Prior to Thorns FC's 6-0 win over the Orlando Pride on June 19, Timbers and Thorns president of business Mike Golub joined Thorns general manager Karina LeBlanc for a pregame Q&A with 50 Annual Members. Below are some of the key questions and responses from the event. The questions and responses below have been edited for clarity and some have been combined from multiple related questions or responses.
What is the club doing regarding the increasing costs attached to ticketing, parking and public transportation when attending matches?Mike Golub: "We’re really sensitive to the time that you all are committing to come downtown to Thorns games, as well as the expenditures that you're all making to support the club. We are proud of our ticket prices, which are actually some of the lowest in the NWSL. Our General Admission is still only $150 for the whole season. So, we've really worked to keep tickets affordable, from the start. We're cognizant of the parking costs around the stadium being expensive so we are looking into other ways we can work with TriMet to provide some added value or savings for those who choose to take it, perhaps for next season. With a downtown stadium, we certainly want public transportation to be something people utilize."
What can fans do to better support the Thorns?
Karina LeBlanc: "Keep showing up! We've recently met with the Riveters, and we're trying to make sure everyone gets on board and brings back what makes Portland uniquely Portland. It’s what you all do that makes this place so special. With all the work that goes on behind the scenes, you bring it to life on game day. I would also to say, to each and every one of us, that we should talk about the team, talk about what they're doing and talk about the human beings that are here. We should talk about the electricity we feel when we come to a game. I think that's one of the things you see in the fans, that they love being here. Go out and tell those stories to help get more people to understand that this is our team living out their dreams, and our fans are a part of those dreams."
What is the plan to remove the vaccinations requirements at Providence Park?
MG: "We've tried to be thoughtful and vigilant over the last few seasons on how we bring fans back, and how we operate the stadium. Part of that has been staying in close touch with our fans, to really try to understand where the majority of people's views and feelings are, relative to COVID and the necessary precautions. And obviously, it's not a monolith. We'll be continuing the vaccination check through this season, for sure. The hope is to then reassess and hope that we’re in a place at the beginning of next season where we can, like most businesses are doing now, drop it. Our service and research groups are monitoring this with fans after every game, and we have continued to see that over 85% of our fans are continuing to support this current policy."
What resources and tools are readily available for both the players and staff of the Thorns? If certain situations were to happen again, what's the process for protecting players, while also allowing and giving them a voice to advocate on their own or for a teammate?
KL: "Good question. First of all, the CBA was a big deal to put many of these things in place. The players and staff now have an anonymous reporting system online. We've added more resources where they can speak to somebody, if they would like to, specifically when it comes to any mental health support. We have also added internal structures so that the players are now having a seat at the table to speak and share with us what they need and want. For every single coach that we hire, as well as anyone associated with the players, there are background checks. Across the board, we are hearing that the players, staff and employees are all are feeling more seen and heard."