The atmosphere at Providence Park for Portland Timbers and Thorns FC matches can be described as electric, raucous, and passionate. From the scarves waving during the national anthem, to the Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters' faithful chanting through the final whistle – it’s truly something special.
This is what makes soccer matches in the Rose City one of the most unique sports experiences in North America. However, this atmosphere can be overwhelming for some guests.
This is why Stand Together, the Timbers and Thorns community platform, partnered with KultureCity to make Providence Park more inclusive and accessible to people with sensory sensitivities that can hinder their ability to enjoy loud, live events and activities.
Starting in 2019, sensory bags containing fidget tools, noise canceling headphones, and verbal cue cards, as well as weighted lap pads, have been available for checkout by fans at the Guest Service Center on matchdays. This has eliminated barriers that could have previously kept some fans from enjoying the full experience.
“I think there’s a percentage of the fan population that include a family member with a disability who might avoid games because of sensory overstimulation,” said Celia Murphey, a Para educator and parent to Special Olympics Oregon accomplished athlete, Molly. “A program like this helps families who experience disability feel included and enables access to community that isn't always available at live sporting events. The goodwill this effort builds is immeasurable."
Raising awareness of this program – and the needs of individuals with sensory differences – has furthered Stand Together’s commitment to every member of the Portland community.
“The fact that the Timbers and Thorns are providing these resources shows the community that they really value diversity,” Murphey said. “Everyone should be able to support their hometown team."
These sensory resources can be found at the Guest Service Center, located on the main concourse near section 104 at Entry D. To learn more about sensory inclusion at Providence Park, and to find other sensory inclusive locations, guests are encouraged to download the free KultureCity app.