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Timbers debut gets the money flowing

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Articles - April 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Timbers Army in force at the Bitter End (pictures above, by Matthew Ginn) and at games. The Army shows its devotion with chants like, "We are Timbers Army/We are mental and we're barmy."
Anyone who’s been to a Timbers game knows the Timbers Army. These are the folks who occupy section 107 behind the home goal, armed with chants, drums, rally scarves and energy to rival the players on the field. The "107ist" formed two years ago, as the push to move the Timbers to the major leagues began. Fans got together to lobby city hall to remodel the old PGE Park, and the formal 107ist organization was born from that effort. The 107ist is a nonprofit Independent Supporters Trust — thus the “ist” in the name — a concept that comes from European soccer culture. It now boasts more than 650 members.

The 107ist worked out a deal with the Timbers for selling season tickets in the Timbers Army section of the new stadium. For each $360 season ticket sold, the 107ist collects $10. It’s a deal similar to what youth soccer leagues used to get in the Timbers’ minor league days, with the front office not actively selling seats in the section. This, plus proceeds from sales of shirts, scarves, bus trips to away games, and more, funds efforts to improve soccer in Soccer City USA. “Anything we generate will go back into the community,” says Garrett Dittfurth of the 107ist.

The Timbers Army and 107ist have already saved Jefferson High School’s soccer program. “We got them uniforms, equipment, and shoes for the men’s and women’s teams,” Dittfurth says. The organization has also worked with Harper’s Playground, a nonprofit that aims to build a wheelchair-accessible play area for Arbor Lodge Park.

If you’re still confused about the difference between the Timbers Army and the 107ist, Dittfurth offers this: “Timbers Army is the party; the 107ist is the people who plan the party.”

Dylan Bird is the owner of The Bitter End Pub, which is the unofficial bar of the Timbers Army. He can’t see how the Timbers’ move to the major leagues could be anything but positive for his business across the street from Jeld-Wen Field. “We always did well at soccer games; I assume we’ll continue to do well. It’ll help everybody around the neighborhood.”

Given its location on Burnside Street, there’s not much Bird can do about the size of the bar, but he will do his best to accommodate the new fans that come in. He plans on adding to the beer selection at the makeshift second bar he sets up for home games and streamlining the menu so the cook in the tiny kitchen can keep up.

Bird expects the game-day rush will start earlier and last longer now that thousands of seats have been added to the stadium. Traditionally, Timbers Army people would pay their tabs and head for the stadium a half-hour before kickoff to set up. “New season-ticket holders might not know what the big deal is about kickoff and linger for an extra beer,” Bird says.

Preferred bar of the Timbers Army or no, Bird isn’t worried about competition in the neighborhood. “If I’ve got 200 people, I’m probably over the fire code, and that’s less than 1%” of the 20,000-plus seating capacity at the new stadium. He predicts bars as far away as NW 23rd Avenue will be filled for home games.

It’s not just business owners who benefit — employees will get their share of Timbers green, too. Restaurants and bars will have to beef up staff on game day, and anyone working those shifts will likely see more tips. “In addition to being busy on game day, servers go out on Sunday and Monday,” Dittfurth says. They’ll be spending the money they earn from Timbers fans at other establishments across the city.

A Timbers fan himself, Bird bought season tickets last summer. Then he realized he’d never get to use them — his bar will be too busy on game days for him to leave.



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