When people think of Portland, they think political activism, coffee scene, local breweries or perhaps a certain doughnut shop with an affinity for phallic pastries. Given Portland’s reputation as something of a hipster hub, people are often quick to forget that beneath the exterior layers of weed smoke and political rallies, Portland loves its sports.
Despite a lack of professional football team (no hurt feelings here) or a professional baseball team (for now, at least), Portland offers an array of sporting events waiting to be attended and enjoyed by Portland’s residents. Here is a quick guide to Portland’s best sports offerings.
Portland Trail Blazers
Let’s not kid ourselves, here. Portland is Rip City, after all. The Trail Blazers have crafted an identity for themselves as basketball’s renegades, serving as the conduit for such icons as Bill Walton, Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, the Eastern European bruiser Arvydas Sabonis and our very own Damian “Dame Dolla” Lillard. Even if you don’t fancy basketball, a Trail Blazers home game at the MODA Center is a rowdy, ethereal experience that is as Portland as it gets. Plus, Portland State students are eligible for highly discounted tickets for home games. All you have to do is sign up.
If you have ever caught yourself near W 20th and Burnside on a Portland Timbers game day, then you have witnessed the streets painting themselves with waves of green and yellow in support of Portland’s own Major League Soccer team. Portland manages to nurture a fanaticism over soccer—or fútbol—which rivals that of certain European or Central and South American cities. To attend a Timbers game is to feel the city rumble beneath your feet as thousands of fans scream themselves hoarse in a never-ending series of chants and songs. Although you won’t find a student discount here, witnessing the hysteria is well worth the $25–50 it will cost you to get yourself into the nosebleeds.
There is an unfortunate trend throughout professional sports where women’s professional teams suffer a severe disinterest from their cities when compared to their male counterparts. Portland, however, has responded to that unsettling tendency with a resounding “fuck that.” The Portland Thorns aren’t only the most supported women’s soccer team in the country, they are the best-supported women’s soccer team in the world. While the average game in the National Women’s Soccer League sees an attendance that hovers just above 5,000 people, the Portland Thorns averaged well over 17,500 in 2017. Throw on your black and red, grab some buddies and head to Providence Park to see the world’s most beloved women’s soccer team take the pitch for an experience exclusive to Rose City.
Canadians are responsible for creating one of the few sports in which you can witness players from opposing teams beat the ever-loving shit out of each other and not be ordered to leave. God bless hockey. Cheap beer, cheap food and some of the rowdiest fans in professional sports are hallmarks of the sport that has made itself at home in Portland’s Memorial Coliseum by way of the Portland Winterhawks. The scene at these games is drunkenly electric, and you’ll walk away feeling more like you left an out-of-hand house party than a sporting event. If that seems your speed, you can buy single game tickets for the same price as an IMAX matinee, or you can cash in on that student ID of yours again and buy a six-game package for $81.
PSU Men’s and Women’s Basketball, PSU Volleyball
What? You thought you were going to get out of here without me directing you towards PSU’s brand new, state-of-the-art $51 million sporting facility? Completed this past spring, Viking Pavilion will be home to both of PSU’s basketball teams as well as its volleyball squad. The arena boasts impeccable architecture, a backbone tickling PA system and a reserved seating section for PSU’s student body. You can get fully into the Viking spirit by attending any (or all, if you’re feeling ambitious) of the events held at Viking Pavilion for free. That’s right. As a student, you are given free entry to any and all sporting events for PSU’s athletic program. Throw on some PSU green, get together with your friends and go cheer on your Vikings.
I am a Senior in the Applied Linguistics Bachelor of Arts program at PSU. I currently work as a linguistic grader with WeLocalize, an international localization firm. I am excited to start Vanguard’s brand new sports section, and I hope to cultivate it in a manner that best serves and represents PSU’s various student athletes. When I am not at work or at school, I spend my time obsessing over the Portland Trail Blazers—and the NBA in general—with my wife, Maggie.