There’s no Timbers game to write about this week, so let’s bang out a few quick words on our next home game, June 19th against Sporting Kansas City. Specifically, the fact that, thanks to COVID restrictions being lessened, the stadium might be 80% full.
If you want details, you can go get them in this article. All I’m gonna do here is share a few thoughts and ask a few questions.
1) My first thought: I’m finally going to sit in my new section! This off-season, for the third time in three years, I moved my single season ticket, and this time I finally made it to the 100s. I’m pretty sure the view will be awesome, but what about my neighbors? I like having someone to talk about the game with as it’s happening. “Man, we’re sitting hella deep, aren’t we?” “That should be a yellow card, shouldn’t it?” “Did you see that run from Jebo? Valeri shoulda hit him.” Will my new seat have friendly, talkative soccer nerds on either side? I can’t wait to find out.
2) Proof of vaccination will be required for everyone over 16. How many people will make a fake vaccination card on Photoshop? My guess: not too many. Portland and surrounding counties have got a pretty high vaccine percentage, and I’d bet money that Timbers and Thorns fans are even higher. It wouldn’t surprise me if at least 90% of season ticket holders are fully vaccinated. Will some people make a fake card to get in? Sure. But I bet it’s a super-low number.
3) The club says we don’t have to wear masks, but I’m gonna anyway. Not because I’m scared of catching COVID, but because I’ve been masking up in public for so long now, I’m honestly not sure I’m psychologically ready to be around people without a mask. The other day, I sat down mask-free in a coffeeshop for the first time in 15 months and it was weeeeird. The other tables were a few feet away, so I eventually got used to it, but at Providence Park? With strangers literally brushing up against each of my shoulders? Then more strangers in front and behind, all of us screaming? Yeah, I’m totes wearing a mask, purely for psychological comfort.
4) How many people will actually show up? Yes, we’re allowed to be 80% full, but will we actually reach that number? Will some people be anxious enough to just say hell with it and stay home? Will they re-sell their tickets or will those seats be empty? How big a crowd will we actually have?
5) If we get a crowd close to 80%, how long are the lines gonna be to get into the stadium? They can be long and slow for a normal game. The first game checking vaccination cards? I’d get there hellllllllllllllllllla early, folks. It might take awhile.
6) Final thought: all of the above thoughts have been about the fan experience, but what about the players? How friggin’ psyched are they going to be? Finally playing in front of a real crowd? With a real Timbers Army? Real tifo, real capos, real songs, real smoke bombs? And all of us completely geeked up to be there after 15 months away? It’s got the potential to be an absolute madhouse. Think how much the longtime Timbers will enjoy it. Think how blown away the first-year Timbers will be.
I hope we’ve got the full 80% and I hope everyone comes ready to let off all the steam that’s built up during this quarantine. Let’s remind the players and remind ourselves just how wonderful a Timbers game can be.
And, just one last bit of advice: our cheering voices will definitely be in pre-season form, so if you want to last the full 90 minutes, bring throat lozenges.