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Venture Portland funds grants to lure crowds for MLS week

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Hilda Stevens, owner of Bazi Bierbrasserie on Hawthorne, helped to spearhead the Kick Kick Score promotion that will lanch on MLS week in Portland in August. She and city leaders hope the All-Star Games benefits will spill into neighborhoods for the whole city to enjoy. Hilda Stevens lives, breathes, drinks and eats soccer.

She owns Bazi Bierbrasserie, a soccer-themed bar on Southeast Hawthorne and 32nd Avenue that celebrates and welcomes soccer fans from all over the region.

As a midfielder on the Whipsaws (the first female-only fan team in the Timbers’ Army network), Stevens partnered with Lompoc Beer last year to brew the first tribute beer to the Portland Thorns, called Every Rose Has its Thorn.

And this summer, Stevens will be one of tens of thousands of soccer fans in Portland celebrating the city’s Major League Soccer week.

With a stadium that fits just 20,000 fans, Portland will be host to world championship team Bayern Munich, of Germany, at the All-Star Game at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland on Aug. 6.

As fans watch the game in local sports bars and visitors flock to Portland for revelries, it won’t be just downtown businesses that are benefiting from all the activity.

Venture Portland, the city’s network of neighborhood business districts, has awarded a special round of grants to help businesses draw crowds during MLS week.

City Commissioner Nick Fish, the city’s ambassador to MLS, gives credit to Heather Hoell, executive director of Venture Portland.

“We had her at our first meeting of the MLS coordinating committee and she boldly put it on the table, she wanted to see the benefits (of the All-Star game) extend beyond downtown,” Fish says.

The idea for the grants came up as a way to complement the events that will be organized downtown and around the stadium, Fish says.

Some of the events being discussed include pop-up games with players from the Timbers and Thorns and MLS players; a potential immigrant and refugee soccer tournament; game-watching parties on Jumbotron screens; and a soccer-themed Sunday Parkways event on Aug. 3, just before the All-Star game, that will culminate with a concert in the park.

“The goal is to get as many fans a taste of the MLS All-Star game experience,” Fish says. “For Soccer City USA, this is a really big deal.”

Despite Portland being one of the game’s smallest venues, Portland is “thrilled to be in the global spotlight,” Fish adds.

All-Star Game organizers chose the Timbers to host “because they’re a model organization,” Fish says, “and what’s happening here is special.”

Mike Golub, Timbers president of operations, agrees. He’s working on organizing a free soccer-themed exhibit at the Portland Art Museum; an All-Star game practice that’s free to the public; a series of soccer-themed events, clinics and performances at Pioneer Courthouse Square (complete with mini field and big screen); and practices of the All-Star game that are free to the


“One of the imperatives (to host the All-Star game) was to make this truly a communitywide civic celebration, with the game being just a part of it,” he says. “The grants will hopefully catalyze some really cool things around the neighborhoods.”

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM  - A signed Portland Timbers log slab hangs and other soccer paraphernalia adorn the walls of Bazi Bierbrasserie. Venture Portland is helping neighborhood business districts invest in their soccer-loving communities.

Hawthorne hosts soccer shindig

On Hawthorne, the event is called Kick Kick Score. Participating businesses from 20th to 60th avenues will close off their side streets and sidewalks on Sunday, Aug. 3, and make way for an influx of foot traffic.

Temporary mini soccer fields will be set up at nine locations, and kids and grownups will be invited to try scoring a goal with as few shots as possible, navigating obstacles like beer cans and soccer paraphernalia in the way.

Shopping promotions and an awards ceremony with a speech by former Mayor Sam Adams will cap the day.

“We consider Hawthorne Boulevard a tourist destination,” says Stevens, of Bazi Bierbrasserie, who opened the large airy bar three years ago after moving to the neighborhood and wanting to create a community space that celebrated her German and Spanish ancestry.

The event will be “an opportunity to get folks from outside the neighborhood to come explore, see the shops and dining, and hoping, they’ll come back,” she says.

Hawthorne is also home to 442, the city’s biggest soccer bar, another reason it’s a perfect host for the MLS event.

Stevens wrote the grant for Kick Kick Score, wanting to do something different besides soccer movie nights and soccer pub crawls.

Kick Kick Score is a spin on Putt Putt Drink, an event run two years in a row by Brewvana, which runs a bus tour of Portland’s craft breweries.

The owner of Brewvana, a good friend of Stevens, agreed to be part of the Hawthorne event this summer. They’ll have shuttle stops along Hawthorne as well as pickups and dropoffs downtown, to accommodate the large number of visitors anticipated.

Solis will cap the event at 500 tickets to start. Tickets go on sale June 1 on their new website,

Business districts get a boost

The grant to the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association is one of the 19 economic development projects funded by Venture Portland.

Venture Portland distributed $37,000 in grants, leveraging an additional $179,591 in neighborhood business districts citywide.

Another funded project is the Parkrose neighborhood’s Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, a nonprofit with a spinoff organization called Historic Parkrose.

“We’ve kind of rebranded Parkrose,” says Ken Poirer, chairman of Historic Parkrose.

In the early 1980s, Parkrose (from Northeast 99th Avenue to Northeast 121st and Sandy Boulevard) was cut off from the rest of the city when Interstate 5 and Interstate 84 tore through the neighborhood. Prior to that, people drove through Parkrose regularly when Sandy Boulevard was the only way out east.

Portland annexed back Parkrose, but many are still unaware that it it is an actual business district, not just a school district. “We want to reintroduce it not just to the city but to its residents,” says Poirer, who grew up in Parkrose in the early ‘80s, moved away and recently returned.

He’s been working with other neighborhood leaders to “kind of give it a face-lift, and an understanding of its own history,” Poiror says.

So far they’ve done some small community events, but on June 14 they’ll hold the first Taste of Parkrose, a day of live entertainment, street vendors selling art, crafts and specialty items, a kids’ carnival area, kids’ arts and craft projects, and, of course, food.

Set for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., attendees will get to taste free samples from restaurants and food carts in and around Parkrose.

A large taste tent will be set up at Northeast Sandy Boulevard and 106th Avenue, featuring food from Mexican, Italian, German, Greek, Vietnamese, Chinese, African-American, Russian and Romanian communities.

Participating Parkrose restaurants include Good World Chinese, Old World Sausage Company, Neumann’s German Bakery and Antojitos Mexicano.

Live entertainment groups will perform all day: the headliner is El Raffa de Alaska & the Deadliest Catch Band, a local favorite.

Beyond the one-day event, Poirer says, the hope is that Parkrose will be seen as a destination location, just like other neighborhood business districts in Portland.

“The area has some empty spaces and empty lots. Our job is to introduce new business owners and developers to those areas,” Poirer says, noting that a grocery store would be high on the list of needs.

“We want to make sure all the businesses in Parkrose are healthy and successful,” he adds. “After that, we want to get a grocery store in the neighborhood. It’s a food desert. There’s nothing north of I-84. There’s $2 million to $4 million going outside of our district to purchase groceries each year.”

Science meets soccer

Soccer nuts won’t have to wait till August for all of the action.

• The University of Portland hosts the 4th World Conference on Science and Soccer next month, June 5-7.

• The conference has been held in: Liverpool, England; Port Alexander, South Africa; and Ghent, Belgium. This will be its first time held in the United States.

• The conference brings together people interested in the study and performance of soccer players — everyone from sports scientists and coaches to strength and conditioning specialists, sports physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, professors and students. Organizers expect the conference to draw at least 300 participants from around the world, bringing leading international experts in the field to share knowledge with a growing group of U.S. scientists.

• The conference program will feature speaker Rasmus Ankersen, author of the book “Gold Mine Effect: Crack the Secrets of High Performance.”

• Other experts will address new challenges facing the soccer world.

For more information, or to register, visit

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