Newcomers' Guide 2017
If you’re going to live in Portland, you need at least a basic understanding of the teams we’re rooting for. (And no, indifference to sports is not an option.)
Portland Trail Blazers
Season Duration: October-April (Regular Season) / April-June (Playoffs and Finals)
Home Court: Moda Center (Rose Garden)
Championships: 1 (1977)
Head Coach: Terry Stotts
Key Players: Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum
Portland’s longest running major league franchise also happens to be the city’s most recognizable team. While the Blazers have only won a single NBA Championship in their near half-century tenure here in Portland, fans are quick to embrace the team’s perennial status as scrappy underdogs and overachievers. Blazer guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum make a strong case for being one of the best backcourts in the NBA, and together they anchor a talented starting lineup that can prove a tough task for even the most overpowered teams in the league. If you want to cheer on the Blazers when they take on a highly touted Western Conference rival or one of the league’s superstars, you’ll need to jump on tickets well in advance and expect pay a little more. Meanwhile, tickets to matchups against the league’s non-elite can be obtained easily starting at around $20, so long as you don’t mind sitting up in the nosebleeds.
Season Duration: March-October (Regular Season) / October-December (Playoffs and Final)
Founded: 1975 (Joined MLS in 2011)
Home Field: Providence Park
Championships: 1 (2015)
Head Coach: Caleb Porter
Key Players: Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe
It’s only been seven years since the Portland Timbers entered the top flight of American soccer, and in that time the team has experienced no shortage of ups and downs. The roller-coaster season that saw the Timbers clinch their first MLS Cup was a wild ride that players and supporters will not soon forget. Recently, Timber’s Argentinian midfielder Diego Valeri became one of the fastest players in the MLS to reach the milestone of 50 goals and 50 assists. Meanwhile, fellow midfield linchpin Darlington Nagbe has blossomed into a reliable presence on the US National Team’s roster just in time to help lead the team to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Ask nearly any Timbers supporter, and they’ll tell you the best place to sit is with the Timbers Army, and they wouldn’t be leading you astray. Sure, you’ll be standing for the 90-minute duration, but general admission tickets make it possible to attend games with any friends or acquaintances who also happen to hold a GA ticket, and the atmosphere at Providence Park is widely regarded as the best in the country. With a sellout streak reaching back to the Timbers’ very first MLS home game, and a season ticket waiting list currently sitting at around 13,000, you’ll need to act fast to get tickets at the box office, but reliable resale Facebook groups make getting Army tickets on a per-game basis easier than you might expect.
Season Duration: April-September (Regular Season) / October (Playoffs and Final)
Home Field: Providence Park
Championships: 1 (2013)
Head Coach: Mark Parsons
Key Players: Christine Sinclair, Tobin Heath
After winning the NWSL Championship in the league’s inaugural season back in 2013, the Portland Thorns have gone on to establish themselves as perennial contenders at the highest level of women’s soccer in the United States. Led by the likes of Canadian legend Christine Sinclair and United States National Team playmaker Tobin Heath, the team boasts an impressive number of domestic and international stars, making them one of the best bets for catching world-class talent right in our own backyard. Much like the Timbers and their Army, the Thorns’ fan base is built around their own die-hard supporters club, the Rose City Riveters. Home matches get a very good turnout (the team currently holds the NWSL attendance record set at 19,123), but as long as you plan ahead, tickets are affordable and can be obtained easily through traditional box office methods.
The Best of the Rest
When the Portland Beavers went the way of the dodo in 2010, Portland was left without a baseball team to cheer on for the first time in over a century. Fortunately, it only took America’s pastime a few short years to regain its footing here in town. Collegiate wood bat side, the Portland Pickles play in the Great West League, and with games going down all summer long at Walker Stadium in nearby Lents Park, the Pickles might be the best bet for an affordable family sporting event outing. Meanwhile, the Hillsboro Hops, a farm team of the Arizona Diamondbacks, can be found holding their own in the Class A Northwest League out at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro. It’s also worth noting that while the players will come and go, as is the case with developmental league teams, club mascots Dillon the Pickle and Barley the Hop will remain irresistible forever.
The Portland Winterhawks are a major junior hockey team who play in the Western Hockey League (WHL), one of the three leagues making up the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). Over the years, the team has been home to a handful of players who would go on to successful careers in the NHL, including Hall of Famers Cam Neely and Mark Messier. The Winterhawks split their home games between Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Moda Center. The team boasts three league championships, most recently in 2013, and thriving attendance records make a strong case for Portland’s eagerness in courting an NHL franchise to the city sometime in the near future.
Last and certainly not least, the Rose City Rollers are a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association league, which holds its bouts in the Hangar at the Oaks Amusement Park. Rose City’s all-star travel team, Wheels of Justice, won the WFTDA Championships in both 2015 and 2016, and live sporting events don’t get any more exhilarating than last year’s come-from-behind victory. The exciting conclusion occurred in the dying moments of the final bout against New York’s Gotham Girls, when Portland played host to the championship tournament right down the road at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Miss these matches at your own peril.