New Oregon Health Authority guidelines released Wednesday allow for fans to return at all levels of outdoor sporting events at the following capacity percentages, based on a county’s risk level:
- Lower risk: Maximum 50% occupancy
- Moderate risk: Maximum 25% occupancy
- High risk: Maximum 15% occupancy
- Extreme risk: Maximum 50 people
Multnomah County, where the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns play, is at moderate risk, which would allow 25% fan capacity.
The Timbers and Thorns begin their seasons in April. Providence Park holds up to 25,218. At 25% capacity, that would mean up to 6,300 fans could attend games.
“As we enter a period of great optimism with falling COVID-19 rates and increased vaccine deployment, the protection of our fans, staff and players remains our top priority and we will diligently follow all public health protocols to ensure our plan is executed safely,” Timbers and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson said in a statement. “It will be a special moment to have our fans back in the stands on April 9 and we hope that on the current trajectory, we will be able to safely increase capacity throughout the summer.”
The Thorns begin their season April 9 versus KC NWSL in their first match of the NWSL Challenge Cup. The Timbers on April 13 play C.D. Marathón in a CONCACAF Champions League match. The Timbers’ MLS home opener is April 18 against Houston.
The Thorns’ match will be the first fan-attended major professional sporting event in Oregon since March 10, 2020, when the Portland Trail Blazers hosted the Phoenix Suns. The next day, the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down the sports world.
The Blazers have submitted a limited-capacity plan to the OHA and government officials and are awaiting further guidance.
“Our plan is comprehensive and we are confident we can host limited numbers of fans safely in Moda Center and the (Veterans Memorial Coliseum),” Chris McGowan, President/CEO Portland Trail Blazers, said in a statement. “We are optimistic that this approval will come soon.”
The news also affects youth, high school and collegiate outdoor sports, including Oregon and Oregon State, as well as the Hillsboro Hops and Eugene Emeralds minor league baseball teams.
Oregon State, located on Benton County (high risk) could only currently allow 15% capacity to games. Oregon and the Emeralds, located in Lane Country (moderate risk) could allow 25%. The Hops, located in Washington County (moderate risk) could also allow 25%.