SBD/Issue 145/Facilities & Venues

Portland Urged To Slow Construction For New Sports Facilities

No Deadlines Set To Turn PGE Park
Into Soccer-Specific Stadium
A hearing yesterday to set timelines to turn PGE Park into a soccer-specific stadium for an MLS expansion team and to build a new ballpark for the Triple-A PCL Portland Beavers "quickly became a referendum on the race to redevelop the Rose Quarter and demolish" the Memorial Coliseum, according to Mark Larabee of the Portland OREGONIAN. About "three dozen people testified, and most favored sparing" the Coliseum, as they "urged the council to slow down." Developer Doug Obletz: "Portland is a city that prides itself on excellent urban planning, sustainability and finding a way to put the unique Portland stamp on our city. To date, the process and planning for a minor league ballpark in the Rose Quarter are missing all three of these elements." Larabee writes "driving the fast track is the need to move" the Beavers out of PGE Park by '11, when the USL Portland Timbers are scheduled to begin playing in MLS. The Portland City Council has partnered with Beavers and Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson "agreeing last month by a 3-2 vote to use city-backed bonds to finance most of the $88.8[M] construction costs." However, to make the ballpark proposal work, the city "will have to max out its credit card for debt in the Oregon Convention Center urban renewal district." That would leave "no urban renewal money for the Blazers entertainment district" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/16).

SMELL THE ROSES: In a special to the OREGONIAN, Paulson wrote, "Taken together, MLS at PGE Park and Beavers baseball at the Rose Quarter will create 600 short-term jobs, more than 300 long-term jobs and generate roughly $50[M] in annual economic activity in the community. Retiring Memorial Coliseum and using the site for the new stadium makes the most sense because it would take advantage of the existing Rose Quarter parking garages, eliminating the need to build costly new ones. It would replace an aging venue expected to lose $500,000 annually in the coming years with one that can make money for taxpayers. ... This plan is about far more than sports. It creates jobs, protects taxpayers from risk, revitalizes our city and builds community. I urge city leaders to support the plan" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/15).

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