PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's office has denied the National Women's Soccer League Challenge Cup Championship Commissioner's request for an exception to allow a limited number of fans into the Challenge Cup final next Saturday between the Portland Thorns and Gotham FC.
In a letter to Commissioner Lisa Baird obtained by FOX 12, Brown said:
"Unfortunately, granting your request to allow fans in the stands would pose too great a public health risk, when COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging in Oregon. Oregon is in the middle of our fourth surge of COVID-19. In the last two weeks, Oregon's case rate has increased faster than in any other state in the nation. In the last year, we have learned what follows when cases increase: hospitalizations and deaths. Modeling from Oregon Health & Science University indicates that the difficult decisions we make by acting now will save hundreds of lives and prevent hundreds of people from being hospitalized.
Governor Brown understands how much Oregonians enjoy attending live sporting events, but, for right now, that doesn't outweigh the very real risk of resulting hospitalizations and possibly even deaths with our current levels of COVID-19 spread.
Oregonians have made smart choices and incredible sacrifices throughout this crisis. We are holding the line for a few more weeks, as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. We are hopeful that Multnomah County will reenter the High-Risk level to allow for spectators at outdoor professional sporting events again."
FOX 12 spoke to the President of Business for the Thorns and Timbers Mike Golub who has submitted a counter-proposal in hopes to reach an agreement with the state. Golub asked bring this weekend's Thorns and Timbers matches to 15 percent but not sell concession to ensure that fans stay in their seats with their masks on.
"Right now, if you're a small restaurant, you can have 100 people in extreme risk sitting outside. That same number is what we're allowed at the 500,000 square foot outdoor stadium of Providence Park," Golub said. "We don't think that quite makes sense, so we'd love to sit down with the state and figure this out in a way that they feel comfortable it's being operated safely, which we're confident we can do and where it achieves some of our objectives and some of our fans objectives."
Following the request, the governor's office told FOX 12 its stance didn't change.
"Our previous statement is still current. At this time, with our current numbers for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the Extreme Risk health and safety restrictions will remain in effect."