Portland Timbers plan to host fans when permitted by Oregon state leadership

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Dylan Mickanen
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Portland Timbers plan to host fans when permitted by Oregon state leadership originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

Thursday afternoon, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced the state will begin reopening sports stadiums to 25% capacity. 

In response, the Portland Timbers announced the team would likely welcome back supporters to attend games when permitted by Oregon state leadership. 

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Last October, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson tweeted how fun last season's Portland team had been to follow and how it's "a shame no fans have seen it live."

Paulson followed up by stating he wants to host fans at Providence Park sooner than later.

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"Oregon has managed COVID well," wrote Paulson. "We have the 2nd lowest infection rate in the country. We can 100% safely manage a limited crowd. Hopefully, we will get a chance in 2020."

The Timbers have not had any fans at Providence Park since a 1-0 victory over Nashville SC on March 8, 2020. The MLS regular season would be suspended due to the coronavirus the following week. 

During the restart, the Timbers have not allowed any fans to attend games but some other MLS teams have, such as FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC and Real Salt Lake. 

2,912 people attended the first FC Dallas game since the restart, more than 2,000 people are less than were permitted to attend the match.

However, the Timbers have held one of the league's strongest home-field advantages for seasons, currently holding a 163-game sellout streak with an average attendance of 25,218 fans in 2019. 

Per The New York Times, Oregon had at least five new COVID-19 related deaths and 331 new reported cases on March 10th, a 30% decrease from the average two weeks ago. The average daily cases in Multnomah County is 29 or four per 100,000 people over the last seven days. 

At the time of Paulson's tweets, Multnomah County has been approved for Phase 1 re-openings which include "limited reopening of personal services like salons and barbers, gyms, and malls, and restaurants and bars open for in-person service until 10pm," per Oregon.gov. Mass gathering such as sporting events will not be permitted until Phase 3. 

On Friday, March 12, Multnomah County moves to the “Moderate Risk” category permitting "further expansion of indoor and outdoor capacities at home, as well as at restaurants and bars, shopping centers, entertainment venues, gyms, faith institutions, and other indoor and outdoor services and activities," per release. That's an improvement from the "High Risk" category the county had been in. 

As far as cases in the last seven days, Oregon ranked 15th-best in the United States with 282. Per 100,000, Oregon ranks second-best with 7.

The Oregon Health Authority expects 70% of the state's adults will be able to have its first dose of the vaccine by April 21st, enough for most, if not all, willing adults to get it. 

"Based on current federal forecasts of vaccines received, we should actually be at a place at April 21, where we would have received enough vaccines to hit 70% of the adult population and as the president said yesterday by the end of May 100% of the adult population," Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen told the Oregon House Subcommittee on COVID-19 on March 3. "We think this is a reasonably reliable forecast of where we should be."

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Oregon has reported 158,360 cases and 2,314 deaths.