Portland Trail Blazers May Offer Vaccinated-Only Section During Playoff Games

The promotional ad on the Ticketmaster site shows the Blazers are considering options to fill the arena further.

The Lakers have one. CJ McCollum wants one. The Trail Blazers are planning for one.

No, not a championship. A seating section in the arena reserved for vaccinated fans.

A promotional ad that ran on the Ticketmaster website shows that the Blazers appear to be preparing a vaccinated section during playoffs.

The ad states there will be tickets for “Home Game A Vaccinated Sections” at a time and place TBD. “Home Game A” refers to the Blazers’ May 27 playoff game against the Denver Nuggets.

Blazers playoff tickets have yet to go on sale. And the Rose Quarter’s official website refers only to the existing capacity plan: to seat 10% of the usual crowds.

But Multnomah County is expected to move to a low COVID-19 risk level by Friday, based on the county vaccination rate of more than 65%. That would allow the Blazers to seat 50% of Moda Center’s usual capacity.

While the idea has not been officially sanctioned by the Oregon Health Authority, that hasn’t stopped a Blazers star from floating the idea himself earlier in the week.

McCollum made the suggestion minutes after ESPN announcers noted that the Los Angeles Lakers were hosting a game with a section reserved for vaccinated fans.

(McCollum’s teammate, Damian Lillard, tweeted his push to allow fans back in the arena last month, and a few hours later the governor announced approval for venues to reopen. No such immediate confirmation followed McCollum’s tweets.)

Officials with the Trail Blazers did not respond to emails seeking comment. Charles Boyle, a spokesman for Gov. Kate Brown, declined to confirm any details of the Blazers’ plan, but said discussions are ongoing.

“Gov. Brown joins all Oregonians in their excitement to see the Trail Blazers prepared for a strong run at a championship this year, while also ensuring players, coaches, fans, and staff are safe,” Boyle says. “To that end, our office has had productive conversations with their front office, in anticipation of Multnomah County preparing to enter the lower risk level. I expect to have additional details for you in the next week.”

A vaccinated fans section would fit into a larger tactic Brown is employing to encourage vaccination: perks.

Brown announced plans Friday to offer a massive “carrot” in the state’s vaccination effort—a $1 million lottery prize for one lucky winner who has been vaccinated—but her “stick” of allowing vaccinated people to remove masks while shopping or clubbing has largely fizzled. No high-profile retail shops or venues have opted to enforce Brown’s policy of requiring proof of vaccines before patrons can shed the mask. (Instead, most Portland attractions and retailers are sticking to a universal mask requirement rather than checking vaccination cards.)