Earlier this week a rankings list of all 30 NBA arenas came out.
Drum roll, please………..
The Moda Center ranked #1 in the entire league!
Construction finished in 1995 on what was then known as the Rose Garden and it has been the home of the Portland Trail Blazers ever since. In 2013, the naming rights were sold to Moda Health, and since then it has been known as the Moda Center.
The building is great and the basketball has been even better. In the past 10 years, the Blazers have a record of 276-126 on their home floor (.687 winning percentage), while they have a record of 168-234 on the road (.418 winning percentage). This success can be somewhat attributed to being at home, the team sleeping in their own beds, and just a more friendly atmosphere. But some of the success has to be attributed to the amazing fan base and atmosphere at the Moda Center. It is a true home court advantage.
Come to a game in Portland and you are likely to see the home team win, while having a good time. This team has had a winning record in the Moda Center each of the past 10 seasons. Put that home winning percentage into perspective, a .687 winning percentage would have been the 3rd best record in all of the NBA this season, behind only the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs.
What makes the Moda Center so special?
As someone that attended twenty-one games this season, I narrowed it down to three things that set apart the arena.
- In-Game Atmosphere
This section is all about two people, Todd Bosma and Mark Mason.
Bosma is the Director of Game Operations for the Portland Trail Blazers. He is the guy with the microphone when the game goes to timeout and there are contests and events to keep the crowd engaged. Most arenas have someone like Bosma, but none are quite as effective.
After being with the franchise for the past 18 years, Bosma knows how the arena and fan base react to different situations, he truly has his finger on the pulse… because in a lot of ways, he controls the pulse.
The game experience during these stoppages of play are as seamless as can be. Bosma does a masterful job of planning for any scenario, and keeping the fan base engaged for their entire time in the arena.
Mason is also a long-time employee of the Blazers as the Public Address Announcer. This past season was his 21st season with the team.
When I think about Mason, there are two things that set him apart.
Although his emotions follow the flow of the game, and he enthusiastically proclaims when a big play happens, he is not the annoying hype-man that most teams employ as their P.A. announcers. Mason stays in his own lane and lets the game come to him, more than trying to control and manipulate the mood of the game through prewritten sayings, slogans, and chants that so many other P.A. announcers use throughout a game.
The other thing is how personal it feels when Mason has the microphone. When Nicolas Batum was with the team, each night when the starting lineup was introduced, Mason would introduce Batum in French. The same has held true for Jusuf Nurkic, who Mason introduces in Bosnian. Those little touches go a long way to make the experience for the fans in the arena more memorable.
- The Food
Portland loves a wide variety of cuisines. That is evident in the growing fascination of food carts around the city. The arena mimics a lot of the cities taste in foods.
If you go to this arena thinking that you are only going to have the choice between hot dogs and pretzels, you are going to be terribly wrong.
The Moda Center offices a wide variety of foods and caters to really anyone’s tastes.
There are local favorites such as Bunk Sandwiches, Killer Burger and Sizzle Pie (Pizza).
Then there are some of the house brands of Levy Restaurants such as Corona Cove (Noodles), Fowl Language (Chicken), and Hook Line (Fish and Chips).
The selection is remarkable, and I only named a portion of the options.
I would contend that there is no place in Portland with a better concentration of food selections. The Moda Center’s food options beat that of any mall food court in the area, by far. Food cart pods are a great choice, but lack a lot of the local favorites that the Moda Center offers.
Don’t worry, if you want a hot dog or pretzel you can still get them at Red Hot and Rollin’.
- The Fans
While it seems cliché, the fans are really what make the Moda Center special.
The Stadium Journey review of the Moda Center laid it out fairly well with the following quote.
“I can’t imagine any other fans being more passionate or knowledgeable than Blazer fans. They have a reputation around the league for being such. The concourse, during play, is a ghost town. Everyone is in the arena cheering on the Blazers. Attention to the on the court action is second to none. You don’t see the typical “I’m just here with friends because they had an extra ticket” type of attendee. True, hardcore fans, who live and die with the team, are the norm. They are attentive, loud, and respectful – but they don’t mind letting you know exactly how they feel.”
I’ve been going to games in the Moda Center/Rose Garden since the team has been playing there. I went to games at the Memorial Coliseum but was still too young to remember them. These fans are unbelievable. I realize my biases here and try to take those into account, but I still can’t find another fan base that is as rabid and passionate about their basketball team.
The fans in the 300-level start all the chants, the fans behind the hoops are raucous while the other team is shooting free throws, and there really is never a shortage of excitement surrounding the home team.
This fan base has been in the top ten in attendance every year for the past 10 years.
A lot of fan bases lose hope and interest in a losing team, but these Blazer fans have been put through the ringer and continue to show up for each and every game. The past four seasons have been a real treat for the fans, going to the playoffs each year.
This is a fan base that is hungry for another NBA Championship to come to town, and each night there is a game in the Moda Center, the crowd does their best to will their team there.