Providence Park – Portland Timbers
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Providence Park is the latest name for Portland, Oregon’s outdoor sporting venue. It has undergone many name changes and configurations in its history, but now is used primarily for soccer. Along with the Timbers, Providence Park is also the home of the Portland Thorns FC (NWSL). During the fall, the Portland State Viking football team plays here as well.
The current facility, built in 1926, has gone through many name changes and tenants. Prior to 1926, it was known as Multnomah Field, named after the Multnomah Athletic Club and used by the club for their amateur sports teams. Upon opening in 1926, the name was changed to Multnomah Stadium. The stadium was used for the occasional Civil War game (Oregon vs. Oregon State football) and some dog races. In 1956, the Portland Beavers baseball team moved in from Vaughn Street Park, which had been condemned. In 1966, the stadium was purchased by the city and renamed Civic Stadium.
Soccer and baseball have been the main tenants since the mid 70’s, with soccer finally winning out in 2011. Jeld-Wen partnered with Portland’s new MLS team, dubbing the stadium Jeld-Wen Field (known affectionately as The House of Pane). In 2014, a new partnership was announced with Providence Health, changing its name once again to the current Providence Park.
Food & Beverage 5
A wide variety of menu items are available on Timbers game day. Local products and vendors are the prominent choices here. Names like Zenner’s, Tillamook and Widmer are featured options available to fans. Zenner’s choices include hot dogs ($6) and Polish dogs ($6.25). You can also get brats ($7.50), a mac & cheese dog ($7), or Portlandia Sandwich ($9). All these items are available on the west side of the stadium.
On the east side of the stadium, which is under a very modern looking canopy, one will find specialty menu items. At the Bunk Bar, a pork belly Cubano sandwich, or a pulled pork hot dog can be had for $13. If you’re in the mood for something different, why not try yakisoba ($5.50), or chicken curry ($7) from Wok About.
Widmer beer is available for $7.25-$9.25. If you need something a little stronger, well drinks ($7.50), premium drinks, and top shelf are available for $8.50-$9.
The stadium, being almost 90 years old, has a huge amount of character. The west side of the stadium shows its age with the large wooden beams supporting the roof and the upper sections of seating with no seat backs really gives you a feeling of nostalgia. To contrast that, the east side of the stadium is totally modern, having been added back in 2010. When the seats on the east side are empty, you can see Portland spelled out on the seat backs. Even though the sides are so different, it is a perfect combination of classic and current.
I’ve heard others comment on the vibe in the stadium for a Timbers game and have chalked it up as hyperbole. After attending, I can say unequivocally, that the hype and vibe is legit. There are chants going back and forth between home and visiting fans even starting 60 minutes before game time!
Providence Park is situated just west of downtown Portland in a largely commercial neighborhood with the MAC (Multnomah Athletic Club – former owner of the stadium), The Oregonian (newspaper), and Lincoln High School being a few of its neighbors in the Goose Hollow section of town.
There are many options for fans pre and post game. The Cheerful Bullpen and the Bitter End Pub are two of the most popular spots. A few minutes west of the stadium is NW 23rd Ave, where visitors can find just about any food option available. The Ave as a whole went through a major upgrade some years back and is one of the most popular spots in town.
The Oregon Park Zoo and the Japanese Garden are a few minutes further west. The Japanese Garden is a very calm and relaxing place with amazing landscape and architecture on display. It’s a great place to unwind after the craziness of a Timbers game.
Soccer is king in Portland, and it all starts with the Timbers Army. The Army fills up the north side of the stadium and is vocal throughout the entire contest. Many MLS stadiums can boast a strong supporter group, but you would be hard pressed to find another group of this size and volume. They chant back and forth with the opposing team’s fans before the game starts. As a baseball fan, I’m not used to this sort of thing, but it adds greatly to the whole experience. The fans of the Timbers are top notch, knowledgeable, passionate, and loud.
Tri-met’s MAX train is the easiest way to get to Providence Park. The nearest parking garages are in downtown Portland, although there are a few businesses in the neighborhood that open their lots for fans. Most streets in the area have restrictive parking so parking and walking could give you quite a long stroll.
Inside the stadium, it is a little tight to get around. The concourse is decently sized, but when you have a full house, which is the norm, it fills up quickly. The bathrooms are a little small and there is frequently a line.
Return on Investment 5
Compared to other pro sports like NBA, NHL or the NFL, a ticket to a Timbers game has good value. Single game tickets range from $34-$182. Most games are sold out so walking up to buy your tickets just before game time is not a sure thing. It’s best to get your tickets way in advance. Based on the whole package – food, atmosphere, fans and what you get for your money, a trip to Providence Park to watch the Timbers is well worth the price and should be on a soccer fan’s bucket list.
Timber Joey, who replaced Timber Jim long time mascot for the team, is a spectacle all on his own. After every home team goal, he fires up his chainsaw, and takes a slice off a log that is set up in front of the crowd. The slices are given to scorers or goalkeepers (if they keep a clean sheet).
If you need a souvenir from your trip to Providence Park, the team store has anything one might want. You can pick up a shirt ($25-$30), caps ($25-$32), pennants ($15), jerseys ($95-$125), and so on. There are many spots around the stadium to find just the right thing you’re looking for.
Heading outside the stadium, the entrance to Providence Park features ivy-covered walls and an air of history. Included on the front wall is an awesome manual scoreboard that is featured to honor the old hand-changed scoreboard from inside the stadium. This board now features today’s game info, along with an upcoming schedule of the next few games.
Continuing inside, the display in the east end concourse is worthy of some time. Set against a classy wooden background, pictures and descriptions illustrate the history of the site, stadium and team quite well.
Finally, an extra point goes to the game day staff. For each area that you venture into before the game, you will be met by a kind usher and encouraged to take pictures and look around.
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