This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 10, 2008 9:21 AM. The previous post in this blog was Historic transition meeting. The next post in this blog is Do it right. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, November 10, 2008

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....

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.

Fifteen hundred parking spaces? Whoa! Just by way of comparison, the long-term lot at the Portland Airport holds only 1,400.

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.

Comments (48)

Paving means more petroleum and pollution. More cars means more petroleum and pollution. Portland already has the worst air in the Northwest. This seems like an oxymoron for bike city usa.

Urban Fondue is less than half a mile away.

PGE Park is bad for his business because the stadium's nacho flavored squeeze cheese competes with the restaurant's gruyère fondue.

I thought Sam was pushing the idea of razing Memorial Coliseum and building a ballpark there. Makes waaaay more sense than the Lents idea, plus the parking and light rail are already there.


Most of the 1500 parking spaces can be accommodated at Marshall High School, the Holgate Park and Ride and the property between the Light Rail and 205 bike path on the South side of Holgate that is now not viable for highway expansion.

If you don't include on-street parking, there's still a need for 500 spaces that may need to be built in the park, adjacent to the new ballpark. They are exploring ideas for keeping the parking limited to game-days/times only and using hardscape/landscape techniques that will result in a multi-use area that can still serve as open space, rather than just a parking lot.

As far as jobs go...you can not compare economic development in the Central City to economic development in Lents. Amenities like restaurants and retail already existed in the central city when PGE park was renovated. They currently don't exist in Lents. Bringing a ballpark to Lents will bring economic activity to Lents. Coupled with the continuation of the economic activity at PGE park, that is a net gain.

When you start analyzing smaller, more diverse geographies, the plan makes sense.

If they want people to use mass transit to get to and from the games, leave the Beavers where they are (duh).

How interesting that Sam and the other councilors, who rant and rave about the need to eliminate cars, encourage green transportation, and save the environment, are apparently turning at least a partial blind eye to 1500 parking spaces and the loss of a decent neighborhood park.

Had a conversation with an otherwise perfectly intelligent and thoughtful friend the other day, who thinks Sam the tram is doing a great job, and fully supports the stadium deal as "good for Portland." When I mentioned that the city was too broke to even pave the streets on the east side, he just shrugged it off. "We have to expand MAX first. Stop catering to cars." We were sitting in traffic in his car at the time.

Sam Adams was proposing city funds for local banks.

When does Adams' intelligence get assessed?

Excerpt from below:

You met with some local bankers in October. In a letter to them you said: The city is interested in pursuing an injection of city funds in local financial institutions. What do you mean and what's the goal?
Frankly, I don't think they're interested. But what my idea was, the city has around $900 million in its checking account. That includes bond proceeds that we have yet to spend. That includes reserves. Grants we've received but haven't yet spent. Those kinds of things.
I wouldn't put at risk, unnecessarily, the city's money. My idea was we would invest the maximum amount covered by the FDIC in every local bank. They would get $250,000 in a city deposit for let's say a period of time. My question to them was: Would that give you a backstop to then turn it around and loan on five to 10 times the deposits you have on hand? I was looking for a win-win here. We might get less in terms of interest than we would by putting it into treasuries but the difference wouldn't be that great. I think their response was that we're just too little. The banks in Portland appear to be in good shape, relatively speaking.



There is a light rail stop on the green line less than a block from the proposed ballpark site in Lents. The site has comprable transit access to PGE park.

The 1500 parking spaces within 1200 feet of the ballpark are a requirement of the Pacific Coast League. I'm sure if the league would let the city/developers identify and build less parking, they would. There is plenty of parking in the area, but it happens to be just outside of the 1200 foot requirement. (Eastport Plaza)

The top brass of the area's construction companies are desperate, because we're in a recession and high-profit projects are scarce. Therefore, they're probably working behind the scenes for this soccer stadium boondoggle. They certainly got behind the Zoo and PCC bonds. In fact, they were in front of it, too.

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?

I remember reading a book about the scam that is professional sports stadiums (stadia?) some years ago, and essentially the point was that it's all zero sum when it comes to the famed "multiplier effect" that these things have on jobs. If a stadium "creates" 1,000 jobs in a city, for example, most of those jobs ultimately are pulled from some other area of the city. Additionally, most of the jobs created are low-wage service jobs--nothing against service jobs, but let's not pretend we're creating some massive uptick in high-wage industrial jobs by building a stadium.

This isn't an Arlington Club job; it's hard to get the members interested in anything east of 39th Avenue except for the airport. Most of the members probably couldn't even find Lents on a map.

The construction company boys and the architects could care less where the project is, so long as they get their pork.

"Amenities like restaurants and retail already existed in the central city when PGE park was renovated. They currently don't exist in Lents."

So a ballpark playing 70 nights a year is enough reason to open a restaurant out there?

THere is no economic justification for this at all - not that anyone in Sam's office could put together a real world one anyways.

The wild economic development claims have been disproven in multiple studies. The money spent at a new stadium tends to simply subtract from other household entertainment spending.

These things do not pay for themselves, not matter how many times you hear it or what the pitch is. They don't pay for themselves.

And naturally, it will get a gigantic parking lot. If Paulson has a brain in his head, he wouldn't accept a new facility without one. Planners worship at the alter of light rail. Business people know there is no substitute for a big ol' parking lot at your front door.

Oh, and having Don Mazziotti on board probably hurt's Paulson's chances. Whatever clout he had, he left it in his PDC office with his key to the executive bathroom.

Color me cynical.

Fifteen hundred mostly privately owned parking spots; a new Max line.

A relatively brief PCL season.

I see a cash cow for the parking spot developer / owner providing, on days when there are no games, fee paid park and ride spaces for the commuters who are slowly being bludgeoned out of their cars by local and state governmental policies. The "free" park and ride spots are filled to overflowing daily. There will be a market for fee paid park and ride spots.

And I have a feeling that the parking fee cash will flow, not to local governmental bodiies like CoP or Tri Met but instead into the pockets pof Paulson and friends.

This parking spot plan has a definite odor to it.

Well, I operated 2 cafes back in my salad days, in similar neighborhood situations. I'd say having 5000+ people on the street three nights a week during the spring and summer is pretty compelling. It's not going to sustain a chain restaurant...but that's not the type of business the neighborhood wants. So, that type of traffic, coupled with the recent market studies that show there's already a market for restaurants and more specialized groceries is reason enough to open a neighborhood joint. Without the promise of the ballpark...it's riskier but still feasible.

Deeds...I doubt PPR will allow enough OS zoning to be rezoned for an enormous parking lot. The neighbors are also pretty protective of the non-Walker Stadium portions of the park. Paulson's organization knew this going in and is trying to limit the amount of parking adjacent to the stadium to the 500 spaces that can not be accommodated near by.

Is anyone else aware that in RENO, NEVADA a Triple AAA Baseball Stadium is being completed for the 2009 Baseball Season and the project is being paid for with mostly PRIVATE MONEY? Not to mention I'm willing to bet the costs to build it are way below what it costs in Portland - where the unions want their "cut".

The question is what does Portland need at this moment? Does it need more cars or more affordable housing and gardening plots for food production. I hear the city has a very long wait list for people who want to garden. I parking lot of this size could grow alot of food and mitigate alot of green house gas.

As long as it's a green parking lot, I don't see what the problem is.


Who is this Psymonetta Isnoful person?

That type of purposeful language is redolent of a paid schill for the Paulson/Adams/PDC crew.

Although, he did operate two cafes in his "salad days." WTF does "salad days" mean? What were the names of the restaurants Psymonetta?

I smell BS.

If this plan makes so much sense, why does Paulson need public funds?

Reggie Theus

The old man has 550 million in Goldman.....he should foot the bill. They build that in Lents expect more crime. Better put a shield around parked cars in that hood..nothing will be left when they leave the game to get their rides. Very bad area. Cops tell me they would much rather work Albina than Lents. COPS could film years of shows there.

Is No Fool; so you know that a restaurant can succeed with just five months of moderate foot traffic coming in maybe every other week for three or four days? Your business model will not succeed, and you know it. Your motives are obviously to sell something and it isn't just cracker jacks.

This restaurant might produce 12 jobs, possibly displaced from another part of the city, but they won't be "new". But with you stating it repeatably, and to Randy and Sam who both epitomize economic genius, then maybe it will fly. But not if it is put to a vote.

Maybe Amanda will step up to the plate and call it for what it is.

Psymonetta appears magically whenever the natives get restless over diversion of their tax dollars into big developers' pockets, as opposed to actual government services. She always has 15 new reasons why the particular daylight robbery in question is a super-duper idea, which change as fast as Sarah Palin's outfits. Short version: Don't feed the trolls.

I believe Psymonetta is Cora Potter, the chair of the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. Hence her interest in this particular issue. She has risen to the defense of the PDC on this blog several times in the past.

You are correct, Jack. I'm not hiding behind a handle. Most people know me by Psymonetta in these forums, so I use that avatar for consistency.

I'm not a shill or a defender. I just prefer to save my criticisms for occasions when they are actually warranted. The result is, when I choose to be critical, I'm taken seriously. In this forum, I'm simpy providing the pertinent information. I prefer that people make assessments of projects in my neighborhood based on the reality of the situation, rather than just being against something based on a philosophical inclination.

If they need 1500 parking spaces at minimum, make them build 400 of these quad stacker things, and make them do it on their own friggin dime.

If they have a problem with that, tell them to screw.

If there is a market for such a thing, then the private sector will build it. Thus, no subsidy is required. The owner must purchase and combine land themselves, within the established law. No municipal ordinance needs change to bring the final product to fruition.

It must pay it's own way from the beginning, and there will be no additional public burdens due to the placement of such a nuisance attraction...the owners will be responsible for traffic and noise mitigation and security, cleaning and maintenance costs shall be charged to the final private operator....who pays taxes. Just like every other business.

Eminent domain cannot be used for this project, as the city, nor any other public agency, has any part in it.

Thus, if this proposal can go forward without any kind of public subsidy, including deferred financing through urban renewal status, then I've no objection.

Minor details, I'm sure.

In my mind the purpose of urban renewal is to transform blight into something more desirable. Turning a park which is already bursting at the seems with youth sports etc. into a for-profit stadium with acres of parking is hardly the type of thing that will move Lents forward. I say find a better location in the Lents area...something closer to Foster, I-205 and the new Max line. I would also point out that the surface streets near Lents Park are not really appropriate for heavy traffic. I have commuted along 92nd by bicycle and traffic at 92nd and Holgate backs way up during rush hour because 92 is one lane each direction for about a mile running north and south. No one will want to come to a ball game at Lents Park if it takes and hour coming and going because of the huge traffic jam.

Kevin, the Lents park site is just as close to a lightrail stop as any site availble near Foster. Also, most of the activities will continue at the park. There's also potential to move some and even help move along the development of additional open space.

This is not a case of turning over an entire park to a private entity. It is more like Parks (the lessor) helping a tenant finance the neccesary improvments needed to get better use from an existing facility (the Walker Stadium portion of Lents Park).

Next time you ride your bike down 92nd, stop and take a look at the northeast corner of the park. Walker Stadium is nowhere near being a prize facility let alone a sylvan paradise. It is easy to visualize the added uses that a new facility could bring.

It is my hope that the WHOLE neighborhood as well as the taxpayers are allowed to voice their concerns.

There are some folks in Lents who don't want the Beavers ballpark; you won't see them in any newspaper articles about the topic.

It seems that a lot of people are speaking "for" the neighborhood rather than "to" the neighborhood. And gosh, there are a lot of fingers in this pie!

The prospective stadium has already created a pocket full of "consultant" jobs, so take that naysayers. Consultants have to meet in restaurants. Then they can expense lunch/dinner/drinks so there you go with the trickle down economics.

"It is more like Parks (the lessor) helping a tenant finance the neccesary improvments needed to get better use from an existing facility"

Any of this help schools or reducing water/sewer rates? As long as your ox isn't gored, fine - Let's have a BBQ on everyone else's oxen.

Ms. Contrarian, there have been bi-weekly neighborhood meetings going on since this summer. They're open to anyone who wants to come and any input is welcome.

The news papers have been reporting skeptical points of view as well. What I think you're noticing is that so far, there's just a smattering of skepticism, and no outright opposition being expessed in the neighborhood. The only vehement oposition I've heard, so far is from people that rarely venture east of Lloyd Center.

The opposition may not be organized or bankrolled, but I have heard Lents residents who are opposed to it. And I would think that others have as well.

It's hard for my family to agree on dinner some nights, but we're supposed to believe that an entire neighborhood is in agreement on this use of municipal dollars?

That's my problem, the pro-ballpark folks have money, consultants, strategists, and neighborhood officials behind them.

Who backs up the elderly lady (a lifelong resident) who told me that she and her friends are opposed to it?

If Paulson and company want it, let them pay for it. These are lean times.

This idea is like the Eastside Esplanade.
It will cost many tens of millions and leave the rest of the Eastide parks and school yards in perpetual disrepair.

Is there any doubt the eastide taxpayers, families and school yard and parks users could have benefitted far more if the Esplanande $50 million had been used to clean up and modernize the many parks and school yards throughout their communities?

This trend of BIG ideas while the everyday get neglected must end.

This $85 million could be used far better in the neighborhodds throughout the Eastside where stakeholders are forever
awaiting the right time and revenue for making long deferred improvements.

I'd like to see the day when Portland could brag about having the nicest parks and school yards in the country instead of lauding a floating sidewalk while the community languishes in medeocrite.

This project would primarily bond stadium revenues. If the stadium is mor built, those bonds and that revenue does not exist. Other than utilizing URA bonds that would otherwise be spent on leveraging other private development, no funds would be diverted from any other projects. That's just a basic of finance.

that should read not built

Clumsy PDA fingers

Is No Fool, do you know how much TIF dollars that would be replaced by the stadium project? Probably none because most or all of it would be public owned, so no property taxes to pay back the debt. But give us a true figure since you know so much about the project.

You say "no funds would be diverted from any other projects". I think you know that is false. Urban Renewal dollars steal dollars from other government entities, like Multnomah Co., fire districts, school districts, etc.

CoP has only retired one urban renewal district in over 50 years of UR history, and continues eleven of them. And Sam wants to start another in NW Portland near NW Vaughn.

Your purposeful misinformation is not useful to the discussion.

OK, let's put a resolution on the next ballot and ask the voters of Portland if they want even one square foot of Park land paved and given away to fat cat developers for private, for-profit use only 70-something out of 365 days and otherwise sit cold and empty while displacing wholesome community activities. Let's ask them exactly how many of their tax dollars they want used on yet another big monument that everyone but the pols knows will be a stinker and sinker that will suck the wind out of the local economy, and divert resources from true needs like education and infrastructure.

Double dare you.

Jerry, any TIF money for this ballpark would come from bonding capacity that has already been approved. The county and PPS both supported adding addition capacity to the Lents URA. And, PPS could make money off the ballpark project through parking revenue.

Arbitrash, this is not about giving property to private entities wholesale. Merritt Paulson will not own the property. In fact, the improved facility will be available to the high school, the adult leagues and the little league among other public and cultural activites .. And the city will earn revenue from it's use. In effect, more use is being added by redeveloping the dilapadated facility that is currently on the site.

Is No Fool:

Even though you supposedly sit on the Lents URA Committee, I am wondering if you understand the TIF dollar matrix. My point has been whether and how much this ballpark will contribute to paying off the $80 Million dollar ballpark costs and how much of it is TIF dollars. If it's on park land, and if all or percentage of ballpark facilities is public what is the TIF dollars that will be paid back in tax dollars for the bonds? Park land doesn't pay property taxes nor any of the facilities on park land. What are the proposed legal arrangements? Do you know?

And don't forget that non-profits like Little Leagues don't pay property taxes. Also, how do you pay for the $80 Million debt with parking fees? Realistic Parking fees don't even come close to paying even the interest on $80 Million.

These so called "fine points" are relevant to the taxpayers of Portland, beside the nearby property owners like you.


I understand funding formulas and schemes better than most people.

The funding request for renovations to PGE and the new Beavers ballpark has not been put together yet, so I can not reference specific numbers.

Part of the money may come from a ticket tax. Part may come from other stadium revenues like parking. If the city takes the same route as they originally did with PGE park, paying property taxes on the new ballpark site should be part of the lease agreement for the Beavers.

What I object to is dismissing projects with the argument that the money would otherwise go to other funding needs. In most cases the money would not exist (as a resource for Portland) if the project did not exist.

TIF is an exception. But, in that case new money does not exist if you don't invest some of the old money. The county and the school districts are consulted whenever a URA is formed. They understand that sometimes you need to make an investment to generate future revenues and save on future costs.

There is lots of underdeveloped and dilapidated private property East of 52nd, such as down by the bowling alley. If this project is such a good idea, move it off the park and do it out of private funds on private property. Citizens have the right to prefer that their parks be preserved for their own use, not turned into venues for private enterprise.

An HCD grant -- our tax dollars at work -- redeveloped that corner of the park with a gazebo/band shell a couple of years ago, added a jogging path, and more. An extensive public process was conducted in the wind-up. Those facilities, and the free, open air concerts, ice cream socials, etc, that it hosts came out of a genuine redevelopment process.

This deal is all about making some people who don't need our help and have no real ties to this community richer via the issuance of public debt. This city has had enough of this kind of raid for many years.

The idea that this one will be the never-yet-seen exception that pays its own way and produces a net benefit to the community is a fairy tale.

Let it be done on private property, bought from willing sellers at market rates, in a location where the economic and social vacuum we know it will create can be accommodated, and 100% on the developers' dime.

Our schools are a disaster, and getting worse every day. Our bridges are falling down and our roads are crumbling. We do not need another hole in the civic boat.

Is No Fool:
County, school districts, fire districts, etc. have come to realize that urban renewal as now practiced in our region is not bringing revenue now or even the foreseeable future. Schools can't wait 30-40 years to see properties in URA being placed back on the tax rolls. The media has recently begun to report this phenomenon recently. How can a district pay back taxes if the district isn't discontinued?

Using PGE Park as an example of how a sports venue can pay back tax dollars borrowed is one of the worse examples you can cite. Taking $40 +Million in tax dollars for the first renovation and hardly paying down the debt disproves your point. Ticket tax and parking fees won't even make a scratch for the $80M Lents' bill. Try another explanation.

No one is dismissing an idea. But the idea should be vetted. People like Sam and Leonard are not great at looking at the fiscal numbers before they shoot. We've had enough proof this past decade of ideas that get built without due diligence. We are broke from poor judgement.


That's not what Jeff Cogen said when we were discussing the Lents plan amendment. I think he's got a better handle on the county's position than you do.

Secondly, the cost of building a new stadium in Lents will be between 25 and 45 million...not 80 million. 35-40 million of the proposed 85 million is for renovations to PGE park. Between the two venues, there definitely could be enough revenue to pay the bonds.

The idea is being heavily vetted and has been since the beginning of this year...and it's still going on.

Heavily vetted? Got a link to that? The "audit" I saw on the MLS2PDX site was a list of wishful thinking and calls for handouts. The team is sure to be a success if we are an average of the other teams in the league and if all the people who attended games paid for their ticket and if the tax subsidies currently going to the team continue and if we pass a bill in the legislature to redirect all state taxes on team employee salaries back to Paulson.

A quick rundown of what Merritt Paulson is getting with this deal:

He already is getting a $2.1 million per year subsidy from the people of Portland.

He wants something like $10 million from the State of Oregon to help fund the teams development plans.

He's resurrecting the old baseball stadium funding bill from a few years ago which stated that all income taxes paid by players and officials will be segregated and used to service bonds for stadium improvement costs.

He wants more money from the city in urban renewal money.

He wants the parking lot of a local high school. The high school gets to maintain ownership of the parking lot, and the maintenance bills.

It looks like Merritt Paulson isn't so much interested in the sports or the community. What he purchased was a public subsidy. With the cash subsidies from Portland and the State of Oregon, he may not need any revenue at all from ticket sales to make a huge profit.

We are taking out a loan and giving it to Merritt Paulson to develop his business, and then we are giving him money to pay us back.

Wasn't Sarah Palin "heavily vetted" by the Republicans?

Not so much.

Clicky Web Analytics