Here's what you need to know regarding the TA at the December 8th MLS Cup match against Atlanta United, as well as events before and after the match. If you're going, please be sure to read this guide carefully and in full.
We do not have any information on any FO afterparties, so please do not ask.
Tailgate and Parking:
Tailgating and parking will be in the Yellow Lot (marked with red star below). The lot will open at 2:30PM. We are still working on some details, but beer and food cart (with meat and vegan options) will be available. You are more than welcome to supply your own alcohol. Specific tailgating policies can be found here: Tailgate Policy.pdf. It is suggested that you pre-purchase your parking passes ($12-68): http://parking.mercedesbenzstadium.com/.
Tickets will be distributed in person at the Tailgate starting at 3PM. It is strongly suggested that you be there in time to pick up your tickets at the tailgate. Registered/transferred names will need to match a photo ID for pickup. Portland supporter tickets purchased through the 107IST are for Sections 330, 331, 332, and 333 of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. A wristband system will be in place **for these sections only** to assist in preventing overcrowding of our sections. Please do not suggest moving or invite supporters into the section that are not wearing a wristband provided by the 107IST. The Portland section will be treated as general admission, so you'll be able to stand and sing anywhere within that designated area. Concession stands and restrooms are nearby, and stadium security staff asks that we use the facilities within our area, nearest our section.
At 5:00PM we will be escorted to the stadium for entry from the tailgate area. Due to the number of supporters we have and the extra exempt items we will have with us, it is strongly suggested that you march with the group to the section. Please do not rush to the entry gate ahead of the leadership group. If ADA assistance is needed for the match, please let the Travel Team know ahead of time. Also, please follow their clear bag policy extremely closely. Clutch bags can be no larger than 4.5"x6.5".
[section edited to clarify policy 12/7] Due to clearance issues, we will not be permitted to allow any flags, banners, or two-sticks that have not been cleared in advance with Atlanta by the Travel Team. Don't show up with flags/banners/two-sticks that have not been pre-cleared; they will not be allowed in! With this in mind, we will have plenty of flags supplied for the group. **No banners or flags may be attached to any part of the stadium by any means!**
After the match, stadium staff will provide a group egress after a 15-20 minute hold following the conclusion of the match. Please remain in the TA section until this occurs, and follow the lead of security.
Drew Picard and the 107IST Travel Team are the primary points of contact and the Supporter Liaisons for this match. Please follow the Timbers Army on Twitter or Facebook if further updates are needed.
If immediate assistance is needed, please call or text the 107IST Travel Team @ (850) PDX.AWAY (850.739.2929)
For general questions, please email AwayTravel@107IST.org ASAP!
Dos and Don'ts:
Supporter groups are encouraged to chant, sing and support their team. We ask that supporter groups refrain from using profanity or language that is deemed offensive to others.
All approved items must be brought into the building in advance of all gates opening to the public. The items may be staged in the seating section.
Supporter group items brought after gates have opened will not be permitted to be brought into the facility.
Standing on, or hitting seats is not permitted at any time.
Fireworks, flares, or smoke devices of any kind are not permitted to be brought into the stadium or parking lot. Individuals in possession of or igniting fireworks or similar are subject to ejection and possible arrest.
It is requested that we use the restrooms and concessions nearest our Away sections.
Members of our supporter groups are requested to not enter into, provoke, or incite any other supporter groups. Also, parading around the facility is not permitted.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium Policies
Have fun and support the boys in green!
-Your Timbers Army Travel Team
[Kansas City, KS, & Portland, OR; November 26th, 2018] While Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers prepare for the second leg of the Western conference final on Thursday, the Kansas City Cauldron and Timbers Army are forced to address the potential away supporters’ ticket allocation for MLS Cup.
Both of our organizations have been informed that there will be approx 1000 tickets available for away supporters in Red Bull Arena should they advance. That number is very close to the 5% away fan allocation that MLS supporters have been requesting for a number of years.
Our concern, and frankly outrage, lies in the preparation for a match at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. At this time we are being offered 900 tickets. That number is simply a slap in the face to all supporters that travel week in and week out to support their clubs. The capacity for the stadium is 72,000 which could be expanded for MLS Cup. 5% of that capacity would be 3,600 or more than 3 times what is being offered.
There are roughly 30-35k Atlanta United season ticket holders. That still leaves 40k single game tickets available in the stadium for a final.
First and most important, offering such a small number of supporter group tickets in a stadium with such a large capacity will create a major security concern. Away supporters will go to the secondary market when they are unable to secure tickets through the normal away ticket allocation process. Away fans will then be scattered throughout the stadium, putting both home and away fans in potentially dangerous situations for no reason.
We understand the advantage of being the host. That said, accommodating away fans when there is a non-neutral site must be a priority. Four of the most passionate fan bases in the league remain. The largest stadium in the league is most likely to host, and the two teams that will face off against them are being offered fewer tickets than the smaller of the two sites. This is simply unacceptable and does nothing to continue the growth of our clubs and league.
Kansas City has traveled with 1300 to Colorado for an away playoff game and over 1000 to Dallas for a regular season game. Portland's weekly traveling support is well documented around the league and demand for an MLS cup ticket will once again be incredibly high.
We request that the Away Supporter allotment in Atlanta be immediately raised to the generally recognized FIFA 5% for away fans. Passion exists throughout the league and we must support that passion, regardless of where a club comes from.
[The Kansas City Cauldron is an independent non-profit dedicated to the support soccer in Kansas City since 1996. The Cauldron works to create the best environment for supporters as well as advocate for all fans with the Sporting Kansas City’s ownership and staff. You can find more information at www.kccauldron.com]
[The mission of the 107 Independent Supporters Trust (107IST) is to support soccer in and around Portland, Oregon, from the grassroots to the highest professional level. The 107IST is a member-based non-profit organization open to anyone who loves soccer, the Timbers/Thorns, and Portland. http://www.timbersarmy.org]
107ist community outreach efforts were instrumental in helping get Portland’s chapter of Street Soccer USA off the ground, and we funded the local team to travel to the Homeless World Cup. Focusing on homeless, refugee, and at-risk youth in our community, the impact their work has done — and will do — really gets deep into the feels.
Continuing our support, our Timbers Army design team at No Pity Originals has collaborated with PDX Originals to create a unique studio sofa remade from retired Portland Airport furniture. With the reused tifo on the back, custom rose embossed fabric on the sides, and a durable leather alternative that matches the team's bench seats at the stadium, this one of a kind item also includes a beautifully finished log slab table from El Maestro’s MVP season. This studio sofa will be raffled off to donors of $25 or more with multiple entries allowed. If this isn't enough incentive, EVERY donor of $25 or more will receive our iconic No Pity scarf as a thank you gift for your support.
You can check out some pics on the PDX Originals site.
It really needs to be seen in person to appreciate the attention to detail. It will be moving around town to different locations over the fundraising period. Currently, it’s out at Rose City Futsal West if you want to check it out.
Please make your donations through Willamette Week's Give Guide portal and get in on this raffle.
It’s that time of year again! That’s right: It’s election season for our board of directors. Time to contemplate the future of the 107 Independent Supporters Trust and everyone’s individual involvement in it. The intent of this post is to summarize what we, as a board, both collectively and individually, feel we may need moving forward. If any of this speaks to you personally, or if you feel you have other skills that are applicable to accomplishing our mission, we invite you to run.
Two of three board members up for election are not running. Please join us in thanking both Mike and Lexi for their terms of service to the 107ist. Neither plans to disappear, by any means. They will both continue in different capacities that better align with where they are in their lives. As the board member in charge of TA tifo, Mike has done a great job of making sure there is a quality leadership team in place. As secretary, comms, and tech, Lexi’s current role is a different one to try to fill and likely won’t be the work of one person. Having someone with strong, applicable skills is important to the org. There is the possibility of separating the secretary position into an appointed one, similar to what we’ve done with the treasurer, but that’s a long-term discussion. Ultimately, the new board will work together to organize roles as best we can once we know who the new members are.
One question asked every year by Josh Barrett, long-time member and part of the 107IST Legal team, is whether we a working board or a strategic board. The answer has long been: We’re a bit of both, with a stronger emphasis on the working side. As a board, we feel this is at more of a tipping point than it has been in the past as we take on some broader goals and have matured more as an organization.
A ton’s been going on outside the stadium over this past year, too. For one, we have successfully negotiated the extension of our leases for the warehouse (five years) and the Fanladen (three years). While this gives us a little grace period to plan long-term facilities solutions, it’s not time to rest on our laurels by any means. We’re talking millions of dollars here, and we need to do this right. We have recently gone through the process of hiring professional bookkeeper services with a nonprofit focus that will take a bit of the the workload off the treasurer and provide further legitimacy as we pursue the capital campaign.
Over this past year especially, we’ve changed and grown organizationally. A good formula for success has long been to come out of a specific area of the organization to take on a leadership role in that area. In several key areas, there are now highly effective leaders that are not on the board. While there is still strong communication with the board on key issues, the board doesn’t need to provide direct oversight over minutiae. Of note, this in no way excludes any of the people in those areas from running to better perform that functional link.
We’ve been talking to a lot of members who’ve been thinking about running. As always, there’s a lot of hesitation from members who we, as a board, feel would be great contributors. Many know and respect the amount of work it is to be on the board, but are intimidated by the added workload and/or by the effort it takes to run. We all know, intimately, the process of running and can understand people’s reservations. Know this: No one knows everything about every facet of the organization. Go with what you know. Go with what you can bring to the table. That is what people want to see.
With the direction we’re growing, having someone with experience working with nonprofits — and strong bonus points for large capital campaigning experience — is a big need for us, as it’s starting to permeate many facets of our focus. Similarly, we could use someone with a solid project management background. If that’s you, really think about it.
As supporters culture is so close to who we are, we know many long-time members that have been taking more of a back seat for myriad reasons. Maybe family or work life took over; maybe other passions drew you in. Now maybe you’re in a better place to reassess your involvement. Could be the kids are finally out of the house. Maybe you’re settled into your job after finishing school or on an extended sabbatical. Maybe you’re retired and are getting bored with your bucket list and want to stay sharp on your game (you know about the studies). Our culture is a living breathing thing and it should be a struggle to keep it going. It’s a big part of what we do. Not saying it needs to be the old man at the end of the bar or someone who beat pickle buckets, but connections to our past as we move into the future will continually be valued.
One important role of the 107ist board are our deliberations. It can be tough sometimes, and friendships have been damaged over the years (temporarily, anyway). When called on to do so, the board has done a really good job of keeping the debate scholarly and putting the real work into finding the best solution. Some of the best qualities for this are the ability to be thoughtful, rational, and process-oriented. The board doesn’t deliberate in a vacuum, even if it may seem like that from some points of view. This is another area where someone with nonprofit experience could be valuable. Same with cultural experience.
Running for the board isn’t really about winning. It’s about willingness. It’s about being an active participant as we define who we are and what direction we should go. Think back on any of the other 107ist elections you can remember. How different were the priorities each year? It has a huge impact and carries directly into the Annual General Meeting. The more candidates we have, the better that dialogue can be. That said, if elected you will be expected to work, be responsive, and follow through.
Look, there’s no one perfect candidate (well, maybe there is but they’re not running … we asked). Any of you introspectively trying to tick all the boxes, just stop trying. The best way to halt a candidacy is to start making stuff up about stuff you don’t know. We all ask questions. None of us are alone in this. It’s the value of all our combined strengths as an org, well beyond the board, that makes us the force that we are. If you got what it takes, step on up and let’s do this.
The results are in, and Sebastián Blanco is the clear choice of Timbers supporters for 2018. With over 44% of all votes cast going to Portland's number 10, Sebastián Blanco is this year's winner of the Timbers Supporters' Player of the Year belt, receiving 465 votes out of 1051 votes cast in online polling.
Very few votes separated the second- and third-place finishers, with Diego Chara receiving 227 votes and Zarek Valentin receiving 224 votes. Jeff Attinella finished fourth with 35 votes, and Diego Valeri finished fifth with 26 votes. Together the top three finishers accounted for over 87% of all votes cast.
A 107IST member has generously donated a large group of tickets to the organization with wishes for them to go to youth in the community. The majority of invitees will be recipients of the Gisele Currier Scholarship Fund as well as other local youth. The Gisele Currier Scholarship Fund is a 501(c)(3) under the 107IST umbrella.
As a means to raise dollars for the fund and raise awareness of the program, the final four tickets are available for a lucky winner via raffle! In honor of Gisele we'd really like to see this program continue to grow, and for the Portland soccer community to become familiar with it as a resource.
In 2017, the Gisele Currier Scholarship Fund awarded 49 soccer scholarships to youth in and around the Timbers and Thorns academy area for a total of $19,953. In April and May of this year (2018) the GCSF awarded 29 soccer scholarships for a total of $13,055. Scholarship recipients range in age from 8 to 18 years of age, and scholarship award amounts vary based on individual need.
Support GCSF and enter for your chance to win 4 tickets (over $200 value) to the RSL match in the Widmer Southern Front Hospitality Space at Providence Park this Sunday. The section is directly behind the south goal. Bring your friends or follow the spirit and invite some youth.
$10 per entry or 3 for $25
Enter the Raffle Here!
The Gisele Currier Scholarship Fund is recognized as a 501(c)(3) by the IRS; and donations to the fund may be tax deductible (Federal EIN: 47-2324722). Donations of $75 or more will be acknowledged with a contribution receipt for use in tax filing.
I don't remember when I first met Coley, but I feel like I have always known her and her family. You might too. The tiny girls’ front row at the Thorns games; blazing red hair in a mohawk, adorable side cuts, in love with Christine Sinclair (like everyone, obviously). When I originally asked for ideas for match day drives, Coley was one of the first people who responded. Coley is a total badass and a current member of the East Coast Platoon. I asked her to write a blog post about MVM and what it means to her.
This following is a guest post by TA member Coley Lehman:This month’s match-day drive supports My Voice Music (MVM). I have been a board member of MVM since 2015. I care deeply about this organization and the impact we have on youth in the area. Here are some important statistics about My Voice Music (MVM):
Numbers tell one part of the story. Students’ own words tell another part.
“I was not speaking to anyone. I was angry. I didn’t know what to do. Music gave me a place to share what I needed to say.”
Hip Hop Artist Outreach Programs, Year-Round Artist Mentorship Student, Rock Camp Teacher
“The first time I heard a recording of my music, I felt a door opening in my life.”
-Joseph, electronic musician
MVM Outreach Student
“My Voice Music is hope.”
-Owen, multi-instrument & songwriter
Rock Camper & PreAmp Student
From the friendships I’ve made through 107ist, I know many of you have personal connections to this work with youth. It is important and often literally life-saving. Please support this month’s match-day drive.
Thank you, Coley (@propersneakers)
Coley has also curated a special list for the 107ist to use as a guide for more affordable items for this drive.
batteries (AAA, AA, cr2032, 9 volt)
ear plugs (the foam kind for sound sensitive folks)
markers (for making band posters, etc.)
dry erase markers
Large Easel Sticky Pads (25"x30")
multi-colored pipe cleaners & other things for kids to creatively fiddle with while taking breaks.
5 gallon buckets (for bucket drumming workshops)
alternate percussion (shakers, tambourines, triangles, etc) can be found in kids toy section of Freddy's
Blank CDs, similar to these (We go through lots of CDs at our outreach programs and need white ones in order to stamp our MVM logo and info onto them.)
Portable CD players
Headphones or earbuds
Music Specific Small Items (not found a target or Freddy's though)
Acoustic guitar strings
Electric guitar strings
You can also find MVM's wish list here.
—by Patch Perryman
It’s been quite a season for all of us in the Timbers Army. The capos, drummers and trumpeters thank everyone who joined us in the North End, on the road, and across the globe.
But before the season ends, we have one more request of you (AKA #BYCAP).
You may take it for granted that you’ll be at the next match, singing and chanting yourself hoarse. You’re from the North End and you’re there to make some noise, right?
But what if you couldn’t?
What if the joyful soundtrack of the Timbers Army was off limits to you?
You wouldn’t be alone.
Here’s how you can help:
Instead of buying a pint, consider taking that spare change, that small bill, whatever you would consider to be the value of a “thank you beverage” and put that money into our pickle buckets, which you’ll see hanging off each nest along with one on the main stage.
We will turn that money into tuition breaks for those campers, because even though grants are essential to run Camp Meadowood Springs, the costs campers face are often the initial obstacle for them to overcome. Since the first BYCAP ask back in 2011, the Timbers Army has raised enough to pay outright for 15 campers—and we cannot be stopped from doing more.
If you cannot be at the match on Saturday, September the 29th, you can donate here (select "TA BYCAP"). Every bit helps—no matter if it’s on the pitch, in the North End, or in our community.
Thank you. See you in the stands.
—The Timbers Army Capos, Drums and Trumpets Corps
The 107ist board would like to thank all who have participated in the discussion on this topic. Through this process we have given special weight to our Asian and Pacific Islander members and the broader API community, locally. While we don’t discount the ranging concerns around this issue, we believe that our use of the sunburst throughout our iconography is very different in meaning from the Rising Sun, yet we do understand and acknowledge the concerns of some of our members in this regard.
As a result, we will be retiring the green and white capo stand flag unless/until significant design changes can be made. Also, we have been talking with the creators/owners of the current BAF and Away Sunshine flag about evolving the flags to incorporate more Portland-centric elements that will make them more divergent to any perceived negative reference. They will be attending our board meeting next week to discuss paths forward. They have been hoping to have alterations to the Away flag ready to travel to KC on the 18th, but it may go into temporary retirement until those changes are completed. Due to the sizable logistics of working on the BAF, any significant changes would need to be an off-season project for them. Therefore, the BAF will be used in its current state throughout the rest of this season.
We also feel that this is a great opportunity to highlight some of the great work being done in our community to productively address hate. The local group Coalition of Communities of Color is working on a hate incident reporting app as a clearing house for incidents that will streamline tracking and response. The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) is leading the development of a highly detailed rapid response system of protocols that the reporting app will feed into to provide the most effective, unique response for each reported incident. This system is currently in the beta testing phase and is proving out well. The hope is to have it up and running in the coming months.
By continuing our relationships with many of our communities susceptible to hate, we aid in the social change to obtain self-determination, wellness, justice and prosperity for all who call Portland home. Through the strength of efforts like these we can contribute to an even broader impact on these present issues and we welcome you to continue to join us as we look for ways to do so.
This post is not an official statement on behalf of the 107ist board. However, it has been reviewed by the board before posting. This is an attempt not to state opinion or prescribe the solution, but to frame the issue in a way that elevates the discussion constructively as we move forward. While we continue to deliberate as a board, it is important that we continue to hear from you, our membership and community at large.
Well, as per usual, the Timbers’ participation in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has not been short on controversy. As we were hosted by LAFC in their first run at the Cup, a multitude of controversial things to talk about swept over our community. I’m going to be addressing one of these specifically, as it brings up some very valid issues that are being discussed within the membership and at the 107ist board level. While much of the discussion arose in social media circles, a lot of the deliberation at the board level is in response to a very well-thought-out email to the board from a member of the Tigers Supporters Group (TSG), the LAFC supporters group based in Koreatown. As many of you may know, when the Sunshine flag went up after the Timbers goals in LA, the recognizable similarity with the Rising Sun flag of Imperial Japan surprised those who know that the Timbers Army and the 107ist have an ethos that completely contradicts the embodied meaning in the Rising Sun flag for communities who suffered under the atrocities of Imperial rule.
The Rising Sun flag has been in use for hundreds of years in Japan and has always been a symbol of war. Rooted in use by warlords, it became a symbol of national military strength around 1870. Many atrocities have occurred under its shadow. As the first nation to truly embrace industrialization and its advantages in warfare, a sense of racial superiority grew out of Japan that led to the Imperial mindset as a colonial power in the region.
This perceived hierarchy of superiority allowed them to justify the subjugation of the occupied peoples as they expanded. This manifested itself in many ways, from the sexual enslavement of hundreds of thousands of young girls, to around 6 million people being forced into Japanese labor camps and mines from Korea alone, to thousands being forced to participate in torturous medical experiments (Maruta). In one gruesome example, hundreds of thousands of Chinese people were raped and/or brutally massacred in one particular campaign of savagery referred to now as the Rape of Nanking. An estimated 36 million casualties were created in the Asia Pacific during WWII under the shadow of the Rising Sun flag. What’s noticeably missing from that statistic are Koreans, as they’d been occupied for over 20 years by 1931 and were considered a part of Japan at the time. Some estimates put the total number of casualties from Imperial expansion much closer to 50 million. While this is a similar number to the casualties in the European theater at the hands of Nazi Germany, we all (in the West) can recognize the inherent negative meaning of Nazi symbolism; yet it has become apparent that we know little of the meaning of the Rising Sun for those who were occupied in the Asia Pacific. Unlike Germany’s efforts to atone for this period in their history, Japan has largely failed to apologize, atone, or even wholly recognize the grievous acts that occurred at their hands over the same time.
With the sorrow of many, the Rising Sun flag is still in use in Japan. It has become the flag flown for Japan’s defensive navy and, with slight variation, other branches of their defensive military. It has caused numerous controversies at sporting events through its use on uniforms, both flying free and being hung in the stands, and even as face paint. The casual way it is incorporated in advertisements, fashion, media, etc., serves as a continual reminder to many millions of people. One specific current use is very troubling and can be directly correlated to conversations and reflections we have been having here in this country and in Portland in particular. Anti-Korean nationalism in Japan has been making a resurgence using the Rising Sun flag as one of its symbols. Some of the hateful language used is almost verbatim, after translation, to the hateful vitriol that has been growing like a cancer in the US. Watching video of protests and counter-protests on the subject is eerily similar to what we’ve been seeing here in Portland in recent years.
We’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching as a community in recent decades as to our role in WWII, with much of this focusing on the internment of the Japanese-Americans living in our communities. What we haven’t focused on largely are the effects of Japanese Imperialism on the populations they invaded over this time. As a Pacific Rim city, we do have a sizable population of Koreans, Chinese, Pacific Islanders, and Japanese; however, they lack any real enclaves like what can be found in many of the other major cities along the West Coast, most notably for the Korean-American community, who have Koreatown in Los Angeles but no comparable community here. While many in these groups locally have gained growing cultural acceptance in this region over time, their assimilation with the wider population has been deep in some respects and lagging in others due to many factors. A part of that is choosing your battles, and raising awareness about this symbol hasn’t been the chosen battle thus far. That’s kind of what brought us to this situation, regretfully. Something that is this important to so many people, and having the larger population be basically oblivious, is a true societal failure. There’s no other way to put it, really.
I personally applaud the Tiger Supporters Group for bringing this to our attention. The strength of the Korean community in LA as a true part of the diaspora is a great asset to the overall region there, and to this country, for that matter. Brought together often through adversity sometimes more than cultural similarity, their community identity and solidarity with other minorities was formed through fire. Following the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Koreatown was reformed from an enclave of immigrants to a community that is deeply engaged as an active part of the cultural and political landscape, advocating not just on behalf of Korean-Americans, but for all minority populations. Through this strength as a community and their place in the wider region, they are more able to bring issues like this to the broader consciousness. This does deserve our support and does align with the ethos of the 107ist.
In comparison to much of this country, we all, as supporters of the beautiful game, have an above-average comprehension of the subtleties between flags. Every four years we’re reminded of this via the World Cup. The slightest variations between flags can mean completely different things. One example is the banter the Timbers Army has been trading with one of our rivals using marine signal flags (“Your ship is sinking; abandon ship”). Another example is the use of a sunburst, the shared element between our Sunshine flag and the Rising Sun flag. The sunburst is not limited to these two, as it’s used in the Nepali peace flag (red and gold) and has been used in Ireland (green and gold) for about as long as it has represented the national military of Japan. The green and gold sunburst in Ireland traces back to use by the Irish Republican Brotherhood and has been used as a symbol of their fight for independence for well over a century. Irish regiments who fought in our nation’s Civil War for the Union carried with them versions of the green and gold sunburst. It has also made its way into the terraces through the supporters culture behind Celtic FC, a group that largely shares our ethos.
Now, I’m not going to deny that our Sunshine flag wasn’t influenced at all by the Rising Sun, but the meaning behind the flag couldn’t be more divergent. The original Sunshine flag was conceived out of our tradition of being led by Timber Jim with his daughter’s favorite song, You Are My Sunshine. But, while the song has a lot to do with the Spread the Love part of our ethos, another aspect is the strength of our convictions, and ignorant of the larger implications above, the Rising Sun had that inherent strength. The making of that first incarnation was the largest single tifo display item we had created at that point. While small compared to the spaces we’ve used to paint our displays since then, it seemed big at the time. Its creation wasn’t like slapping a bunch of paint around like our other displays; this was hand-sewn, and the sounds of the sewing machines will still bring a smile to the faces of those that were there. During the planning stages, the flag got the nickname BAF (Big-Ass Flag) due to the relative size, and the name stuck. It made its debut on July 14, 2004 in, oddly enough, a US Open Cup match against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Open Cup for us back then was a huge deal. It was our one entry point into the CONCACAF Champions League and a chance for us to prove our heart and passion when facing clubs above our league, not only on the field as a club, but in the stands as supporters. Our passion and heart that we gave to our team to embrace led to some of the most epic moments of that era in club history. Even though we always fell short, Our Boys frequently did us proud.
Only a few weeks after the debut of the BAF, Timber Jim’s daughter passed away in a car crash. The resulting outpouring of emotion was codified though the singing of the song and the messages of love, hope, passion, joy, and strength were embodied in that flag -- all things that were needed for us to heal as a community and to give Jim the support he needed then and still does to this day. Truly, it became more than just a tifo display. When it goes up over the North End after we score a goal, its message of pure joy washes over us. Hope is one of the strongest characteristics of the human condition. Through literally the worst of times (well outside sport), hope can get people through. When hope is lost, one’s ability to cope is lost too, and any downward spiral is near impossible to get out of. We look to the Sunshine flag as a symbol of that hope in the darkest times and we use it as a symbol of our convictions. As a result, it is one of the most ubiquitous symbols in our iconography: shirts, hats, patches, scarves, stickers, banners, large tifo displays, tattoos, all inspire these very pure emotions through the incorporation of the sunburst, so much so that it’s a key element in the Timbers Army crest and the 107ist logo. This is the symbol we put on youth kits when we sponsor a team. This is the symbol that we use to take our message into our communities.
After the original flag saw such an abundance of use over the years, it definitely showed its age and was falling apart, so it was retired shortly after our move to MLS. Feeling its loss, a couple of supporters with master sewing skills decided to make a new one, again by hand, and that is the one used in the North End of our stadium now which has some obvious variances from the original. Later, they decided to create another one specifically for away days which is closer in design to the original BAF. This is the element that travels with us so the regional and traveling supporters can be washed over by it, and helps our support for the team transcend geographical space.
Now, given the knowledge brought forth about the meaning for many when they see symbols like our Sunshine flag, we are at a crossroads. The only thing agreed upon at this point is that we can’t do nothing. This is far from placating another supporters group’s concern; this is about recognizing an issue in our own community much broader than our flag. Knowing that members of our community are affected in this way by the Rising Sun flag cuts right to the heart of who we are as an organization. Any simple solution we choose will be a disservice to many of those among us. It must be more broadly and deeply addressed. In the days since this conversation started, we have started a dialogue on this with Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), who are fellow members of the Portland United Against Hate (PUAH) coalition, and will be taking this issue together to the wider coalition to discuss what can be done moving forward.
There is current talk about altering the flag or even removing it from our iconography. Removal isn’t really possible, as its breadth within our culture runs too deep. Even if we tried, it would only have the opposite effect, as any existing reference would invoke the specific negativity we’re trying to address. Altering it by simply adding elements runs the risk of sweeping the issue under the rug and could be taken as just putting lipstick on a rat. Even if you get into the specifics of the sixteen rays or something (our number always varies), it discounts the fact that alterations to the Rising Sun are presently being used as representations of the original. As it stands currently, the away day Sunshine flag is the closest representation, especially when it is displayed with left side justification of the sunburst. The very least we could do is be very specific about orienting the flag so the justification of the sunburst is to the right, which would both turn the reference upside down in the international signal of distress and provide us with a constant opportunity to discuss the why, just like many of our other traditions. Maybe that flag simply retires with the other.
Again, there is no real solution at this point. The important thing is we’re started processes, are having the dialogue, and we look forward to hearing from and working with more of our members and others in our community to address the issue.
Please feel free to comment.