition that that’s a very expensive endeavour.”
Fath Sports also seeks naming rights to the stadium, as well as an exclusion from existing food and beverage contracts held by the city.
Projected costs for the proposals – which would be publically-funded – are expected to be revealed to the city for consideration this week.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.