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What It’s Like to See A Pilots or a Vikings Game

Thursday, November 06, 2014


University of Portland Pilots warming up at Chiles Center, via Wikimedia Commons

With neither Oregon or Oregon State managing to get one vote in the preseason AP top 25 basketball poll, what better time for college basketball fans in Portland to “go local” and check out a game this season at the University of Portland and Portland State University.

Both the Pilots and Vikings begin their seasons this weekend, with the University of Portland hosting Concordia-Irvine and PSU hosting Linfield.

Sadly, the home nonconference schedules for both the Pilots and Vikings get no more ambitious after this weekend’s lackluster exhibitions (both schools play, for example, that SIU-Edwardsville juggernaut later this month). The Pilots at least do host one Pac-12 opponent -- woeful Oregon State on Dec. 6, three days after their most interesting home nonconference game-- PSU on Dec. 3.

But fear not: both the Pilots’ Chiles Center and the Vikings’ Stott Center can be fun places to see Division I basketball without having to hightail it to Corvallis or Eugene. For the uninitiated who have never attended a Pilots or Vikings game, here’s a guide to differentiate two very different basketball experiences:

SCHEDULE: While both schools have equally uninspiring nonconference home schedules before conference games begin in January, the Pilots play in the tougher West Coast Conference with big-name opponents like Gonzaga (buy tickets early for that one because Gonzaga fans travel), St. Mary’s and Brigham Young University. Portland State plays little-known directional schools like Northern Colorado, Southern Utah and Eastern Washington.

Advantage: Pilots

ATMOSPHERE: Playing to a fuller building in the Stott Center (1,500 seats) makes Vikings games more raucous than Pilots games in the larger Chiles Center (4,852 seats). Unless the Pilots are playing a Gonzaga or BYU, the arena is usually only half-filled and can feel staid.

Advantage: Vikings

AFFORDABILITY: Reserved seats for PSU games are $25, with general admission priced at $18 for adults and $8 for kids. Reserved seats for most UP games (other than higher-priced tickets for OSU, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s and BYU) are $22 for lower-level reserved, $15 for upper-level reserved. General admission for Pilots games are $10 for adults, $5 for kids.

One noteworthy bonus if you buy Vikings season tickets? All you can eat.

Advantage: Despite the gluttony option for PSU season-ticket holders, the edge goes to the Pilots

CONVENIENCE: Unless you happen to live near the UP campus in North Portland, the only realistic way to get there is by car. PSU, of course, is on the Park Blocks downtown and easily accessible by mass transit. And finding a parking spot at night is not usually a major hassle.

Advantage: Vikings

THAT “GO LOCAL” FEELING: UP has three players with local ties – junior guard-forward Max Livingston from Lake Oswego High, freshman forward Gabe Taylor from Valley Catholic and senior guard David Carr from Central Catholic. PSU has five players with local backgrounds—sophomore guard Zach Gengler from Silverton, junior forward Collin Spickerman from Jesuit, sophomore guard Bryce White from Benson Tech, sophomore forward Montie Leunen from Westview High and senior center  Brandon Cataldo from Rainier High.

Advantage: Vikings

The bottom line for both the Vikings and the Pilots is that both are family-friendly options for Division I basketball that don’t require driving either to Gill Coliseum in Corvallis or Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. 

And in this season when little is expected of the Ducks or Beavers, save the gas and support college basketball in Portland.

A native Oregonian, Hank Stern had a 24-year career in journalism, working for more than a decade as a reporter with The Associated Press in Oregon, New Jersey and Washington, DC. He worked seven years for The Oregonian as a reporter in east Multnomah County, Washington County and Portland’s City Hall. In 2005, he became Willamette Week’s managing news editor and worked there until 2011.


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