A whole new ballgame?
The debate over whether Portland should have major league baseball is heating up again, with news that the owners of the Florida Marlins team (halfway decent, National League East) are saying that they would like a new home.
When last we left this saga, the State of Oregon had enacted a financing package whereby the state would put up around $115 million, paid for out of income taxes on the players' salaries, toward a new public stadium in Portland. About another $235 million would be needed, and the city and local baseball fans have roughed out a financing plan that would come up with the rest out of a 10 percent ticket tax, special licensing fees on businesses within the stadium district, a tax on stadium concessions, a reallocation of the some of the local hotel tax, rent paid by the team on the stadium, and some assorted additional odds and ends.
The state part is a done deal, having been adopted by the Legislature in 2003. The city part is so far just a brochure with some smart, energetic, and influential supporters. City Commissioner Randy Leonard's loosely on board with the baseball types, although he's still holding out to put the stadium out along I-205, which seems unlikely. Mayor Tom Potter has sent out some decidedly negative signals on the whole idea, and the other three commissioners are anybody's guess, with two of them up for re-election and the third trying to distance himself from his former boss, ex-Mayor Vera Katz, who was enchanted with the major league baseball idea.
Everybody's got an opinion on this, of course. I personally think it would be a great addition to the city, well worth the public investment.
Certainly a better investment than a convention center hotel that will be mostly empty, most of the time.
Certainly a better investment than a traffic-worsening light rail line running from Union Station to PSU, a route which already has the most extensive bus connections imaginable.
Certainly a better investment than a streetcar down lower MLK Boulevard.
Certainly better than a re-do of a transit mall that would get along fine with some new bricks and some spit polish on the existing bus kiosks.
Certainly better than a condo-and-chi-chi-public-market complex that will wreck the Saturday Market.
Certainly better than spending tens of millions to turn West Burnside into a one-way street.
Certainly better than spending $1 million or more a year to pay for TV ads for politicians' campaigns.
Certainly better than paying $3.3 million an acre for contaminated industrial land, so that it can be a park for million-dollar-condo dwellers in the SoWhat district.
And of course, certainly better than paying to build and operate (and constantly worrying about) an aerial tram [rim shot] to some rich doctors' private offices and the latest Homer Williams apartment ghetto.