Low student engagement with RipCity presence on campus

RipCity Remix’s first season at Chiles has concluded, but students are not as interested in the team as anticipated.

By Molly Bancroft | April 24, 2024 10:00am
Rip City Remix branded chairs lining the basketball court in Chiles during the Fan Fest event.
Media Credit: Ryan Reynolds / The Beacon

RipCity Remix, the Portland NBA G League team, officially ended their first season at the Chiles Center on March 30. Since their arrival to campus last fall, RipCity has made significant efforts to make its mark on The Bluff. From Thrift Night to Pickleball Night, RipCity has worked to create several events that appeal to the UP community, and provide students with opportunities to get involved. 

According to Director of Ticketing for RipCity Jon Jensen, student engagement is a foundational aspect of RipCity’s business model.

“I would say that we have four core fan bases, students being one of them,” Jensen said. “Young families being another one, Portland Trailblazer fans and North Portland residents.”

However, this does not mean that students are as receptive to RipCity’s presence in Chiles Center as hoped. 

According to Jensen, RipCity averaged under 50 students per game across the 23 home games at Chiles. The Thrift Night brought in 168 students. 

The Rip City Remix G League Team scrimmages at the Fan Fest event in Chiles.

by Ryan Reynolds / The Beacon

First-year Rowan Lowery was not aware of RipCity’s usage of the Chiles Center until he came face to face with it. According to Lowery, he was looking for parking behind Christie Hall one night and the parking lot was nearly full of cars, contrary to how it normally is at that time. 

“I was just like, ‘What is going on?’” Lowery said. “And then I saw the signs around and that was definitely the first time I noticed what it was. I was just kind of confused as to what it was.”

Lowery admits he hasn’t attended any of RipCity’s games but would be interested in doing so. 

“Definitely, things [events like Thrift Night] like that interest me,” Lowery said. “I would have gone to that Thrift Night, but I had a different job that night.”

RipCity’s presence in Chiles also limits student-athletes’ access to facilities in Chiles like their locker rooms.

“Due to NBA security protocols, we shut the facility down a few hours prior to tipoff,” Seabeck said. “And then our athletes and everybody has to vacate out. We looked ahead, obviously, and found alternative training locations or venues for them to use on those nights, which is very minimal luckily.”

However, Assistant Athletic Director Daniel Seabeck explains that UP makes a sustained effort to prioritize their teams. 

“Obviously, our UP teams took precedence and were first choice for facility use,” Seabeck said. “So we were able to block out dates and say, ‘Nope, that’s not available. These dates are, though.’”

A Rip City Remix mural inside Chiles.
by Ryan Reynolds / The Beacon

RipCity remains optimistic about its presence in Chiles. Jensen continues to make a deliberate effort to encourage more students to attend games and be more involved with RipCity. From directing its marketing towards students to providing student discounts at games and offering student-employment positions, RipCity remains dedicated to engaging with students. 

“We worked really closely with the University of Portland to make sure those positions went out, and I think every department had at least one University of Portland student,” Jensen said.

Jensen shared that while RipCity currently does not have a way to receive student feedback on events and RipCity in general, he feels their team has already been welcomed to the UP community at large with open arms.

“Everybody on campus has been super supportive of us being here.” Jensen said. “We definitely feel like it’s our home.”

Molly Bancroft is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at bancroft26@up.edu.