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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Waste of space

ESPN's still going on about major league baseball in Portland. I love the idea, but as long as the current mayor's in office, it ain't gonna happen, so let's not belabor the point.

Comments (28)

Baseball in Portland should have nothing to do with the government. It either works on its own or doesn't work.

Asking taxpayers to support a mega-wealthy owner is absurd. We've already gone through that with Paul Allen and look what's happened. He's destroyed the Trailblazers and his Oregon Arena Corp. declared bankruptcy and stiffed many local creditors with millions in unpaid debts.

If Portland wants baseball, they can raise the capital from local investors. If 10,000 people all bought $10,000 worth of shares, that would raise $1 billion and we would have a 100% fan owned baseball team. That's one hell of a lot better option than taxpayers supporting another billionaire geek like Paul Allen.

It either works on its own or doesn't work.

Then it doesn't "work" anywhere in the country. No one's asking the city to buy the team. It's asking the city to build and own the stadium.

Jack, I've got to push back on you about this. How is public financing for a baseball stadium any different than public financing for a tram, or streetcars, or wi-fi, or anything else that benefits a select group of citizens, at the expense of a crumbling infrastructure? I just don't see why it's more justified than any other publically-financed boondoggle.

This post' juxtaposition just before the Lightfoot post has made me bit cranky. Sorry.

Portland is progressive. It's time to think differently about how sports teams are financed and operated. Government subsidization of mega wealthy sports teams owners doesn't work. Paul Allen has destroyed the city's beloved Trailblazers while he has stiffed taxpayers in the process.

A fan owned team is likely to reflect the values and culture of Portland and result in no taxpayer subsidy. Many sports teams around the country don't ask government for help. Take a look at the Green Bay Packers. There may not be a more loyal fanbase that Packer fans.

The mega wealthy are always asking government for handouts. That's why we have politicians controlled by lobbyists. Fortunately we have Tom Potter who isn't in the pockets of the elite. Bravo Tom!!

Funny. I was thinking about baseball in Portland the other night as I drove past the Rose Quarter on a rare dark night. Mike Scanlon and his excellent Global Spectrum crew have made the Rose Quarter the busiest complex in the world. Yet despite that, the former Cucina Cucina is still empty. And other space that used to be restaurants and Nike Town is now occupied by a doctor's office and offices. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the "if you build it, they will come" economic mantra we keep hearing. Go visit the stadium district in Seattle or Chase Field/US Airways Arena in Phoenix on an off day and you'll find much the same thing. Heck, we were sold the same bill of goods when Marshall "Lyle Lanley" Glickman told us about the wonders of an upgraded Civic Stadium. The City is still paying that thing off.

If stadiums were such a great deal for business, business would be building them everywhere.

I predict Vancouver becoming the dominant city within the next 20 years (as long as they don't adopt any of our silly land use/transportation laws), so why not build the stadium in Vancouver.. Privately financed of course.

as long as they don't adopt any of our silly land use/transportation laws

Due to the lack of silly land use laws, I predict the City of Vancouver will be sprawled out over most of Clark Co. in 20 yrs--lovely cookie cutter subdivisions and strip malls as far as the eye can see.

If and when, MLB decides to expand to 30 teams, I think Portland will on the top of the list of expansion cities.

And having stadium in Portland paid for by the income tax of future MLB employees is an okay way to build a stadium.

That said, I don't think MLB is going to expand anytime soon. They have too many problems with their current teams. So, I'm kinda with Jack, it aint gonna happen.

"Then it doesn't "work" anywhere in the country."

That is the point... they don't. A deeper look at stadiums, and the financial burdens placed on the cities they are located in don't support a conclusion of "Success". Rather, the true cost of these immense projects are buried, confused, and intentionally kept from obvious public view. If you doubt this... where are we at with the Tram?

Morgan - there already are 30 MLB teams.

But I agree, they're not expanding anytime soon. And anyway, San Antonio and Las Vegas will have bigger metro areas than Portland in fairly short order.

Sorry, above I meant to say "Justin, there already are 30 teams."

And also re: Cucina Cucina closing - gee, you mean people don't like paying $15 for crap spaghetti??? I wonder why it closed.

Put a McMenamins in there and you'd have to beat people off with a stick.

I agree with Morgan about the restaurant. If the place is going to charge the hyperinflated prices that prevail inside the prison walls of the arena, forget it.

The other thing that might help is a super-easy way to park a car when there's no event. Free parking in the East-West lots would be a cool touch.

Chris's point needs to be elaborated. When the Rose Quarter was being designed there were many urban design critics of creating immense superblocks with no public street access and surrounding them with "dead" parking structures and no clear connection to the cities waterfront. But who prevailed? Paul Allen's urban planners with the Portland planners bowing behind. Creating spaces like the Rose Quarter has been a "no no" in urban design for decades and more.

Now, the City is considering an urban renewal project for an urban renewal project-the Rose Quarter. Wow! Figures like $20M to $50M have been thrown out. This is after taxpayers of Portland already contributed $38M into the Rose Quarter plus the land cost. The planners (besides the cash registers) now recognize that the Rose Quarter is a "dead zone" even though they said it would become the "new entertainment center of Portland". Even Eugene redesigned it's primary street-Willamette with vehicle access several years ago.

You know, sometimes streets with cars are not so bad. The urban planners now recognize that the downtown Portland Transit mall exlusive to buses created a "dead zone". Now taxpayers are spending $280MILLION to correct this poor planning effort.

Maybe PLANNING is the problem.

And the "new" Rose Quarter? A Joe Weston condo skyscraper -- another vertical Levittown -- across the street. I'd rather leave it the way it is.

Come on, Paul Allen is not known for his business acumen. You believed him when he said he could create the "new entertainment center" in Portland?

Look at the Rose Quarter on Google Maps. It's surrounded by a freeway to the east, the river and a grain silo and the old MC to the west, a cluster**** of wide streets, light rail tracks and open space to the south and a sea of parking lots to the north.

Recently, I and some friends went to see a Blazer game. We parked in N. Portland to avoid the parking gouge. We walked several blocks on dimly lit streets, across the parking lot sea before finally settling in the Rose Garden. After the game, we walked back along the parking lot sea/dimly lit streets to DRIVE TO A BAR.

However, if they developed some of those lots on NE Broadway into something decent, like a restaurant/bar combo, or maybe leveled/converted the Coliseum into something useful, the area wouldn't be as bad. Maybe when they get Streetcar going across the B'way bridge, one could (if one were so inclined) drink/eat in the Pearl and then streetcar it up to the game. I'd consider doing that. I've MAX'ed it to games before, but the post-game crush made me not want to do it again.

I know this comment will open me up to lots of criticism, so go at it.

if they developed some of those lots on NE Broadway into something decent, like a restaurant/bar combo, or maybe leveled/converted the Coliseum into something useful, the area wouldn't be as bad.

I don't think you'll get much argument about that. But the only thing you're going to get on the north side of Broadway over there is condo towers. Joe Weston and the boys have already staked it out, and Sam the Tram and Erik the Fire Commissioner are no doubt more than happy to dole out public money for that.

I guess you could get a decent bistro on the ground floor of a condo behemoth, but the Pearlie-East types would probably complain about the noise.

The parking gouge? There's no way out of that one. Near any major arena, anywhere.

And anyway, San Antonio and Las Vegas will have bigger metro areas than Portland in fairly short order.

I'm always trying to figure out which pro sports league will succumb to Vegas first. Vegas has had the money and traffic to support any league for quite awhile now.

I know the NFL won't touch em, but Selig's successor might.

The area has potential. Beyond the current state of affairs over that way. I work nearby and the RG looks and feels like a ghost town. Weird considering the ghost town is flanked by a amazing looking arena. Good restruants with proven success in PDX would be a great first step. Crappy overpriced condos wouldn't be bad either. As long as I'm not paying a dime for them!

What a mess!

I'm always trying to figure out which pro sports league will succumb to Vegas first.

You may have noticed the NBA all-star game is in Vegas this year. I've got Carmello and the under in the office "police blotter" pool. The line will move significantly if Zach makes the West squad.

The Sacramento Kings are doing everything in their power to move to Vegas. It'll be interesting to see if that happens. Of the four major sports leagues, the NBA is the leader in Vegas relocation. By a mile.

And having stadium in Portland paid for by the income tax of future MLB employees is an okay way to build a stadium.

So have the taxes of the highest paid people in the state stay out of the schools, state troopers, etc? Sorry, I dont get that. Maybe we should give them a tax abatement on their extravagant homes too?

I would love a team here, but I dont want any public money involved. Thats just silly. And I dont care what other cities do. Maybe it is time some of the overpaid teenagers in MLB (and all sports) got a reality check and took a paycut to keep their "dream" alive? I like baseball, but if it cannot survive without public assistance, maybe it should go the way of the Dodo.

A tram is bad, Wi-Fi is bad, but a baseball stadium is ok?

Fortunately we have Tom Potter who isn't in the pockets of the elite.

I hope that was a joke...

On the one hand, I don't like public money going to luxuries like sports teams.

On the other hand, Denver's Lower Downtown was very positively affected by Coors Field. It went from a seedy warehouse district to a go-to place. Downtown wasn't a place everyone left at 5:00 anymore. If done well, ballparks change the entire feel of the neighborhood 81 nights a year for the better. (If done poorly...well...)

Also, I don't have trouble with public money going to the symphony or an art museum or feels like baseball should be treated similarly.

However, I agree with the consensus that Portland is third or fourth in line right now, which means it ain't gonna happen in my lifetime. Baseball will stay at 30 for the forseeable future, and I don't see three teams relocating.

Jack, all the posts here are overlooking one thing. This is Hawkey-town. We should agressively be courting the Pittsburg Penguins to move to our fair city. We have the facility in the Rose Garden to more than accomodate the NHL and the fan base is crazy about the Winterhawks, and they're a bunch of 16-20 year olds. Imagine the excitement if we got a NHL team in here!!!

OK, I am a major hockey buff but I still think that a NHL team would thrive here in Portland and wish that people could see that fact. And hey, I'm not alone! I know that one Amanda Fritz thinks hawkey is fun.

Teacher, the symphony and the art museum are not tax dollar supported institutions. Well, there might be a little that slips to them in an insidious way.

MLB in Portland is a very viable and likely proposition. The efforts made over the past few years went a long way towards crafting a financing plan and the only real piece missing is leadership in Portland government. The idea that Portland is 3rd or 4th on the list is absurd, it just appears that way to some because Potter and others are not standing up and saying "we want this." Portland is absolutely the most likely and viable MLB market that does not currently have a team. In fact Portland is a more attractive market than several CURRENT MLB markets. I suspect that a two-team expansion, while 5 years off at best, would yield teams in Portland and the San Antonion area.

As for funding that is purely fictional without an ownership group. The city should be willing to assist development of a ballpark in much the same way they can assist other development that is to say through zoning changes, tax deferments and other creative ways to give a developer/investor something without removing actual money from the city general fund.

If the city has possession or control of a percel suitable for MLB it can basically hand it over for the construction. Take money from incomes generated to fund part of the construction (half)and use naming rights to pay operating costs (very viable). All this talks is HONEST dealing which sadly is not common in MLB.

Portland will have a baseball team as soon as someone wants to spend their money to get one there. Until that kind of vocal leadership emerges it's a discussion of theory.

The good news is that the USA in general has cooled to direct public financing of sports stadiums in most areas. This is the reason for the troubles in DC and Miami over their stadiums.

We have the facility in the Rose Garden to more than accomodate the NHL and the fan base is crazy about the Winterhawks, and they're a bunch of 16-20 year olds. Imagine the excitement if we got a NHL team in here!!!

I disagree...I think people like the Winterhawks because of who they are, and how they play. They play because they love the game and want to play their hearts out. Not for money or fame. They are not anything like the high-priced mama's boys of ALL the professional sports. Thats why college sports thrive here as well.

Yes, the Winterhawk players love the game and yes, they play their hearts out for the love of the game, but lets be realistic. They aspire to play in the big leagues, the main stage, the NHL, where the big bucks are at. I don't mean to sound jaded but come on. Most college sports are the proving grounds for the big leagues and the allure of the money is a heck of a motivator.

That having been said, there is no better feeling in the world than getting out on the ice and playing the game of hockey. As someone who almost got a scholarship at a reputable hockey school (Denver U.), trust me, your goal is to make it to the pros but you can definately enjoy the ride for the love of the game.

How is public financing of a sports arena (for use by a private, for-profit company), different than public financing of any other private company? Say, Intel. Should we pay to build their next chip plant for them?


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