Portland Timbers Make an Unfortunate Trade

18 Sep 2015 12:12 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)

“Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” – Joe Biden

[A statement from the 107ist board of directors.]

For the past 5 years, PTFC has offered a Trimet pass for the day of each match free of charge with season tickets. This pass was a great benefit to the community.

  •  It cut down on traffic in an already congested area. Having that already-paid-for pass burning a hole in your pocket made it that much easier to hop on a bus or train to get to a match.
  •  It cut down on the number of people parking in a neighborhood with limited parking.
  • It likely prevented any number of DUI incidents by easily inclining many fans to use a free ride before a couple of beers at the match rather than making the choice after, with their vehicle already away from home.
  • It encouraged public transit usage, reducing the carbon footprint of every PTFC season ticket holder.

The Timbers are in a unique situation with historic Providence Park. They have been given keys to a stadium situated in the heart of downtown Portland in a location that money simply cannot buy.

Indeed, Providence Park is one of the few stadiums in North America without ANY parking belonging to the stadium itself. In 2011, PTFC recognized this situation and responded with innovative and unique programs from bike parking to arrangements with local garages to the free transit pass.

Are we as Timbers supporters owed a free ride to the game? No. Are we responsible for the decisions we make on game day about getting behind the wheel? Certainly. But it was nice to see our club making that smart investment in the safety and enjoyment of our community. It was a brilliant thing to do and demonstrated their commitment in making the Goose Hollow neighborhood a vibrant, pleasant, safe place to be.

It was part of what made PTFC and Portland better—a cut above every other team and city. Seeing PTFC slash that Trimet pass in the season ticket package was hugely disappointing.

They approached the board about it in the months leading up to renewals and we voiced our objection to no avail. They state that they are still “subsidizing” Trimet passes by offering them at half price, but it is hard to imagine that this is anything more than PTFC simply passing on the discounted price they get from Trimet. So, at no cost to the club how can it be reasonably described as a subsidy provided by the club? Indeed, a significant savings has been achieved by PTFC in cutting the expense of providing these discounted tickets for free as in previous years (a true subsidy).

This decision is especially puzzling when PTFC is by every metric financially healthy. Indeed Forbes magazine ranked PTFC the 4th most valuable franchise in the league with an estimated value of $185 million (remember Merritt Paulson paid $35 million for the franchise) and yearly profits of $4 million.

All of this comes at the same time PTFC has signed a sponsorship deal with Uber to provide discounted rides to and from the games. Setting aside the questionable business practices of this company, it is exceedingly difficult to believe that the deal with Uber had no influence or was not dependent on the decision to cut the budget for the Trimet passes.

From our perspective the club has traded an investment in our community and a benefit for its most loyal customers for yet another “partnership” designed to benefit the already healthy bottom line of PTFC. This is at best completely tone deaf, and at worst downright shady. Trading the expense to Trimet for the income from Uber demonstrates a change in values that is sincerely disheartening for people who love this club and this city.


  • 28 Sep 2016 11:34 AM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    James Belcher says:
    Friday, September 18, 2015 at 3:03 pm 
    Co-sign completely.

    John Acerbi says:
    Friday, September 18, 2015 at 4:15 pm 
    Well said

    Greg Iovino says:
    Friday, September 18, 2015 at 4:18 pm 
    I found it as a way to raise prices while having the abiltiy to say raise of only 10% vs. the >20% increase. Very good points raised.

    Jeff Jordan says:
    Friday, September 18, 2015 at 7:54 pm 
    Great points and I am bummed that I no longer get a Trimet pass with my season tickets. I used it every match. However, why did I only find out about this when I went to renew my tickets. Apparently the 107ist board knew about this ahead of time but decided not to publicize this info?

    Bruce Eaton says:
    Friday, September 18, 2015 at 9:33 pm 
    Jeff – there’s a decent amount of information that the FO shares with the board in confidence. I think it speaks volumes about those on the board that they honor such things. PTFC made the poor decisions here, not 107ist.

    @Freepdx says:
    Friday, September 18, 2015 at 11:04 pm 
    Completely agree, and honestly, this is one situation that MUST be fixed. It’s not like the stadium has loads of parking and is next to 2 freeways like the Rose Quarter. This is in a neighborhood, part of what makes the experience great. The club has got a lot right, and I commend them for that. They have really had a great pulse on what makes this thing tick. From food carts, to craft beer, to water stations, troughs in mens’ rooms, bike parking, early gates for TA, slashing friendlies, T2, Thorns! on and on. I honestly rank this on top of a short list of PTFC fails in the MLS era. They’re crapping on a portion of the best thing about the facility. It’s location. Isn’t it obvious why 45% of fans use the transit system for games? Because it’s the best choice! Furthermore, if you’re going to “partner” then do it with a local company like Radio Cab and support the jobs of the people in the community wishing to see your games.

    matt g says:
    Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 10:48 pm 
    So what is the next step for 107ist on this issue?

    Larry Shaw says:
    Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 1:13 am 
    agree 100% with the board on this. of equal, if not greater concern, is the way the timbers addressed this issue using half-truths and run-of-the-mill ticket rep talking points. either they think they’ve got us locked in due to supply/demand or they think we’re stupid…or both.

    Paul Krissel says:
    Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 12:01 pm 
    Agree 100%. Uber is undermining living wage jobs in the transportation industry both at Trimet and at area Taxi companies, who must abide by appropriate regulations to protect public safety and assure non-discriminatory practices (such as requiring sufficient vehicles for people with disabilities).
    I drive up from Salem, usually in a car pool, and am jealous of those of you who can use Trimet or bike to the matches. PTFC is moving backwards.

    Nancy Bales says:
    Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 5:03 pm 
    Thank you for your thoughtful and well-articulated post on this. I heartily agree with all of your points. In addition, you may want to respectfully ask the Timbers board representative to have Merritt Paulson check in with his father on the long-term business decision of supporting increased vehicle traffic and congestion in our urban core over encouraging and supporting the use of public transit. As Hank Paulson put it: “I am looking at this through the lens of risk – climate change is not only a risk to the environment but it is the single biggest risk that exists to the economy today.” Furthermore, what kind of example is this for an organization that was a founding member of the Green Sports Alliance?

    greta says:
    Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 7:59 pm 
    Well, city could make every match a free day or show your game ticket and ride free thing. That would be even better.
    What makes me sick about the Uber deal though…TRIMET takes care of us who are disabled and it’s affordable. Uber….private drivers are making calls on giving rides that are HIGHLY DISCRIMINATORY. Try getting a ride when you have a service animal. Try getting a ride as a minority to your low income hood at night…right. NOT COOL

    greta says:
    Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 8:11 pm 
    Also, just gotta mention…you have to have a smart phone to use Uber and they rate passengers and drivers…theirs a service of the general portland community…ugh. UBER ADA discrimination: http://fortune.com/2015/05/22/uber-lyft-disabled/ orhttp://www.ibtimes.com/uber-lyft-riders-disabilities-discrimination-often-comes-included-2052675

    Will E says:
    Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 9:57 pm 
    Stopped myself from posting when I first saw this, but just saw another crap performance on the field (another loss) and had to vent. I am not a season ticket holder, so this Trimet decision doesn’t directly affect me, but this may be the last straw for me with the Timbers. UBER?!?!? (or Scab Cab as I call them). This “company” bludgeoned its way into the city and everyone in city government just rolled over for them. Drivers do NOT make a stable living, legit cab drivers are going to be losing fares, and I won’t get into the safety issues (who do you sue if one of these cars hits you – you can sue Broadway Cab, but I suspect UBER says they have NO responsibility for its “independent contractors”).
    Also, who will eat the loss from these “discount” fares – UBER or the drivers themselves. I think you know. Raising prices, getting rid of Trimet passes, questionable sponsors – everything but a quality product on the field. TA (and ALL Timbers fans) just taken for granted. If you want to make more money Timbers FO, a contending team would be my first choice.
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