If you want to experience the true spirit of Portland, skip the dinner cruise on the Willamette and get your family to a Timbers game. Whether you are a life-long lover of soccer, or you don’t know a corner kick from a penalty kick, a night spent in Providence Park will not disappoint. My husband and I recently attended a Timbers game to celebrate our anniversary (romantic, I know) and packed into this relatively small stadium is a perfect cross-section of our beloved city in all its weird glory. We saw all kinds of costumes and face painting and instruments (yes, I saw a trumpet, a triangle and cymbals) and general revelry. Old and young, rich and poor, singles and families, urban and suburban, hipsters and jocks—we all unite for the common purpose of cheering for OUR team.
And I use the word “cheering” very loosely. “Cheering” is more appropriate to describe what someone might do at a high school softball game. Especially if you are seated in or near the well-known Timbers Army, you will be carried away by NON-STOP (not an exaggeration) singing of Timbers chants. This designated seating area is full of flags, drums, smoke-bombs, banners, scarves and constant chanting. Of course, there is also plenty of alcohol, and some of the chants contain a foul word or two, so if you are looking for a more family friendly experience, or if you want to sit down AT ALL, there are plenty of other general admission seats available.
No matter where in the stadium you sit, the best word I can use to describe the air is electric. When I am at a game, I find myself grinning even when nothing exciting is happening! Catching dinner and a game made a perfect date night for us, and many families have also found that they are a great way to connect with their kids.
Amy Ginther, a mom of three from from Happy Valley says:
“I have loved watching our city embrace soccer…and the Timbers embrace our city! One of my favorite things about game day is exposing the kids to urban life. While suburban life fits our family well for day to day, I love the energy in downtown Portland and at Providence Park. We love swinging our scarves through the national anthem, tossing confetti and anticipating the smoke bombs that go off after a goal. The kids love scouting the crowd for Timber Joey and his chainsaw. It’s so fun for all of us!”
The Timbers have a unique relationship with the other professional team that shares their stadium: the Portland Thorns. The Thorns are a part of the National Women’s Soccer League, and they routinely lead the league in crowd attendance. The team and the players are known for investing in our city and our kids. Thorns games are another exciting family event, but especially if you have a daughter, the Thorns games are a wonderful opportunity to expose her to professional female athletes right here in our hometown.
Of course we love our Blazers, but there is something so uniquely Portland about the Timbers and the Thorns, something that is not found in many major U.S. cities. The Timbers capture the passion and loyalty of Portland people. If you are ours, we CLAIM you and we claim you LOUDLY!
At the game I most recently attended, the crowd was especially giddy about the possible return of a player named Diego Valeri. Valeri is one of the Timbers’ star players, and last year he sustained a torn ACL that caused him to miss the rest of the season and the first part of this season. Valeri was sitting on the bench that night, and occasionally the camera would show him on the huge stadium screen, and everyone would scream. Clearly, the man is adored. Then, a little more than halfway through the game, he started warming up, and the anticipation was palpable. When he finally subbed in and ran onto the field, the crowd LOST THEIR MINDS! And you know what, I did too! Did I really know who this guy was? Nope. Did I care? Nope. I was carried away by the excitement. I screamed his name like I was a teenage girl at a boy band concert, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
When you are in that stadium, you ARE Portland, you ARE the Timbers, and therefore, those players are yours. They are your brother or your boyfriend, and you scream for their injustices and celebrate their victories. The people sitting next to you and behind you are yours too. For a few hours, we forget about all the things that divide us, and we sit together and savor the unity. PTFC!
To buys tickets for a Timbers or Thorns game, visit www.timbers.com.