Providence Park, Portland, Or., United States

posted in: Foreign, Stadiums | 0

Construction: 1926 (extended and renovated in 1956, 1982, 2001 and 2011)

Nicknames: The House Of Pane

Previous names: Multnomah Civic Stadium, Civic Stadium, PGE Park, Jeld-Wen Field

Current occupants: Portland Timbers (MLS), Portland Thorns (NWSL), Portland State University Vikings

Previous occupants: Portland Beavers, Portland Mavericks*, Portland Rockies (Baseball), Portland Breakers, Portland Storm, Portland Thunder (American Football)

Opened: 09/10/1926 University of Washington v University of Oregon 23-9

Capacity: 21.144

Historical games:

1977 Soccerbowl ’77 New York Cosmos v Seattle Sounders. The last official game of Pélé
1999 4 matches 1999 Women’s World Cup
2003 6 matches 2003 Women’s World Cup
2013 2 matches CONCACAF Gold Cup
2009 Triple-A All-Star Game (Baseball)
2014 MLS All-Star Game

Other highlights:

1957 Elvis Presley has one of the first stadium concerts
2007 Highest score in the modern NCAA Football tournament – the Weber State Wildcats beat the PSU Vikings 73-68
2010 PGE Park is used in the TV-series Leverage

Providence Park is an exception in the MLS. Most teams will play in an American Football stadium or a stadium specifically designed for football, the Timbers play in a stadium with a history in American Football, baseball, soccer and Greyhound racing.

This diversity is immediately clear on the outside of the stadium: a facade in a wide arc and a more open straight side are the landmarks when you’re standing in front of the stadium.

The diversity in the stadium itself is even clearer. The big stand to the side and behind the goal are clearly designed for a baseball stadium while the stand on the other side is a typical football stand. But it works. The stadium is unique and is not ashemed to show it. It plays out its strengths and remains true to the unofficial city motto: Keep Portland Weird.

The first stadium was built by the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC). They had the land in their possession since 1893 and it was mainly used for greyhound racing, athletics meetings and assemblies. American president William H. Taft speeched here in 1909 for 20,000 school children.

In 1926 it was decided to make it a permanent Stadium and $500,000 was invested in the new infrastructure. The amateur teams of the MAC moved in 1933 and were joined by the Multnomah Kennel Club.

After the departure of the Multnomah Kennel Club the baseballers of the Portland Beavers made the stadium its home in 1955 and after the city bought the stadium for $2.1 m in 1966 it started a long list of sports and sports clubs moving in and out. The Portland Beavers left in 1972 and were succeeded by the independent Portland Mavericks* baseball franchise. These were replaced in 1978 by the returning Beavers. The Beavers would leave again in 1993. From 1995 to 2000, the Portland Rockies would make their home in Civic Park and they again had to move for the returning Portland Beavers. The Portland Beavers left in 2010 to El Paso as a result of a decision made by the city to make Civic Park a football stadium through a $20,000,000 costing upgrade. This was specifically done to bolster the MLS ambitions of the Portland Timbers.

In between those moves it also housed the American Football teams Portland Breakers (1985), Portland Storm (1973-1975), Portland Thunder (1975), University of Oregon Ducks (1926-1970) and the Portland State Vikings. The previous versions of the Portland Timbers (1975-1982), (1985-1990) and (2001-2010) also had their home in Civic Park.

The move to acquire an MLS license turned out to be a huge success for the Timbers and the city. Where the Beavers only occasionally attracted 10,000 spectators and often played for only a few hundred spectators each Timbers match is as good as sold out. The addition of the women’s team the Portland Thorns in 2013 also showed a surplus value. The Thorns became champion in their first season and attract on average more than 13,000 spectators per game.


Photo’s: Jeld-WenField2013 door Hawk00eyed used under CC, MultnomahStadium1930, MultnomahStadium1956 and CivicStadium1974 – Public Domain

*There’s a great documentary about the Portland Mavericks which shows the stadium as it was back then. You can watch it on Netflix: The Battered Bastards of Baseball.