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Moda Center welcomes Blazers fans for first time in over a year – OPB News


Moda Center welcomes Blazers fans for first time in over a year - OPB

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Fans rush from the Moda Center after the Portland Trail Blazers' 110-93 win over the Miami Heat on April 2, 2016.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB

For over a year, the stands at the Moda Center have been empty. Tonight, fans are invited back into the Moda Center to cheer on the Portland Trail Blazers.

The last time fans were allowed to watch the Trail Blazers in person at their home court was at their March 10, 2020 game against the Phoenix Suns. No one knew it would be the last time fans would be allowed in the arena for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 20,000 people attended, including Matt Arbaugh.

I dont miss a lot of things about pre-times, Ive gotten pretty adapted, Arbaugh said. But live sports, in particular, is something I miss a lot.

Arbaugh and his family are attending the Blazers game on Friday. Its the first game at the Moda Center in over 400 days. The game against the rival Los Angeles Lakers is only allowing 10% capacity or around 1,900 people. Arbaugh says attending this game is an exception to his normally cautious behavior since the pandemic hit.

Id be lying if I said there wasnt some nervousness, He said.

After going over the safety precautions that the Moda Center has in place, and with him and his family vaccinated, he feels safe. Arbaugh has been a Blazers fan since he was a kid, in fact, he has a tattoo of Blazers point guard Damian Lillard on his shoulder.

No matter where Ive lived Ive been a fan, Arbaugh said. Im loyal to my core.

It was Lillard who tweeted on Tuesday that Blazers were going to be the only team in the NBA without fans. Not long after, the announcement came that Fridays game would allow fans. Trailblazers CEO and president Chris McGowan says the timing wasnt a coincidence.

I think it brought a lot of attention to it, it helped, McGowan said. The wheels were turning and the ball was in motion in terms of getting the approval, but I think that created a lot of conversation that accelerated it a little bit.

McGowan says safety is at the forefront of Fridays game. In addition to reduced capacity, no more than six people can sit together, there will be rows of empty seats between parties and everyone must wear a mask.

We want to get these protocols in place and get really good at it because we anticipate that as the situation improves well be able to ramp up capacity and have even more than 10% in the arena at some point, McGowan said.

As to when that could happen, its up to the Oregon Health Authority.

Still, McGowan says the Moda Center has already been looking to the future of other events at the venue.

The message to the concert touring business is that Portland is now open, McGowan said.

For right now, McGowan is hoping the fans will benefit the players. Traditionally, they have benefitted from a home-court advantage, but this season their home record is worse than their record on the road.

Were hopeful that the situation improves in time for the playoffs, McGowan said. Home court advantage is super important and the more of our awesome fans we can get in the door, the better.

Arbaugh says he will certainly be elated when he and his family step inside the Moda Center to watch the Trail Blazers, especially after over a year away.

The Moda Center is my happy place. I love being there, and I love going with my family, Arbaugh said. Its just exciting because its live, its happening. This is going to be that times one thousand.

The Trail Blazers tip-off against the Lakers is at 7:00 pm.

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Portland Trail Blazers fans will be able to see their team play in-person at the Moda Center on Friday for the first time since March of last year. Well talk about it with Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan.

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Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden recently wrote a letter urging the Biden administration to push Turkey on its human rights record. Wyden has been vocal in his criticism of the Turkish government for several years. In that time, he has also become close to Enes Kanter, the Turkish-born star of the Portland Trail Blazers.

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