What’s to Love: This is a 2013 season update for the Portland Trail Blazers! The 2013 year has been billed as a year for rebuilding; however, with the return of Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Mathews, and J.J. Hickson, the team has a strong core of veteran players that continue to make the team competitive. This is an exciting team with new coach Terry Stotts running an uptempo offense that is fun to watch. It also features the 6th draft pick and rookie of the year candidate Damian Lillard.
In only (as of this writing) eight games, Damian Lillard has measured up well to the attention he garnered in the pre-season. He moves quickly and efficiently on the court, and even as a rookie, displays leadership qualities at point guard where the Trail Blazers have needed it for years. He has a smooth shot and runs the pick-and-roll nicely with LaMarcus Aldridge.
The way he takes control of the game without a lot of bravado or showmanship reminds me of Brandon Roy or Andre Miller. He just quietly does his job, and does it very well! Just the addition of this single player makes me highly interested in following the Trail Blazers this season. Also, be on the lookout for the emergence of another rookie from the draft, Meyers Leonard. No doubt that Leonard will win over the fans with his dynamic style of play, even at 7′ 1″! I love his energy on the court and willingness to work hard.
Although tickets are getting hard to come by, the Trail Blazers’ staff members have done an excellent job at offering special packages targeted directly at families and/or groups. After all, buying (ala carte) tickets, snacks, drinks, parking, etc…could easily add up to a couple hundred dollars or more for 3-5 people. Check for tickets on the weekends. To help ease the financial burden of getting the family to a game, the Trail Blazers offer the following packages of special interest to parents:
Option 1: Fred Meyer Family Nights offers 4 tickets, 4 sodas, 4 hot dogs and a family-sized popcorn. Seats are in the upper bowl, but you can select your seats at the time of purchase.
Option 2: Block Party is an interactive way to enjoy a game. This package offers 12 tickets on the 100 level, group recognition on the big screen, all-inclusive food and non-alcoholic beverages on the club level, a giveaway item for each person, and the group keeps track of the blocked shots by posting signs against the wall.
Option 3: Custom Group Experience is a package of 10 or more seats to a game of your choice. This package includes group recognition on the big screen and savings on the ticket price.
Option 4: Club Seating is exclusive 200 level seating with all you can eat buffets and all you can drink (non-alcoholic) stations. Packages start at 10 tickets and can be for 1 game or spread out over a number of games to provide more flexibility with scheduling.
Option 5: Executive Suites are now all-inclusive with food packaged in with 16 tickets and 4 parking passes. Suites are located in the lower bowl and include a private bathroom, flat screen televisions, Internet service and an on-site suite concierge.
Option 6: Blazers Sky Boxes are personal boxes (mini-suites) and are located in the 300 level. They come equipped with a television, kitchenette, food and beverage catering options and 12 tickets.
Option 7: The Sprite Rip City Row is a way to throw a party in a private row in the 200 level for 10-20 people. RCR’s include $10 concessions/person, a special visit from Blaze the mascot, and big screen group recognition.
You might be thinking some of these options are unrealistic for your financial situation; however, if you get several families together, these options become more realistic. Contact the Trail Blazers via their website to inquire about specific prices for the various packages.
Caveats: Despite the news of constant sell-outs, tickets are still available for most games throughout the rest of the season (as long as you’re not too picky about where you’ll sit). For most games, the Trail Blazers offer a selection of both upper and lower bowl tickets available for people who wait until the last few weeks to buy.
While I’m amazed at how loud the Rose Garden gets, and I’m one of those people up on my feet yelling and screaming too, I have to admit that my ears were ringing for a day after the game. While my hearing is already pretty bad from years and years of playing music in bands, I think parents may want to be a bit more aware of the volume for their kids’ sake. We brought a pair of ear plugs for our 3-year old, and he actually liked wearing them.
Parking (see “Insider Info”) can be a challenge and food is not cheap! If you’re on a tight budget, beware of the concession stands. I always tell my son exactly what he can have before we even go into the arena, which seems to help a bit.
Website: Portland Trail Blazers
Distance from Portland: Within 1 mile of downtown Portland! Here is a Google map.
Recommended Ages: Younger kids won’t really understand what is going on in the game, but they may enjoy the spectacle of the Rose Garden crowd. This is one of those rare events that has the potential to satisfy the entire family from baby all the way to high school kids.
Personally, I think weeknight games are too late for toddlers and babies; although, you’ll see plenty of both at the games. My 3-year old could not make it through the whole game. Our 8-year old hung on until the end. If this is a concern, try to go for a “family Sunday” game, which is an excellent option because they are usually in the mid-afternoon.
Parental Stress Factor: If you think your young child will just get bored, the game can be a stressful experience trying to keep them occupied and in their seat. Plus, you’re going to have to deal with limited parking (if you don’t want to pay, which can be expensive) and maybe, kids constantly asking for snacks and/or souvenirs. Combine all that with huge crowds not necessarily looking down to watch out for your kids, and there is a definite possibility you’ll get a bit stressed out. However, if your kids are older, and you don’t have to worry about losing them, you will probably have a pretty stress-free time at the game.
Physical Difficulty: Suites are fully handicap-accessible. There are seating options for fans using wheelchairs. Please call the Trail Blazers’ office for more information on accessibility. If you park in the NE neighborhoods, you may be in for a 10-15 minute walk to the game, but it’s easy to get around in the arena.
Family Fun Factor: High! Portland has an incredible basketball team once again. The Trail Blazers’ organization does its best to put on a great family show that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people.
Pet Friendly: N/A
Weather Considerations: N/A – great indoor fun!
Insider Info: After acquiring tickets, parking will be your next challenge! The best option is to take public transportation – the MAX line comes right through the Rose Quarter and MANY buses come through as well. To make that an easy option, park downtown in a “Smart Park” and hop on the MAX or a bus. You’ll spend far less paying for the Smart Park than parking in a lot around the Rose Garden. The Rose Garden does have an attached parking garage, which costs $13 – nearby lots will costs you at least $15.
If taking public transportation is not an option, drive to the game and park in the NE neighborhoods nearby. I’ve been able to park within a 10-minute walk every time I’ve been to a game. It takes awhile to find a spot, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time. If you’re thinking about parking in these neighborhoods, look at an online map around the NE 2nd Avenue and NE Schuyler area.
Family Tips: My biggest concern bringing my kids – “What will they do if they get lost?” I don’t have cell phone, so calling is not an option. What is your family’s plan? Before you go into the Rose Garden, make sure your child knows what to do if s/he gets separated from you. If you have some suggestions for this, please make a comment below this article. Here is a statement from the Rose Garden Arena:
If a guest has lost their child – they should contact the nearest usher and they will take the information from the guest of who we are looking for. Typically we don’t want the parent to go too far away from the last place they were with their child so contacting the nearest usher would be the first step. The guest information booths at A7, A23 and C34 are also a great place for someone to go to report a lost child. From that point internally we will put out a radio call with a complete description (obtained from the guest) on all of our channels in the building.
For the ultimate family experience, get a bunch of your friends together and get a suite. If you can afford this option, it makes the game a pleasure, because younger kids who may not be as interested in the game can just play in the suite!
Kids younger than 2 years (i.e., if they’ve had their 2nd birthday, they need a ticket) do not need a ticket, but you’ll need to have that child sit on your lap the whole game. This might not sound so bad, but the games are at least 2 hours long, so this could become a problem later in the game. If you have a suite, babies can be carried in a backpack or other child carrier. However, if you’re sitting out in the crowd, your child carrier will need to be completely collapsible (like a sling, Baby Bjourn or Ergo carrier).
If you have a suite, there will be plenty of options for food – it’s like having room service in a hotel! Some options for suites are “all inclusive,” which means food is included in the price of admission. Certainly, you can bring water and any food for babies. However, do not plan on carting in your own food, especially if you’re sitting in the arena seats.
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