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Clarke Stadium

Edmonton, AB

Home of the FC Edmonton

3.3

3.3

Clarke Stadium (map it)
11000 Stadium Road
Edmonton, AB T5J 2R7
Canada


FC Edmonton website

Clarke Stadium website

Year Opened: 1938

Capacity: 4,080

There are no tickets available at this time.

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The Expanding of Edmonton's Clarke Stadium

Clarke Stadium has been around in northeast Edmonton, in one form or another, since 1938.

It played host to the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL for almost three decades before the Eskies eventually moved to the much-larger Commonwealth Stadium, situated right next door.

Since then, Clarke Stadium has been used for a number of different purposes, been torn down, rebuilt, and repurposed again.

These days, it plays host to the North American Soccer League’s FC Edmonton. While the main grandstand on the west side of the pitch seats just 1,200 people, additional seating was added in the spring of 2013 on the east side and to the south east and south west of the field. Seating capacity is now just over 4,000, with room to continue to grow the stands in future years as the need arises.

Overall, Clarke Stadium brings an interesting and fresh perspective to a pro sports world that more typically demands 10 times as many fans just to be considered a viable product.

3.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

Food at Clarke Stadium is provided at three concession stands, two located in the concourse behind the main grandstand and one in a tent to the south end of the pitch. The selection is relatively limited, with burgers, hot dogs, potato wedges, chips, and candy bars being the only choices on the menu. There is also a small selection of pop by the bottle and some choices of alcoholic beverages as well.

The potato wedges were very tasty but all the food we tried on our visit was no more than lukewarm, which was a little disappointing.

There are a couple of specialty adult beverage stands around the facility as well, offering a slightly better selection of beer and coolers than you can otherwise find at the main concessions.

Atmosphere    4

Since the new stands were added, crowds have gotten significantly larger; average attendance in 2013 after the new stands were built has been close to 2,200 fans, far outstripping the previous maximum capacity of the stadium.

In a city of a million people, that's still a relatively modest total, but it means that the fans here are dedicated soccer fans and not just hangers-on. As a result, the crowd seems very engaged in the action on the pitch, which makes it easy to enjoy the event.

Generally speaking, things are fairly relaxed at the game, with most fans in the stands focused on the action, some wander down to head over to the fan zone south of the field for a bite or to let the kids play in the bouncy castle. But it appears to be a fun time for all in attendance.

Considering that the main grandstand only runs from 30-yard line to 30-yard line and that the east stands only go from goal line to goal line, the vast majority of seats are in what would otherwise be considered prime locations and, with most of the seats filled, the crowd energy remains very good throughout the game; plunking the same crowd of a couple thousand into Commonwealth Stadium next door, with over 60,000 seats, would seem like playing in an empty venue.

I've heard comments in the past that having the gridiron markings on the field along with the soccer lines makes for an unpleasant viewing experience and admittedly, during the first game I ever saw at Clarke Stadium it took me about a half to get used to it. However, beyond that initial adjustment, I have had no subsequent issues with discriminating one set of lines from the other.

That said, there is a possibility that the lines will be completely switched out in the near future; as a condition of Edmonton hosting a bunch of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup games, Clarke Stadium may be asked to replace the artificial turf to bring it up to international standards.

One quick comment on the new stands: technically, they're temporary stands, made of aluminum, with comfortable seats in the reserve seating areas and less comfortable aluminum benches in the bleachers. If it's a sunny day and you enjoy heat, they're great, as the sun reflecting off the metal cooks you from above and below. If you're like me and there's a limit to how much heat you can take, this can get unpleasant after a while and you'll find yourself making frequent visits to the concessions for more fluids. Consider yourselves forewarned.

Neighborhood    2

The neighborhood surrounding Clarke Stadium is not great. Across the street to the immediate south is a concrete plant and most of the rest of the area is older residential. A couple blocks north east of the Clarke/Commonwealth complex, you'll find a McDonalds and a Subway, but aside from the odd little donair place, that's about all you'll find in the immediate vicinity.

Heading west a few blocks, you'll find yourself in Edmonton's Little Italy. A bit of wandering up and down 95th St. should get you to you a suitable place to grab a bite.

Sorrentino's Bistro-Bar is a solid restaurant chain in the Edmonton area, but they are closed on Sundays, so if that's when your game is, you're out of luck there. You can also try Santo's Restaurant and Lounge or, if you're in the mood for a deli sandwich, the Italian Centre Shop.

Generally speaking though, if you're looking for some pre- or post-game entertainment or dining, you'll be much better off heading elsewhere.

Fans    3

Personally, I enjoy being in a noisy, boisterous crowd that expresses their emotions all the way through the game. If that's the kind of fans you're looking for, go find the FC Edmonton Supporters Group, which was situated in Section 107 of the new stands at my last visit. Armed with drums and endless exuberance, they have a cheer for every situation and keep the energy up from start to finish.

Most of the rest of the stands are a little more subdued, but, FC Edmonton fans are dedicated, well-informed soccer fans who know their game, know when to cheer and when to boo. And they all seem to be out there having a good time, which is always a good thing.

Access    4

Getting to Clarke Stadium is fairly easy.

Road access from all over the city is good, with Clarke Stadium just a couple minutes west of Wayne Gretzky Drive, to the northeast of the downtown core.

There is a small parking lot to the south of the venue, but it is sufficient for the size of the crowd and a bargain at $5 a car.

The light rail transit system also has a stop right next to Commonwealth Stadium, about a block east of Clarke's front gate, so getting to games using public transit is also an easy option.

The front gates are on the back side of the main grandstand, with the two main concession stands located just inside those gates. The concourse has ample room back there and leads around to the stands themselves and the rest of the field. The new stands on the west side can be reached by way of a huge pathway that surrounds the pitch which means getting around is pretty easy, with very few tight spots.

Return on Investment    4

Reserve seating in the grandstand as well as on the east side in the new stands will run you $28 a seat, while general admission seating is only $22 and children under 16 can get in for just $15. That's a pretty reasonable price to see any professional sport.

Groups of 20 can also rent a hospitality tent at field level for $1,500 per game, giving people a similar VIP experience to luxury boxes in larger venues.

The NASL is still a relatively new league, having opened up shop in 2011. Although it is the second tier of pro soccer in North America, you are still going to be seeing professional caliber athletes capable of making big plays throughout the game. Consequently, the action is entertaining and you really can't go wrong for the price.

Extras    3

The FC Edmonton store is found in a tent to the south of the pitch. You can take care of all your "Eddies" apparel needs there, whether it be caps, jerseys or sweatshirts.

At my last visit in 2013 there was also a bouncy castle located to the south of the field for the kids to jump around in to occupy the time and also a free Slushee stand to quench people's thirst.

Final Thoughts

Expanding the stands is the first step for FC Edmonton that they hope will eventually lead to a dedicated soccer pitch in the Edmonton area as well as larger and larger crowds. If they can continue to grow their brand and get some good cross-pollination from the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015 things could expand rapidly in this soccer-friendly city.

This is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. If you're a fan of professional soccer and in the Edmonton area, this is definitely something to check out.

Gridiron lines suck

Permanent gridiron lines make it horrible to watch soccer. Way too high a grade given.

by Jim Willis | Oct 08, 2012 10:08 PM

Gridlines

Jim Willis, I found the football gridlines distracting for the first few minutes, but after awhile I didn't really notice them any longer. Your mileage may vary. Feel free to post your "Crowd Score" rating on the stadium as a comparison to my value. :)

by calgaryjimbo | Oct 14, 2012 12:55 AM

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Crowd Reviews

Clarke Stadium-FC Edmonton

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

Clarke Stadium opened up in northeast Edmonton at the tail end of the depression and became the host facility for the Canadian Football League’s Eskimos from the mid-50s to the mid-70s when the Eskies moved next door into Commonwealth Stadium.

Since then, Clarke Stadium has been used for a number of different purposes, been torn down, rebuilt, and repurposed again.

This year (2012) it is the residence of the NASL’s FC Edmonton, who played their inaugural season at the University of Alberta’s Foote Stadium. With a cozy grandstand that seats just 1,200 fans, Clarke Stadium brings an interesting and fresh perspective to a pro sports world that more typically demands 10 times that many fans just to be considered a viable product.

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Local Food & Drink

Sorrentino's Bistro-Bar  (map it!)

10844 95 St NW

Edmonton, AB T5H 1G1

(780) 425-0960

http://www.sorrentinos.com/

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