Timbers Army comes to the rescue

Fans gather ideas for increasing team's visibility as uncertainties loom

This was the Timbers Army on its best behavior.

Fans of the Portland Timbers soccer team met Saturday at the Horse Brass Pub to discuss the club's future. General Manager Jim Taylor told 17 of the green and white faithful that while he is confident the Timbers will play this season, he has no way of knowing who will own the team.

Eight players are under contract and expected back in April for training camp. But Taylor admits that uncertainty over PGE Park and who will own the Portland Beavers baseball club has made things especially quiet, with the soccer operation being run 'on a shoestring.'

'It's a very, very complicated sports deal in terms of how it works with the city, the lenders, the limited partners and the leagues. It's not just one team bidding to rent the facility,' Taylor says, noting that the sponsorships and ticket revenue of the two clubs are tied together.

'We're genuinely concerned that the Timbers might not play this season,' says Jeremy Wright, 30, who works in community relations for TriMet and is among the Timbers Army die-hards who chant constantly behind the goal. 'We are a very wild and vocal group. Now we need to get a bit more vocal with the media and the community.'

Timber fans who feel the Beavers are dominating the discussions floated ideas on how to make their team's needs known more to City Hall and other Portlanders.

Allison Andrews, who runs the Web site soccercityusa.com, suggests recapturing the glory days of the 1970s with a retro jersey and a return to the old logo.

Jim Serrill, 50, who retired last season as the club's lumberjack cheerleader 'Timber Jim,' says soccer fans should reach out to disenchanted Blazers fans.

'If they'd let me in to a Blazer game, I'd show them how to celebrate,' says Serrill, who as Timber Jim cut off a slice of log with a chain saw for every Portland goal.

Other suggestions included scrimmages with fans, more advertising, cutting down on the Timbers Army's predilection for 'potty mouth' songs, and better halftime entertainment. Plans for a public march, however, were shelved.