Paulson stadium in Lents would need huge parking lot
The insanity of Portland taxpayers forking over $85 million or more in the middle of a recession to re-do PGE Park yet again, and to build a new minor league baseball stadium out in Lents Park, defies description. One aspect of the plan that's gotten little attention is the fact that the new stadium in Lents will need at least 1,500 new parking spaces, if not more.
The paradise-paving need was discussed at an October meeting of the Portland Parks Board, where Henry Merritt Paulson III and his local henchman, former PDC boss Don "the Don" Mazziotti, made their snake oil pitch. The minutes are here; among them are these nuggets:
Don Mazziotti said the footprint for the stadium wouldn’t be as large as one for a major league team, but it would be about twice as big as the baseball stadium in Keizer. They need a minimum of seven acres, with direct access to light rail, available business services, and good automobile access....Fifteen hundred parking spaces? Whoa! Just by way of comparison, the long-term lot at the Portland Airport holds only 1,400.
Mary Anne Cassin asked how many jobs would be coming to the area that would support the Beavers move. Greg Peden said most of the jobs would be employees moving from their current jobs at PGE Park. Other jobs could come from businesses moving near the ballpark, or businesses already located nearby who would see an increase in their business, i.e. restaurants.
Mary Anne also asked if there was any flexibility in the number of parking spots required. Merritt said a minimum of 1500 spots is needed, maybe more....
Zari said that Don Mazziotti has met several times with Comm. Saltzman. She said that other sports fields and users would need to be accommodated if this project is to work. However, she said Comm. Saltzman spoke about how this project sets a precedent with regard to losing open space and allowing additional parking in a park. Zari said there needs to be no net loss to PP&R, as Lents is already in a park deficient area.
Notice how weak the "jobs" claim is: Most of the new jobs will come from cannibalizing existing jobs at PGE Park. The rest is supposed to trickle down to restaurants and similar businesses around the new Lents ballpark. Really? How many restaurant jobs in the vicinity of PGE Park are the Beavers responsible for now?
Meanwhile, the "major" soccer league that Paulson and the city are courting for the latest remodel of PGE continues to limp along on the margins of viability:
This season the league suffered its first decline in average regular-season attendance and television viewership on ESPN2 in three years. Half the teams in the league saw a decline in average attendance in 2008, causing the league’s average attendance to fall by 1.8 percent, or to 16,459 a game.Fireman Randy and Sam the Tram are so enamored of this project -- but then again, they loved the idea of moving the Sauvie Island Bridge to the Pearl District for a bicycle bridge. They were talked out of that one -- let's hope they come to their senses on this, too. Let's not blow nine figures and pave over a park for two sports stadiums to accommodate a soccer team in a second- or third-tier league that's going nowhere fast.
And let's be clear on where the pressure is coming from on this. It's not just Paulson who will make out on the deal -- there are doubtlessly some fat-cat construction companies who will also go to the bank with the city taxpayers' dough. A true Arlington Club special.