Itinerant Fan

Moda Center

The city of Portland, Oregon, has had a love affair with its NBA team for nearly 50 years. In turn, the Trail Blazers have given the city plenty to remember, from the Bill Walton-led title team of 1977 to two Finals appearances in the early 1990s, a 21-season streak of playoff appearances and the current up-and-coming club featuring a young, dynamic backcourt. On game nights, “Rip City” can be one of the most raucous environments in the league and a worthwhile visit for fans of home team and visiting team alike.

The Blazers’ home venue plays a big role in the franchise’s mystique. For many years, they played in the Memorial Coliseum, which had the league’s smallest capacity — meaning demand for tickets was through the roof, fans were right on top of the action and the arena was always loud.

Since 1995, the team has called the Moda Center (originally known as the Rose Garden) home, and while the move next door meant going from the NBA’s smallest arena to one of its largest, the wild atmosphere remains.

For any NBA fan, a visit to Moda Center also means a visit to a jewel of a city in the Pacific Northwest, which is also part of the fun.

  •   The Approach

    Moda Center sits just off the east bank of the Willamette River, which carves a north-south path through the heart of the city. Despite the river’s presence, it’s close to and easily accessible from downtown, the increasingly popular Pearl District and other neighborhoods on the west side.

    Especially if you’re staying downtown, it’s worth it to take advantage of Portland’s public transit options. The MAX light-rail system runs right by the arena — the Blue, Red, Green and Yellow lines all have stations at the Rose Quarter, the collective name for the area in which Moda Center and the Memorial Coliseum (which remains in operation) are located. The Rose Quarter Transit Center, which services three of the four aforementioned lines, is located just across the street from Moda Center.

    Another transit option is the Portland Streetcar, consisting of three lines. Two of them, the A and B loops, run between downtown and the east side. Get off at NE Broadway and Ross and walk a block south to reach the Moda Center. (Note: a $5 all-day fare purchased at either a MAX or Streetcar kiosk is good for travel on both systems.)

    If these options don’t work for you and you’d rather drive, the Rose Quarter is easily accessible via Interstates 5 or 94, which intersect about half a mile to the south. From I-5, exit at Broadway/Weidler Street and follow signs to the Moda Center. There are several parking structures and lots on the Rose Quarter campus, including one attached to the arena.

    This being the environmentally conscious Pacific Northwest, biking to the game is a viable option. The arena operates a bike parking area, and nearly all of the nearby bridges have designated bike paths.

  •   The Build-Up

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    Though it’s not the downtown core, there’s still plenty going on around the Rose Quarter. A major shopping mall, the Lloyd Center, is located about a mile to the east, and numerous restaurants, bars and hotels are scattered throughout the blocks in between, many with Blazers paraphernalia on the walls and in the windows.

    Thanks in large part to its vibrant food cart scene, Portland has developed a well-earned reputation as a terrific dining city, and some of it can be sampled near Moda Center. Some of the local favorites that have shops nearby are Burgerville, Sizzle Pie and Pine State Biscuits. A short transit ride away are the numerous food cart pods and brewpubs of downtown and the Pearl District.

    Closer to the arena, there’s a brewpub called Dr. Jack’s (named after legendary former Blazers coach Dr. Jack Ramsay) that operates on game days. It’s in the plaza near the arena’s southwest entrance.

  •   The Ambiance

    Don’t go inside without first checking out the “Rip City” sign, located next to a fountain between the arena and Dr. Jack’s. It’s missing the second “I” so that fans can stand on the sign and represent the “I” in photo ops.


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    After that, go on inside and check out the scene. It’s a big arena with plenty of room to move around in most spots, but the real star of the show is the concessions, which take a cue from Portland’s food scene as a whole. Some of the local purveyors that operate stands within include Sizzle Pie (mentioned above), Killer Burger, Po’Shines Cafe De La Soul, Bunk Sandwiches and Salt and Straw. All are worth trying in their own right.

    If you’d like a brew with your grub, you can stay regional there, too — beers from Pyramid Breweries, Portland Brewing and Laurelwood Brewing Company are all available.

    The seating bowl consists of three levels like many major arenas, but the lower bowl feels larger than normal. Upper-deck seats can feel a little removed from the action — after all, the atmosphere here can’t match the intimacy of the old Memorial Coliseum — but the arena has info boards along the perimeter of the ceiling area in addition to the main video board that hangs over the court.

The Particulars

Home Teams
Portland Trail Blazers

Address
1 Center Court
Portland, OR 97227

Year Opened
1995

Capacity
19,980

Upcoming Events
All times local
Roger Waters
Sunday, June 25, 2017
8:00 pm
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Shawn Mendes: Charlie Puth
Thursday, July 6, 2017
7:30 pm
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WWE: NXT Live
Saturday, July 15, 2017
7:30 pm
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John Mayer
Saturday, July 22, 2017
7:00 pm
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Bruno Mars with Anderson .Paak
Sunday, July 23, 2017
7:30 pm
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