The Portland Timbers hosted over 4,000 season ticket holders Tuesday evening at their annual Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Night at JELD-WEN Field.
Fans snapped photos around the stadium and with players in front of the victory log and on the capo stand. They were also offered free all-you-can-eat concessions and enjoyed face painting, balloon artists, a tour of the locker room and a question and answer session with head coach John Spencer in the KeyBank Club.
Timbers players were available for autographs around the stadium and on-field, surrounded by children showing off their own soccer skills.
"This is a huge thing for the organization to do and we're all so grateful,” said season ticket holder Chris Hardwicke. “To open the entire stadium up and allow the kids to be on the pitch and run around is fun to watch. Everyone is having a good time."
"Being on the field is great, especially seeing the look on the kids' faces when they meet the players down here,” agreed fan Matthew Moehling. “They got to meet their heroes--that's the best part for me."
The feeling is mutual for Timbers defender David Horst.
"It's a great opportunity to get to know our fans, and for our fans to get to know us. We see them up in the stands all the time, cheering their hearts out for us,” said Horst. “Events like this just build a better relationship with fans, and I think it does a lot for both sides. Fans cheer harder for us, and we can hear the passion during matches.”
Timbers Army season ticket holder Justin Gotharb thinks interaction with fans is important.
"I get to interact with the players. That's something I think the Timbers do well--interacting with their fans,” he said. “Even Merritt Paulson is out here on the field. To me, that shows that he cares not only about his organization, but us, the fans.”