Courtesy of M.O. Stevens

Press Box Perspective: Promenading around Providence Park

Planning your game day in Goose Hollow with the Portland Timbers

By Peter Melling /// Staff Editor

The 2015 Major League Soccer season is underway, and the Portland Timbers look to rebound from last year’s disappointments. They hope to get back into the MLS playoffs after missing last year due to an 8th place conference finish. Win or lose, they still have a great venue, the recently renamed Providence Park. But what is the best way to spend your game day?

Getting to Providence

There are several routes to get to Providence Park, via public transport, car or bike. One of the best ways to do this is to take the Pioneer Express downtown, then walk up Taylor Street for about 15 minutes. If you don’t want to walk, the Blue and Red Max Lines stop nearby the park. It runs extra services on game days, even though the nearest station, Kings Hill/SW Salmon Station, closes an hour before game time. Fare is $2.50.

Due to the stadium’s proximity to downtown, finding parking is not difficult either. Providence Park is within walking distance of several garages, namely the SW 21st Avenue lot and the 21st and Morrison lot (TriMet also offers a game day bus from these lots.) There are few bike spaces at the park, as most of them are reserved for season ticket holders. Street parking is also a possibility, if the garages are full.

Peering into the pitch

There are several ways to get tickets for the Timbers games. The most obvious way is to order them through the team’s official website or at the park itself. However, these tickets are usually sold out days, if not weeks before the games start. Your best chances for tickets will be on the secondary market. But where are the best deals for seats? Here’s a breakdown.

Timbers Army General Admission:

These seats will probably give you the most value for your money ($28 from the team website, and anywhere from $35- $120 on the secondary market). General admission does not restrict anybody to a specific set of seats, so you can sit anywhere in the sections (which covers sections 101-108 and 201-208). The Timbers Army is one of the rowdiest fan groups in the MLS, so you must be prepared to join in the chanting and overall liveliness of the crowd. There are several drawbacks to these seats, namely that you have to arrive early to get a good seat, and that you cannot wear the opposing team’s color or merchandise.

Specific Seats:

For seats outside of the Timbers Army, I recommend sections 99, 109-115, as well as sections

of the lower bowl, which have good sight lines proportionate to their higher prices (ranging from $40-$50 at the box office). Avoid trying to get these seats on the secondary market, where they can range anywhere from $50-$180.

When buying from the team, the upper terraces (sections 209- 223) go for about $30 per ticket. While they are further away from the field, they still have good sight lines. The value terrace (sections 215-223), despite being the highest seats in the stadium, are only $18 per ticket and still offer good sight lines. Obstructed view seats are also available for $25 per ticket, but only through the team directly. Secondary market values for all of these sections are considerably higher than those sold from the team, often commanding two or three times their normal value.

The best nights

Because the Timbers play a weekly schedule, ticket prices will generally be consistent from week to week. Make sure to look at the MLS standings to pinpoint any struggling teams that are traveling to Portland. Also, for those not wanting to spend too much money, try to avoid matches against the Timbers’ rivals, the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Tickets for these matches command higher price tags, which may be an issue for some.

Grub around the grounds

Where else can you eat, be it before or after the matches? Many dining options are a quick walk away from the stadium, like The Bitter End bar, The Driftwood Room and the Gilda’s Italian Restaurant. The food at Providence Park is also fantastic, with many different options from traditional game fare (hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.) to less conventional items for stadiums (Thai curry, stir-fry, Stumptown Coffee and Korean barbeque). Portland food carts also join in on the action, as Soccer City Grill hosts several cartsover the course of the season.

Even if the Timbers don’t improve that much over last season, or association football doesn’t interest you that much,  you can have a great game day experience at Providence Park.

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