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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Moda Center – Portland Trail Blazers

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29

Moda Center 1 N Center Ct St Portland, OR 97227

Year Opened: 1995

Capacity: 19,980


The Home of Blazerball

The Portland Trail Blazers are the longest running professional sports franchise in the Pacific Northwest. The name “Trailblazers” was chosen by a wide margin in a fan poll in recognition of their pioneering efforts to bring not only basketball, but other pro sports to the region. Although they have only one NBA Championship in their 50-year history, they have won numerous Northwest Divisional titles and have gone to three Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, over the years they have faced either the Lakers or the Warriors in their prime over this period, or they likely would have more league championships. As it is, they have succeeded where two Pacific Northwest teams, the Seattle Supersonics and the Vancouver Grizzlies have failed. Portland is known as the “Rip City” a phrase coined by their original announcer for the many “swishes” shot by the smooth shooting teams of the early years.

The Moda Center has served as the home of the Trail Blazers since 1995. It was originally known as the Rose Garden, in homage to two other basketball shrines, the Boston Garden and Madison Square Garden. The name was changed in 2013, as GPS and local tourism guides found the name confused visitors who were in town to visit Portland’s world-famous International Test Gardens during the annual Rose Festival.

The Moda Center features three levels of seating (two general levels and a suites level). There are 70 skyboxes in the facility, which are located in between the lower and upper seating bowls. The arena holds 19,441 in its basketball configuration.

Food & Beverage 5

Moda Center offers one of the most diverse menus at its concession stands in the NBA. This is reflective of the diverse population and foodie culture found in Portland. You can always find the arena standards, but you owe it to yourself to try out the regional cuisine. The facility offers 70 concession stands, three bars, two cafes and a full-service restaurant.

Food offerings include Bap N’ Noodle (Korean), Cha Cha Cha (burritos), Crafters (burgers and chicken strips), Daddy D’s BBQ, Hen Pen (chicken wings), Hook/Line (oysters and fish and chips), Plum Tasty (organic bowls, salads and wraps), Red Hot and Rollin’ (popcorn, pretzels and hot dogs), Sizzle Pie (pizza), Tamale Boy, Hotstone (Italian cuisine) and Whole Sum (salad bar). If you have any room left, check out dessert at the 1927 S’mores Cart or the ice cream at Ruby Jewel’s or Salt and Straw.

Since Portland is a craft beer mecca, more than 45 brews are available at the Moda Center. Stop in at the 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Hop Valley Brewing, Adelsheim Local Cork, Heritage Distilling, Widmer Beer or the Crispin Cider Cart to decide what is your favorite, (You are taking the light rail home after the game… right? )

Atmosphere 4

You’ll know from the moment you step into the building that you are at the center of Blazermania. The color scheme features the red and black color scheme of the Blazer uniforms and the unique swirled logo of the franchise is everywhere. The arena features numerous exhibits covering the team’s timeline and greatest players and accomplishments. Once inside the seating bowl you will be impressed by one of the largest center-hung video boards in the NBA, with each of the four screens measuring 15’ X 22.5’. There are also auxiliary boards providing you with statistical information in each corner of the seating bowl. If you do need to leave your seat for a few minutes there are more than 650 TV monitors lining the concourses so you will not miss any of the action.

The rafters of the Moda Center are filled with banners saluting great Blazer teams and players. They include Northwest Divisional Championships, Western Conference Championships, and the 1977 NBA League Championship banners. Individual players with a banner include Bill Walton, Geoff Petrie, John Lucas, Clyde Drexler, Arvydas Sabonis and Coach Jack Ramsay.

Neighborhood 4

The home of the Trail Blazers is in the Rose Quarter, a sports and entertainment center located in NE Portland on the eastern banks of the Willamette River. The Rose Quarter includes the Moda Center, the Portland Coliseum (the former home of the team), as well as numerous restaurants and shops. The area is well serviced by hotels and restaurants, as the Oregon Convention Center is located just across the road. The area’s largest regional shopping mall, the Lloyd Center, is also located nearby. Portland has an excellent public transportation system, so visiting the downtown Portland area across the river is no problem.

The greater Portland area is one of the most popular tourism areas in the Pacific Northwest, with the natural beauty of the International Rose Test Gardens, the Willamette Riverfront and the Columbia River Gorge located just a few miles apart. For outdoors enthusiasts, rowing on the river or skiing /climbing at Mt. Hood are popular pursuits. Portland is also a foodie and craft beer capitol for the region.

Fans 4

Trail Blazer fans are known for their passion for the team as sellouts are the norm for games. They arrive early and begin their “Rip City” chant even during the team warmups. Portland is a small market by NBA standards, so the relationship between the players and their fans is almost at the “neighbor” level. The team participates heavily in the community and visits the local schools and neighborhood festivals on a regular basis.

If you think the Moda Center is one of the louder NBA venues, you have been to… there is a reason for that. An “acoustical cloud” hangs over the arena. This cloud is made up of 160 rotating acoustical panels, which can be adjusted to deflect or absorb sound. For Trail Blazer games, it is set to deflect the noise back down to the court. If you were at the facility for a play, it would be set to adsorb noise. Ingenious, eh? Also keeping the crowd at a fever pitch is Blaze, the team’s mascot. He is a trail cat that wandered down from nearby Mt. Hood and discovered a love for basketball.

Access 5

Getting to the Moda Center is very convenient, as it can be accessed via I-5, I-205, I-84 and Highway 26 Eastbound. The Center also has its own Transit Station (Rose Quarter), which is served by the Blue, Green and Red Lines of the Tri-Met MAX Light Rail System. There are more than 4,000 parking spaces in the lots surrounding the Rose Quarter complex. Several hike/bike trails also lead to the Rose Quarter and there are enough bike racks on site to handle more than 300 bikes.

The arena has multiple entrances, and once inside the building the concourses are wide and easy to navigate. Doors open at 5:30 pm for night games, allowing plenty of time for visitors to tour the facility and get a pregame meal. There are more than 35 restroom facilities and 70 concessions stands to service fans’ needs with little or no lines to contend with.

Return on Investment 4

The average ticket price for a Trail Blazers game is $53 but may be higher for selected opponents. Parking in one of the surrounding lots runs $20. Day Pass fares on the Tri-Met Light Rail System are $5 for adults and $2.50 for children, seniors and members of the military. Hotels in the vicinity of the Moda Center / Convention Center run $130- $150 per night. Concession prices at the Trail Blazer games are quite reasonable

Extras 4

The 2019-2020 season marks the 50th anniversary of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise. The team is using a court featuring a 50th Anniversary logo at midcourt and has several special events planned during the season long celebration. This includes a reunion of the 1977 team that won the franchise’s sole NBA Championship.

In addition to the Trail Blazers, the Moda Center also serves as the home of the Portland Riverhawks of the Western Hockey League. Other events that have been held in the building include first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Championships, the US Figure Skating Championships, three NBA Western Conference Finals and numerous music concerts.

As befits an arena in the environmentally conscious Pacific Northwest, the Moda Center was the first professional sports facility to receive Platinum LEED status for its sustainability practices. These practices include excess food being donated to homeless shelters and food waste being used as compost on the facility’s grounds, all trash being sorted for recycling, detergent-free cleaning of the building, the use of low flow toilets, the implementation of drought resistant landscaping, the use of energy efficient power equipment, the practice of sourcing of food from locally based farms using organically grown methods and encouraging the use of public transportation and hike/bike trails for fans to reach the arena.

The Trail Blazers are owned by the estate of former Microsoft executive Paul Allen, who died earlier in 2019. Allen played a huge role in sports in the Pacific Northwest, as he also owned the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) and the Seattle Sounders (MLS). He played a major role in the funding of the building of the Moda Center out of his personal fortune.

There are three Trail Blazer players (Clyde Drexler, Bill Walton and Arvydas Sabonis) and one coach (Jack Ramsay) in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Final Thoughts

Even though the Moda Center is one of the older arenas in the NBA, it offers one of the most entertaining venues to watch a game. The fact that basketball is the primary professional sport in town, added to the raucous atmosphere of the fans provides a great viewing experience. Add to that the many tourist opportunities in and around Portland, and the strong foodie and craft beer culture present in the area, and a visit to the Pacific Northwest will provide you with a very enjoyable time.

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