Providence Park is an iconic sports and entertainment facility located in the heart of downtown Portland, Ore. Originally constructed for $500,000 in 1926, Providence Park is a historic civic gathering place with over 85 years of history, having played host to a variety of sporting events, political gatherings, popular concerts and some of the region’s most memorable events.
Among the thousands of events held on the grounds, which date back before the construction of the stadium to the original Multnomah Field, are presidential visits, an event for President William H. Taft in 1909, the National Football League's first overtime game in 1955, a concert by "The King" Elvis Presley in 1957, decades of professional baseball, dog racing, college football, the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2009 Cricket Wireless Triple-A All-Star Game and the final professional game for soccer legend Pele in the North American Soccer League’s Soccer Bowl ‘77. It has also been the home for the previous incarnations of Portland Timbers soccer club since 1975. Over its history, Providence Park has played host to a number of different sporting events, including cricket, ski jumping and dog racing.
First built and utilized by the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC), the grounds and stadium have undergone multiple transformations and upgrades over the years from its initial athletic field and small grandstand first build in 1893. In 1926, the facility was expanded into a full-scale stadium, which provided the foundation for the Providence Park that exists today. Before the MAC developed the site as an athletic field, it was a large Chinese vegetable garden, supplying produce to much of Portland.
While the name and events have changed at the venue over the years, Providence Park maintains its historical charm, featuring certain pieces and characteristics of the stadium, which have been in place since its beginning; the upper seating bowl and wood benches still remain from the original construction of the facility over 85 years ago.
The home of Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, the new-look Providence Park was opened to the public on April 14, 2011, after a significant, $40 million renovation crafted to create one of the most unique and authentic soccer environments in the country as the Timbers marked their debut MLS season.
Ready for a new, exciting chapter to be written on its illustrious timeline, Providence Park plays host to a wide variety of events each year, including Portland Timbers soccer, Portland Thorns FC soccer, Portland State University football, college and high school football and soccer, concerts, community events and public and private functions.
Information provided by the Oregon Historical Society and Portland Timbers.
PROVIDENCE PARK THROUGH THE YEARS
The two-year-old Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC) leased a plot of pasture land in an area known as Tanner Creek Gulch and called it Multnomah Field. From the start, it was home to all popular outdoor athletic events of the day.
Multnomah Field hosted an event and speech for the 27th President of the United States William H. Taft, with 20,000 school children in attendance.
Known as Multnomah Stadium at the time, the venue was formally dedicated on Oct. 9, 1926, as the University of Washington’s football team beat the University of Oregon, 23-9. More than 24,000 fans were in attendance.
The Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants played the first overtime game in NFL history, with the Rams prevailing 23-17 in the exhibition contest.
Elvismania hit Portland, as Elvis Presley played for 14,000 screaming fans. Arriving to Multnomah Civic Stadium in a white convertible Cadillac, The King put on a 40-minute show that left the fanatical crowd in hysteria.
The MAC sold the stadium to the City of Portland for $2.1 million.
Pele’s New York Cosmos defeated the Seattle Sounders, 2-1, in North American Soccer League’s Soccer Bowl ‘77 in front of a then-record 35,548 fans.
Legendary Portland State quarterback Neil Lomax threw for seven first-quarter touchdowns in a 105-0 win over Delaware State.
The stadium underwent a significant renovation, including the addition of a laminated, wood-beamed roof, rare in today’s construction world because of the inflated cost of timber.
The United States Football League’s (USFL) Portland Breakers played one season at Civic Stadium.
Outfielder Rodney McCray crashed through the “Flav-R-Pac” outfield sign of Civic Stadium while chasing a fly ball in a game between the Portland Beavers and Vancouver Canadians, earning him blooper immortality.
The stadium underwent its largest renovation as more than 750 tons of steel were added to the facility as part of substantial seismic upgrades to the park to bring minor league soccer and Triple-A baseball back to Portland.
One of six host venues across the United States to house matches for the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In addition to group-stage matches between Ghana and Australia and China and Russia, PGE Park was the site of Germany’s dominating quarterfinal match, the World Cup’s semifinal round and the third-place match between the United States and Canada.
Before a national TV audience on ESPN2, the city of Portland and PGE Park played host to the Cricket Wireless Triple-A All-Star Game. The summer showcase featured the top players of the Pacific Coast League against the International League.
Foundation work began on converting the stadium into a soccer-specific facility in preparation for the Portland Timbers’ first season in Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2011.
Before a sold-out crowd of 18,627, the Portland Timbers defeated the Chicago Fire in their MLS debut at JELD-WEN Field. Two goals from forward Jorge Perlaza guided the Timbers to a 4-2 win over the Fire.