PORTLAND, Ore. — Lisa Baird, the National Women’s Soccer League commissioner, has written Gov. Kate Brown asking for an exemption for the Portland Thorns to accommodate more fans during the Challenge Cup Title Game despite the stadium being in an “extreme risk” category.
The game is scheduled for May 8 in Providence Park.
Anne Peterson, sports writer for the Associated Press, tweeted that Baird’s letter said, in part, "Our medical protocols are sound, and all appropriate precautions are taken every time our players take the pitch for training and competition. We’re confident the Thorns can safely accommodate fans and are hopeful you’ll consider our request."
Multnomah County was one of 15 counties to move into the extreme risk category on April 28.
The move to extreme risk bans indoor dining at restaurants and significantly reduces the number of people who can be inside a gym or indoor entertainment space. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that outdoor capacity limits for bars, restaurants, and other sectors will be raised from 50 to 100 people in extreme risk counties, as long as health and safety measures, including physical distancing, are in place.
Baird is asking for the Thorns arena at Providence Park to hold 15% of its capacity, which is 3,800 people, for the Challenge Cup, according to Peterson.
The Thorns will play NJ/NY Gotham FC in the game, dubbed the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup Championship.
“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” Brown said in a statement released Tuesday. “Today’s announcement will save lives and help stop COVID-19 hospitalizations from spiking even higher. With new COVID-19 variants widespread in so many of our communities, it will take all of us working together to bring this back under control.”
Gov. Brown has not publicly responded.
This story will be updated.