City releases first Spectator Venues Program annual report, highlighting 2019-2020 successes and challenges

News Article
The inaugural spectator venues report tells the story of how City’s premiere performing arts and sporting facilities fared last year amidst unprecedented challenges.

Cheering at a Portland Timbers game and listening to the Oregon Symphony at Arlene Schnitzer Hall are just some of the quintessential events that make Portland our home – but not all Portlanders realize that the City of Portland owns the facilities that make this magic happen.

The 2019 – 2020 Spectator Venues and Visitors Activities Program annual report provides information about the City’s recent investments, including adding three levels to Providence Park and expanding seat capacity from 21,144 to 25,218. The inaugural report also shows the reach of City venues. Despite its shortened season, Providence Park still served over 552,000 patrons and Portland’5 hosted nearly 650 events.

Interior of large building with wall of window panes and structural beams. Title reads: 2019 Annual Report City of Portland Spectator Venues and Visitor Activities Program

More than community gathering sites, these venues add to Portland’s unique culture and bolster the local economy. The Veterans Memorial Coliseum, for example, generates approximately $30 million each year and supports approximately 350 jobs. Together these facilities provide thousands of local jobs and also supply a client base to Portland’s hotels. They also contribute to a robust and internationally renowned travel and tourism industry.

What stands out in this year’s report, however, are the program challenges. City staff have long been aware that capital improvements will be needed at aging facilities – and prior to March 2020, those improvements were the program’s largest concern. Then the pandemic struck, facilities were shuttered and reality hit. Nearly 50 percent of the program’s revenue is generated from ticket sales; another 20 percent comes from parking fees. Unsurprisingly, projected revenues are down over 80 percent from the year prior – and the full scope of the economic impact won’t be realized until the conclusion of the 2020-2021 financial year.

Despite daunting challenges, the City remains committed to doing whatever it takes to open its venues once that is possible under public health guidance.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve worked closely with venue operators to ensure facilities would be ready to open as soon as it was safe to do so,” said Spectator Venues Program Manager Karl Lisle. “Reopening these facilities and offering events will unquestionably play a significant role in getting our sense of community back, and I think it’s safe to say we’re all looking forward to that.”

More information about the Spectator Venues Program.


Heather Hafer

Public Information Officer, Office of Management and Finance