Support Local Journalism!        

Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Portland Timbers fans camp out in line for the best Conference Final spots in Providence Park's the North End

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Timbers Army season ticket holders started camping outside Providence Park Thursday evening for the Saturday morning allocation of wristbands to get the best spots. From left, Rylan Trainer, making the crossed hammers sign of his second team, England's West Ham United; Evan Mutter, 17, who took the day off from school to line up; and their Timbers Army colleague, Steve Rogers, who prefers the front row of Section 104, Charlie Company.

Timbers fans were camping under the cover of the eastside stand early Friday morning at Providence Park. They were lining up for the best spots in the Timbers Army for Saturday's Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference final against Real Salt Lake at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

The club issues wristbands for fans to enter the stadium an hour and 50 minutes before kickoff, 20 minutes before the gates open to all fans, so that dedicated fans can snag the best seats behind the goal. These are the 104 to 108 sections in the North End, closest to the pitch and in the thick of the fan action. The club has increased the number of wristbands from 500 to 1,000 for Saturday's game.

Wristbands are issued at 7 a.m. Saturday, giving fans time to go home, stash their camping gear and return for a less-anxious entrance. People can save two seats each for friends using a scarf.

Fans started lining up with cots and bedding Thursday night, just as temperatures dipped from the 50s to the 30s.

Rylan Trainer, 21, was there with a cot and a sleeping bag and said the cold would be no problem. It was 8.30 a.m., and he was shooting the breeze with five other fans, who were at the front of the line.

"I'm saving seats for people who used to save me seats back when I was younger, when I didn't line up and they lined up. Back when I was like 15, 14. And now I line up for them," Trainer said after a night under the stars.

His Timbers Army colleague, Steve Rogers of Vancouver, Washington, said he wanted to get down in the front of Section 104, known by its military nickname Charlie Company.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - The line for prime spots in the Timbers Army was short at 8.30 a.m. Friday but is expected to wrap around the stadium at 7 a.m. Saturday on the day of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference final against Real Salt Lake.

"Unless you've got cleats on, it's about as close as you can get," Rogers said. "It's just nice to be able to see and hear what's going on and interact. And a lot of it's just the community of the people around you," he said of the Timbers Army. The raucous fan group recently regained its voice with the return of capos who lead the chants. It couldn't have come at a better time for a national TV audience.

If the Timbers win Saturday, they will have the home advantage and host the MLS Cup final Dec. 11, which would be a tonic for the city and for Major League Soccer, which has always favored Portland's European-style game day atmosphere and spectacle. While exciting expansion clubs have added energy in the past few years — LAFC, Atlanta United and Nashville SC — Portland's Timbers Army remains a studio executive's favorite.

Trainer of Beaverton followed the Timbers in 2015 when they won their one MLS Cup. He said getting tickets for the Dec. 11 final would be another matter, even though he is a season ticket holder and gets presale access for playoff games. "It's controlled by the MLS and not the Timbers. So, we're going to see how it goes."

Access goes by seniority, with longtime season ticket holders getting the first chance to buy. "You have to be pretty far down the season ticket list to not get a ticket, or just miss the time slot completely," Trainer said, his confidence high.

The line for wristbands used to start on the west side and wrap around to the east. The stadium was closed to fans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since reopening, attendances have been well below capacity and the line has been shorter. On Saturday, Dec. 4, it is expected to peak at 1,000 people at 7 a.m., when the wristbands are distributed. They are numbered so those who queued the longest get in first.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - The east stand at Providence Park, where fans with tickets began camping out Thursday evening for Saturday morning's wristband allocation for the best spots in the Timbers Army. The Portland Timbers are in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference final against Real Salt Lake at 3:30pm

"There's the whole line culture, as they call it, which is kind of fun," Rogers said. Because the line disbands several hours before game time, it never builds to the peak energy of a football tailgate. Still, people bring food, and discreet alcohol consumption is overlooked by the police. Others come and go for coffee or to local bars such as the Kingston during their 24-hour-plus stay. "Mostly we just hang out. Play cards. Somebody was talking about bringing a cornhole game to keep us busy," Rogers added. In a city that often resembles a campground, the police officers aren't looking to roust anyone here.

"One time they came because there was a guy throwing bottles, a couple of years ago," said Evan Mutter, 17. Mutter of Hillsboro said his parents gave him permission to take Friday off from Glencoe High School to join the line.

"Every once in a while, there's a crazy guy, but yeah, it's all pretty much cool," Trainer said.

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Portland Tribune
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow us on

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!

Go to top
JSN Time 2 is designed by | powered by JSN Sun Framework