For fans of professional sports in Portland, there’s rarely a dull moment. While we might not be home to as many major teams and leagues as some larger cities, the game-day experiences that can be had year-round in the Rose City are second to none. With the Timbers and Thorns currently looking to make playoff runs in the Major League Soccer and National Women’s Soccer League and the Trail Blazers set to follow up a breathtaking season that defied all expectations, there’s no better time than the present to get swept up in the excitement.
Maybe you’ve read about the Thorns smashing attendance records in the wake of the Women’s World Cup, or you’ve had a friend or co-worker excitedly mention that they’ve managed to move up a few thousand spots on the Timbers’ season ticket waiting list following the recent expansion at Providence Park. The demand for tickets can make it feel like attending a game on the regular is out of reach for all but the most diehard fans, when in reality, tickets for all but the biggest matchups of the season can be obtained easily and affordably, provided you know where to look.
The Timbers/Thorns Ticket Exchange group on Facebook is your best bet for finding general admission tickets at Providence Park. Moderated by the 107 Independent Supporters Trust (107IST), the group makes sure tickets are resold at face value as a way to circumvent scalpers and fill the stands for every game. For the Blazers, keep an eye on SeatGeek and Ticketmaster marketplaces, as verified resale listings tend to fluctuate in the days leading up to the game.
Once you’ve got your hands on some tickets, you can begin planning your day around the event. Part of the beauty of the Moda Center and Providence Park lies in their central locations, making public transportation the way to go. Because of the lack of sprawling parking lots, you won’t find any traditional tailgating experiences like you might at a Ducks game in Eugene, but that hasn’t stopped fans from creating their own unique pregame experiences.
The general admission seating at Timbers and Thorns games means that the earlier you arrive, the closer you’re going to get to the action on the field. With so many supporters arriving early, much of the “tailgate” experience takes place in the stands prior to the start of the game. Swing by the Timbers Army Merch Van at 18th and Morrison prior to the game and pick up a “No Pity” scarf. Not only will you fit right in with the supporters, this important piece of paraphernalia will also act as a seat saver should you decide to take a stroll through the concourse.
If you’ve got tickets with assigned seats or some time to spare before gates open, you’ll find no shortage of nearby bars serving fans dressed in green and red. The Cheerful Bullpen (1730 SW Taylor), Marathon Taverna (1735 W Burnside), and Civic Taproom (621 SW 19th) are old standbys, while the beer and wine bar at the recently remodeled Northwest Fred Meyer (100 NW 20th) has become a new favorite for many.
Since you’ll always be heading to the Moda Center with designated seats, you’ll have plenty of time to catch a cheap buzz before paying stadium prices for food and drinks. The cash-only Billy Ray’s (2216 NE MLK) and weekdays-only Sloan’s Tavern (36 N Russell) are excellent spots to down pitchers before its time to mosey down to the arena for tip-off.
If you decide to hit the arena early, roam the concourse and get up close for the pregame shootaround. You might even be lucky enough to grab the latest in a series of posters created by local artists for each home game. With only 100 posters for sale at the Rip City Clothing Co., these eye-catching 12x18 inch prints rarely last long and are well worth the added effort.
The Timbers Army, Rose City Riveters, and Rip City faithful are a rowdy bunch, but they are also a progressive and welcoming community. Once you settle in and the game starts, you’ll be high-fiving, hugging strangers, and shouting at the refs like you’ve been at it for years.