SBJ/20090316/This Week's News

Portland council OKs $114 million to bring in MLS

The Portland City Council passed a $114 million proposal last week to lure Major League Soccer to town.

Commissioners agreed to remove $15 million in urban renewal funding from the deal, which was originally valued at $129 million. It’s unclear how the city will fund the $15 million shortfall should MLS give Portland one of two expansion teams that it will award this week. Portland is considered a front-runner for one of the teams.

More than 40 commissioners testified on the deal, including Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. Paulson has agreed to pay $40 million to buy an MLS franchise if Portland gets one.

He reached a deal with city officials that would include more than $60 million in loans to renovate PGE Park to make it a soccer specific stadium. The money would also be used to build a new home for the Portland Beavers minor league baseball team, which Paulson also owns.

Paulson has agreed to spend $12.5 million of his family’s money on stadium construction. He’s also agreed to protect the city from cost overruns.

Paulson’s father is former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

— Portland Business Journal

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