The Thorns once again beat the Orlando Pride 2-1 in our home opener. The day started off auspiciously while the Riveters were setting up for the match. Capo Alex, whom you met here, knelt on the capo stage and proposed to K, unofficial Australian ambassador to Portland. She said “Yes!” and accepted his offering of a lovely blue (Australian) opal set in a gold ring.
Christine Sinclair got the official day started with some very brief comments about the team’s accomplishment last year and then unveiled the permanent banner commemorating the 2017 Championship.
After the anthem, the Riveters hoisted the “Faciamus Constellationem” tifo, reflecting Emily Menges’ declaration of “Let’s Make a Constellation” from last year’s championship rally. Based on medieval star chart designs, the tifo depicts Thorns-related constellations; Eisbär Major, Eisbär Minor, Rose Crown, NWSL13, NWSL17, and the Great Horan. There was a front stage banner in similar style.
Behind the scenes, this display was the largest single piece the Riveters have yet produced, covering 3,600 square feet. It was very heavy, especially when wetted by the rain, requiring 15 people on the lifting ropes and 20 people to carry. The tifo workspace is not big enough to handle such a giant piece of fabric, so the display was painted one half at a time.
Once the match was done and the post-game celebrations were complete, the Riveters offered special recognition to Christine Sinclair for receiving the Order of Canada during the off season by singing “O, Canada!” while holding up a two-stick banner of the medal.
Merritt Paulson announced that the Riveters will be getting a Championship ring. Look for it at the Fanladen later this summer and perhaps you can pose with it for a selfie.
In the Concourses
With the new season, there have been changes at the stadium. The east side concessions were shuffled around to accommodate the construction, which will continue during the week throughout the summer. It seemed to work pretty smoothly.
Less smooth was the first matchday with a new concessionaire. Centerplate was replaced by Levy and a lot of things changed. To the consternation of C.I. DeMann (and myself) there are no tater tots! Many menu items were dropped (including tater tots!) and the prices for what remains went up (fancy nachos and a beer = $19.50?), the beer selection is reduced significantly, the roving popcorn and cotton candy vendors are gone, there are notably fewer roaming beer vendors, and the kettle corn supplier was changed. I am unwilling to eat kettle corn, even in the cause of journalism, so I cannot say if the new is better than the old.
The main complaint I heard was about the lines. Clearly Levy’s new staff are not up to speed as it took some folks more than the entire halftime to buy a beer and burger. It’s probably just opening day shakedown and will surely improve. In fact, Merritt acknowledged and apologized for the quality and speed issues via Twitter. But for this fan it’s still a step backward. Especially in regards to tater tots!
The official attendance at Providence Park was 16,460 which is about 300 more than last year’s opener versus the Pride. This is not too shabby considering there was the Timbers’ home opener and the Blazers’ first playoff game the night before.
League-wide it was a very good weekend. The Utah Royals kicked off their home existence with a nominal sellout of 19,203. The weeks that follow will give us a good sense for the team’s success off the pitch – bear in mind that the Orlando Pride’s initial home match was a league-record 23,403 but their average has declined since. The Washington Spirit drew 3,458, so their average is up 21% over last year after two games. Sky Blue was not so fortunate, drawing 1,913 in poor conditions. That is a 25% decline over last year’s opener for them.
In total, attendance so far is up 47% over last year’s average.
Lifetime attracted 197,000 viewers to their Saturday match, the home opener for the Utah Royals. For comparison, the NWSL game had nearly 50% more viewers than the Spanish-language broadcast of the Tottenham-Manchester City match, but about half as many as the English-language version.
Our first match under the Friday night lights is next on the docket. We host the Washington Spirit with kickoff at 7:30 pm. The gates should open at 6:00. There may not be tater tots, but here’s hoping there are three more points in store.
Onward Rose City!