What’s to Love: I have to confess – I’ve spent most of my 42 years not caring too much about soccer, and I still don’t know much about the game. However, when the Portland Timbers joined the ranks of Major League Soccer and the old PGE Park was renovated (becoming Jeld-Wen Field), I found myself drawn into the Timbers’ incredible fan base. I watched footage from the first game on YouTube and now find myself listening to the games on a little radio I purchased. As I listened, my curiosity kept growing – I needed to know more about what was going on inside that stadium!
Of course, getting tickets to a game can be problematic at best. Luckily, we were able to get four tickets, and I took the whole family to the game on Sunday, May 29th (2011). Is a Timbers’ game a family-friendly experience? YES!!! I actually preferred the experience when compared to going to a Blazer’s game. Of course, I enjoy the Blazers’ games, but their games are VERY loud and the increasing commercialism, prices, outlandish stunts, etc., made me appreciate the Timbers’ stadium experience.
Don’t get me wrong, the stadium is loud, but it’s outside and the 18,000+ crowd is dispersed a bit. For the most part, I could have conversations with my family without too much of a problem. Of course, we weren’t sitting near the Timbers’ Army. This large group of Timbers’ fanatics really energizes the entire stadium with large flags, songs, chants, boos, and cheers. They are really the heart and soul of the game, and it was fun to watch and hear all their antics.
Jeld-Wen Field is one of the nicest stadiums I’ve ever seen. They did such a nice job with the renovation of PGE Park. As at the Rose Garden, there are many different seating options – all sporting a great view of the action on the field. I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house. A large screen helps with close-ups and replays, which I thought was a nice touch. There are many different vendors for food, drinks, and souveniers.
Caveats: Bathrooms weren’t designed very well – at least the two we visited. Entering and exiting the same way creates some serious congestion.
Just like at any sporting event, fans tend to stand quite often, which can block the view of small children. All of the games thus far have been “sell-outs,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no tickets available for the remaining games. Contact their ticketing office for more information. This is something that you’ll need to get a jump on when it’s time to purchase tickets. Season tickets are quite affordable and there is already a waiting list for 2012 season tickets.
Website: Portland Timbers
Distance from Portland: Located in downtown Portland!
Recommended Ages: This might depend on the time of the game. I’ve noticed many games are later in the evening and accompanied by frequent rain (winter/spring). This might not be your family’s favorite spot on a weeknight with rain. However, for weekend afternoon games and good weather, attending a game is an excellent activity for the whole family. At the Rose Garden, I think small kids and infants should have ear protection, but I think they’re fine at Jeld-Wen. Since it’s outside, the sound-waves can escape the stadium.
Parental Stress Factor: Pretty low…the entryways are a bit crowded with people, so you’ll want to keep a close eye on your kids here.
Physical Difficulty: There are accommodations for folks with physical disabilities. You’ll need to talk these over with their ticketing office.
Family Fun Factor: High! My kids (3 and 7) lasted the entire game without much of a problem. The 3-year old needed a nap, but still seemed interested in the game. My 7-year old loved watching the game, and he would definitely like to see another game this season. I thought it was fun to be there with the whole family. I noticed many families enjoying the game.
Weather Considerations: I know true fans don’t care if it rains and much of the seating is covered; however, I wouldn’t have wanted rain that day with the kids. I think that would have been a bit of a bummer. Luckily, the rain held off and the temperature was perfect. Of note, most of the Timbers’ games are held during Portland’s best weather months (June – October). This year, there are 14 games during that span.
This season, there are five Timbers Reserve League games at JELD-WEN Field (4 remaining). These are very affordable ($10) and are also very family-friendly. This might be the best option for tickets, especially considering the ticket scarcity for the first-team’s games. The reserve schedule is also listed on the Timbers’ website.
Family Tips: You’re not supposed to bring in food, which is a bummer for the kids. I seriously doubt they would have a problem with Cheerios and water.
If it’s a bit cool, make sure you bring some smaller blankets for the kids.
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