Portland’s premier outdoor sporting venue has gone by many names.
But before it was Providence Park, Jeld-Wen Field, Portland General Electric (PGE) Park, or even Civic Stadium, the crown jewel of the Goose Hollow neighborhood was a modest, amateur athletic facility known as Multnomah Field. Over the course of its 130-year history, it’s hosted everything from dog races to presidential visits.
Nothing beats front row seats to history.
In the spring of 1893, the Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club (MAAC), an offshoot of local football and cricket clubs, constructed a grandstand at Multnomah Field in Tanner Creek Gulch. By 1900, the club’s growing membership (~1,500 people) necessitated an even larger facility, so a clubhouse was built just east of the field.
President William Howard Taft gave a speech on the field in 1909, and one year later, a catastrophic fire razed several blocks, including the MAAC structures. They were rebuilt in 1911, and former President Teddy Roosevelt set the cornerstone for a new clubhouse.
It wasn’t until 1926 that Multnomah Stadium was built on the site for $500,000 — that’s $8,267,090 today. Architects Morris Whitehouse and A.E. Doyle designed a 35,000-seat half-horseshoe complex; its upper seating bowl and wooden benches are still in use today.
A ski jump was installed in 1953 to build excitement for upcoming winter games at Mount Hood. | Photo via Portland City Archives
Minor league baseball was a fixture at the park from 1956 until 2010. | Photo via Portland City Archives
Let the games begin
The 1930 University of Oregon-University of Washington football game hosted there drew a crowd of 35,266, at that point the largest ever to witness a football game in the Pacific Northwest. By 1933, pari-mutuel betting was legalized, opening the door for the Multnomah Kennel Club to operate dog races. When the track was removed in 1956, the Portland Beavers, a minor league baseball team, moved over from Vaughn Street Park. In 1966, the stadium was sold to the city of Portland, which installed the nation’s first outdoor multi-purpose artificial turf in 1969.
Other memorable chapters include a 150-ft ski jump, hosting the first NFL game to go to overtime, a concert by Elvis Presley, Brazilian legend Pelé's final professional soccer game, and the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinals.
After being an on-and-off home for the Timbers since the team’s inception in 1975, it became the franchise’s permanent ground with its induction into MLS in 2011, also welcoming the Thorns in 2013.