“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.