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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Portland park land in jeopardy

Now it's Lents Park, which would be converted into a professional baseball stadium. Gee, we did so well with PGE Park, let's blow another eight figures and screw up a nice residential neighborhood to boot. And we hear that Don "the Don" Mazziotti has got a piece of this one -- isn't that special? (Looks like old Don's time with the Schnitzers was rather short.)

Comments (35)

Umm, some folks in that neighborhood actually support this idea. And there are some that don't as well.

Also, on a historical note, my Dad let me know that the present day Eastport Plaza shopping center on 82nd Ave was originally touted as the location for the "new home" of the Portland Beavers back in the 1950s when the demise of the old Vaughn Street Park was imminent.

So...This is because they want to move the Bevos to Lents?

Does this mean that somebody has their eye on the Civic Stadium...uh, PGE Park?

Mazziotti is involved. Professional baseball is involved. Public land is involved. Developers are involved. The first and the last are inextricably linked.

That's trouble. For us, the taxpayers.

Never, never, never, never, subsidize professional sports of any kind from the public coffers. It will just lead to attempted extortion....just like it did with Paul "I Think I Need Yet Another Humungeous Yacht" Allen here with the Rose Quarter (bazillion bucks).

If any promoter thinks this is just the best market in the world for professional athletics, I wish them the best at finding all the private investment monies to support their dreams. Local government should stay the hell out of it.

Lents Park is completely surrounded by two lane residential type streets in an almost completely residential neighborhood. Youth soccer, football and baseball all use Lents Park for games and practices and there is no way they are going to preserve most of the field space that is currently in full use for these sports if they build a stadium of any significant size. The major through streets are Holgate and 92nd and they are not suitable for large events, nor are they right off the freeway, etc. A baseball stadium closer to Foster and I-205 would make a lot more sense as it would be closer to major thoroughfare, the freeway and MAX and it wouldn't involve destroying precious park land.

Hi Jack,

I looked at this as an exciting opportunity for a regional entertainment center in what is currently a fairly ghetto neighborhood. You obviously see it differently.

So I have to ask: Recognizing that change is inevitable, are there any changes to the way Portland used to be that you would support? Or is everything that is different from the idealized past always bad?

The footprint for this project would do little to take away precious park land. The stadium would be built where the current Walker Stadium is located. A parking structure of some sort would also need to be built. If you go to Lents Park and check out the existing stadium and the land directly next to it you'll see that this would still leave a lot of the park in tact for other uses.

And it is worth noting that a Max line in Lents will be in use in 2009, which is well before when this stadium would be finished.

There is a lot of support for this in Lents.

Speaking as a guy who's been to a heck of a lot of ballparks, I like the charm of a downtown ballpark. And while I haven't been to Lents Park, it's distant enough from downtown that I think there's little chance of charm--charm that the underrated PGE Park has quite a bit of. I really love looking past the left field wall at the Maxx trains, skyscrapers, and Oregonian building. It's a fun ballpark right now--so if the Beavers moved, I'd certainly go to fewer Beavers games, in good part because it'd be a longer drive. But then again, I'd probably replace that part of my budget going to see the new MLS squad.

I'd also be saddened at the building of an 8-10K seat ballpark, since it would permanently squash my (admittedly very longshot pipe-dream) hopes of MLB in PDX.

All that said, MLS expansion to Portland isn't a done deal, so there's a long way to go before this has any shot at becoming reality.

I'm sure the residents of the area will be delighted to learn they are living in a "ghetto".
If 'the Don' is involved you can be sure it is a crooked, back room deal that will benefit no one but the developers.

In keeping with the City's goal to avoid sprawl and reduce dependence on the automobile, no stadium or major sports facility should be built more than 500 feet from a MAX stop.

I didn't realize that Lents Park is so close to a proposed MAX stop. I'll have to think of a different reason to oppose it.

This is another whacked idea from Commissioner Leonard. Soccer at PGE park has been on the upswing because of rising latino attendance. I think most other groups find watching soccer a big time bore although baseball ain't much more exciting. I doubt many folks would ride the Max to go to a Bevos game at Lents park, making parking a big issue. Already Mayor Potter has silenced events at Walker stadium because neighbors spoke against stadium music after 8pm. So, no music. Does anybody honestly believe Portland, with its high wage construction philosphy, will actually be able to build a triple A baseball stadium for $35 million? And even if it were, to build it for such sum, I doubt if the investment does anything but lose taxpayer dollars. The Bevos just don't make this kind of money.

I think a better idea would be to move either soccer or baseball to Hillsboro stadium. It would spare Portland taxpayers the grief of another city-money-making-scheme gone bad.

Baseball? I thought Potter said no subsidies for MLB.

The fix was supposed to be in on Soccer, not Baseball. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!

Soccer at PGE park has been on the upswing because of rising latino attendance. I think most other groups find watching soccer a big time bore although baseball ain't much more exciting.

I'd be happy to change your mind about that Bob or do you not like fun?

This is a simple, easy plan that gives an MLS franchise a great place to play, a AAA team or below a great new ballpark to play in, a boost to the local economy, urban renewal in a neighborhood that needs it, create a hell of a lot of jobs and it's not that expensive. This is a no brainer to say yes to.

The Timbers draw over 8,000+ fans a game and the Beavers about 5K per game. PGE park will never support MLB and NOBODY in Oregon is rich enough to buy a team and build an MLB stadium. PGE Park will be great for an MLS team and a MUCH nicer Stadium for PSU to play in.

I grew up in the area. I remember the city planting the trees on the Holgate side as saplings - which are now huge. Lents was the only park within walking distance of where I lived. During summer days the choice was walking to Lents and splashing in the wading pool or taking the Holgate/Powell bus to Creston Park and swimming in the big pool. I didn’t always have the fifteen cents to do that so Lents wading pool was the fall back position. I was eight or nine at the time. My fantasy with baseball was reading comic books and collecting baseball cards. An occasional Beavers game with my friend’s and their dad was maybe a once a year treat. Hey, we were all poor in South East Portland. Lents was the only park the neighborhood was always the poor stepsister of Portland’s parks. I am always critical of all the frivolous expenditure this city is involved in, but in this instance I am going to support it as the neighborhood needs the investment and future generations of kids will have something more than a second rate park to go to. The prerequisite is that they keep the price of admission to the games in the affordable range. And for adults keep the price of beer under five bucks.

The footprint for this project would do little to take away precious park land.

Really? Come on. A stadium big enough for a Beaver game, plus all the traffic and parking? That's a far, far cry from what's going on in Lents Park these days.

The prerequisite is that they keep the price of admission to the games in the affordable range. And for adults keep the price of beer under five bucks.

You are delusional. The only ways this stadium would be paid off are on the backs of the ticketholders and on the backs of the taxpayers.

This is the next Convention Center expansion -- an utterly frivolous hemorrhage of money that will send big taxpayer bucks to Hoffman Construction and the Don's other good buddies on Council Crest and in Dunthorpe.

You are delusional. The only ways this stadium would be paid off are on the backs of the ticketholders and on the backs of the taxpayers.

What ticketholders? Hardly anyone goes to Beavers games. Their woeful attendance figures don't help any sort of MLB bid.

Other than that of course taxpayers might pay a bit. Let's be honest though. It's an investment in a part of town that needs some help. It's nothing we all wouldn't spend on a night at a bar or at the movies. I'm all for not spending a bunch of money on worthless things but this is far from worthless. It's a city upgrade (MLS) that attracts tourism (Manchester United or Arsenal comes here to play friendlies you'll see tourism dollars up the wazoo) and it helps the Lents neighborhood. What's so bad with that?

People don't live here because there isn't anything to do. Open a ballpark in Lents and I'm there 3-5 times a year at least. I wouldn't approach the area under any other circumstances because I don't shop at Wal-Mart, they took out the good thrift store that used to reside there and I don't like strippers and meth. Instantly I'm in that neighborhood spending what, $100 a year. That's jobs and thats progress!

In answer to JHB, who wants to paint any opposition to this and similar scams as anti-progress:

What part of "Do it on your own dime," and, "No loss of existing amenities," do you not understand?

The ideal past Portland that I want to bring back is the one that ranked preserving and increasing green space above this kind of scam on the public's dime. Once upon a time, we prided ourselves on connecting people to green spaces via transit.

The threat these scammers always throw out is that if Portland won't give away enough of our too-scarce public dollars and livability assets like parks, the developers will take that development elsewhere. My response: "Cool!"

"This is a simple, easy plan that gives an MLS franchise a great place to play, a AAA team or below a great new ballpark to play in, a boost to the local economy, urban renewal in a neighborhood that needs it, create a hell of a lot of jobs and it's not that expensive. This is a no brainer to say yes to."

This sounds just like the argument Mark Gardiner and Glickman Jr gave to Vera to get her to drop $35M into PGE Park. That was a great idea too.

When are people going to realize that politicians who have no skill set besides gettign elected are poor people to make any kind of business decision?

"Really? Come on. A stadium big enough for a Beaver game, plus all the traffic and parking? That's a far, far cry from what's going on in Lents Park these days."

I just eyeballed it on Google Earth, and a facility the size of PGE Park would take up quite a bit less than the north half of Lents Park.

Can you build an iconic baseball stadium--Portland's postcard--for only $35 million?

I see plenty of green space left in this rendering:

Don't beleive the spin folks...
I repeat, anything! to which 'the Don' is connected has got to be a total scam!

In 10 years all of the NYT articles about Portland will be cautionary: how greed and avarice destroyed a once-great city. How can people keep falling for these scams?

Dudes, I understand there is lots of vacant land in SoWat. I'm sure the residents of those million dollar condos would LOVE the traffic, fireworks and extra-loud music every night. This would be a tipping point for the additional freeway access that area needs. And that area needs an attractor like this, too. Why should poor ghettos get all the toys like this?

Go nuke your own neighborhoods.

I question the need of another ball park for baseball. I don't thing the average attendance is anywhere near 5K a night for baseball. On Thursday they attract the hops lovers, but on regular nights I don't see 5K. I makes no sense.

As a former youth soccer coach of 4 years I can directly state that Lents Park is at full capacity on weekdays and weekends with youth soccer, football and baseball. Those who point out that a map shows that the south end of the park would still be available after the stadium is built don't realize that the south west end has a large downhill area which isn't suitable for sports fields and the south east corner is primarily playground/basketball courts. I think a AAA baseball stadium in Lents is a great idea, but they need to find somewhere else to put it. Hopefully closer to Foster and I-205.

Stadiums ,Concert Halls , Arenas
and anything else that serve a
city need to be in the MIDDLE !
Put it Lents and WashCo folks will never go , you lose half the market before you start.

Lents, just so far out of the "city." Just laughable. Last time I checked, Portland stretches to 160th or so, doesnt it--Lents is far inside that.

Garrett--typical response--yes, Lents is nothing but Wal-Mart, strippers and meth. You're so right!

I get so frustrated about such lazy, throw-away analysis of something like this. It's not a simple issue. I live in an adjacent neighborhood and have deep family ties to the area.

I see the revitalization as necessary and beneficial. Instead of a rote "strippers and meth" dismissal of Lents and the surrounding areas, think about it a little bit. This area (a former autonomous town, I might add) was royally screwed when 205 cut it in half. Neither the city, PDC nor any other entity can make it whole again.

However, the prospect of incentives for small business development in the area(e.g. Foster Rd. URA annexation) help me see a future that is brighter and better. I don't have a knee jerk reaction that re-labels these actions as a PDC/city/developer bad. Whether or not I really want a three story condo development a block from my house is a separate question from what will benefit the community as a whole in the long run.

Do I trust a slick sell job by the Gallatin Group? Probably not. This proposal has pros and cons. It's not 100% of either. At least try to respect real human beings and recognize them as such in the process. They have a right to be proud of their community and try to better it, just as if it were Hillsdale or Irvington.

I don't see all THAT much lazy, throw-away analysis here. I think there is legitimate concern about the impact of such a project on a neighborhood that realistically lacks the infrastructure to support such a project. I know there is definite OUTRAGE over the city continuing to gift developers with tax money while the roads and water pipes crumble. You don't have to be a Lents resident to be outraged by that. Don't sweat the meth and strippers comments; they probably live in Gresham and just want to feel better than somebody, anybody . . .

What? Boring is not enough?

I seriously doubt the Bevos draw 5,000 in average attendance per game in Portland. I think they are lucky to draw 1,000 on most nights, and occassionally have to give tickets away to get over the 5,000 mark.

So, if this idea is such a good one for this neighborhood, then take it over the hill to the bowling alley property, buy that, with YOUR OWN dollars, develop it, WITH YOUR OWN DOLLARS, and let Lents Park thrive and serve its neighborhood like it already is.

Do any of the proponents of this scam realize that this park just got redeveloped, as in a band shell, stadium upgrades, walking path, turf improvements, etc? Those were the improvements that the community wanted. All of them would be destroyed, along with all those well-used soccer, football and ball fields, by this proposal.

It is not lazy analysis to point out that this proposal is obviously a solution looking for a problem, and one which is more clearly than anything designed to make people with no ties to this community richer than the public has already made them.

I'll bet Don's tenure with the Schnitzers was so limited because Arlene actually saw him in action and was so repulsed by it, she canned his a**.

She's not easily buffaloed by b******t, which is Don's forte.

I'm with equal time. If it's so all-fired superlative an idea economically, it shouldn't need any subsidy from the government.

Why is it that so many in the private sector who yammer on about "free enterprise capitalism" know so little about it, and are always standing around with their hands out for handouts?

It's the same thing as that damned Convention Center Hotel.

a facility the size of PGE Park would take up quite a bit less than the north half of Lents Park.

And the parking goes where?

And the groups who are using that part of the park now go where?


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