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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fish on Paulson stadiums deal: The timing doesn't seem right

Portland Commissioner Nick "the" Fish has responded to our post from the other day about the insanity of spending $100 million on baseball and soccer stadiums while the wheels are coming off the city's finances. He writes:

I'm a big soccer fan. As a proud soccer dad, I regularly attend University of Portland Pilots soccer games with my daughter. I think Major League Soccer would be a great fit for Portland.

Given the current state of the economy, however, I am concerned that Mr. Paulson's proposal relies on substantial public investment ($85 million dollars), including revenue bonds and tax increment financing.

In these tough times, when many Portlanders are facing home foreclosures and job loss, I believe the City needs to focus on maintaining basic services and taking care of our most vulnerable citizens.

I'm also concerned about potentially negative impacts of a new stadium on the livability of the Lents neighborhood. The proposed baseball stadium would require as many as 3,000 parking spaces and displace community amenities, including sports fields for baseball, football, softball and volleyball, as well as picnic areas and a covered concert space. The current proposal does not adequately address replacement of these essential community resources.

Sports franchises have not always enjoyed a stellar track record here in Portland. Despite optimistic revenue projections, the last PGE Park owner defaulted on its payments to the City. As a result, the City is still paying off $28 million in debt on the 2001 renovations.

I am eager to find a way to bring a new business like Major League Soccer to Portland. However, I am not yet convinced that now is the right time to invest scarce public dollars in new stadiums.

What's that I smell? Is it fresh air?

Comments (34)

Finally, some good news from the City Council. Thank you Commissioner Fish!

Actually someone that has and is using their brain on the council..... But I would bet "The Fish" just lost any and all support from Fireman Randy and Sam the Scoutmaster in the future....

I don't know; he seems to hedge a bit.

Memo to Nick:

It's okay to disagree with spending projects in the future - that's healthy debate in a transparent government.

But please, I'm begging you...Do not bring up past projects that defaulted. We are counting on the citizens to forget our old assurances so they will be more apt to buy the next load of B.S. Thank you.
signed...Mayor Creepy

This smacks more of "putting his finger in the wind" than any great display of financial prudence.

Gotta start somewhere, though.

Fish for MAYOR in 2009! Seriously.

If he puts the kabosh on the Convention Center Zombie Hotel, he's got my vote for Governor.

The worst mistake I have seen Portlanders make in my 30½ years here is when they voted for Sam Adams over Nick Fish for City Council a few years ago.

I was expecting to find a big "NOT!" at the bottom of that excerpt.

If Nick does vote this way, he guarantees I will work against him for anything he runs for ever again.

Short sighted knee-jerk naysaying has no place in my city.

BINGO !!!!

How does "MAYOR NICK FISH " sound

And Amanda Fritz, you didn't think (we the people ) could run this city without Sam Adams. That was a BIG mistake you made

Did Nick Fish write you before last Monday night, when Paulson and Blazers managers met with "city officials" to talk about putting the baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter? The "preliminary" estimated cost for a stadium in the Rose Quarter is $47-$50 million.

Commissioner Fish, I voted for you with much trepidation. But this expressed opinion, if you stick to it and firm it up with other issues involving taking care of the basics, will help lessen my fears. Thanks.

Please don't play politics with the few "wiggle-room" words you used because myself and many others are getting very fickle.

"I am not yet convinced that now is the right time to invest scarce public dollars in new stadiums."

We had 7 pretty good years for the economy since 2001 and we still couldn't pay off PGE Park.

When is a good time to take public money to build a playground for a private business? Dear god, at least build a free factory that employs some normal people if they want to blow money.

Bravo, Commish Fish!

Weird. It reads like some sort of radical manifesto.

I don't think you are reading this carefully enough. Fish is expressing reservation about the use of "scarce public dollars". But bond proceeds are plentiful and cheap.

Has anyone determined if MLS is still viable? Didn't I read that they are in financial trouble? I would hate to build a stadium and have the league go belly up before opening day!

I would hate to build a stadium and have the league go belly up before opening day!

Like South Waterfront.

I'm a huge soccer fan - I used to love going to Civic Stadium and seeing the legends like Pele as they neared retirement. The difference now is that you can watch world class soccer on TV. It's the one thing FOX does a superb job covering.

The pro soccer here in America is still lame. It just isn't a great draw for a real soccer fan. That's why David Beckham wants out of his gigantic contract with the Galaxy to go play for AC Milan. The quality here and the significance just isn't happening. It's so great seeing soccer from England, Argentina, Italy, Portugal, Brazil. There's a reason why Manchester United is the most valuable team in sports.

Soccer for an American like me can be tremendously dull at anything short of world class levels. However, if you get a chance to watch Manchester United live at 8 a.m, like last weekend, or the mind-boggling greatness of the recent Italy-Brazil World Cup qualifier, you are going to be watching TV rather than going to a local game here in the Lents district, etc...

Soccer in America still is lame, especially when you can watch the real thing on TV. This league is a loser, and building a new soccer stadium for it, borders on being a scam.

"borders on being a scam" -- ?????

Like V.I. Lenin bordered on being a Communist ...

Allan L; I reread as you suggested. Then I also reviewed the few positions Fish has taken since commissioner. I take back most of my above qualified remark-for now. There are too many outs just in Fish's latest media release. I still can't get over his "Sam remarks".

I guess I've been through too many years of hearing commissioners telling one group of people one thing and the exact opposite to another. What's worse, is that they think they haven't been hypocrites or lied.

You better hope the City votes in the MLS proposal or we might all be paying 3 mil a year for an empty PGE park. Also lets keep Lents felony flats not to mention the loss of jobs.

It's too bad Fish lost two elections before we finally put him on the council.

Reading between the lines, he could be saying "If you put it in the Rose Quarter and cut the city's tab to a mere $50 million, I might still go for it." But for now, let's bask in the glow of the correct side of Fish's statement: that the current proposal is a total stinker.

The city's Stadium Task force is taking the same stance. That stance being "let's figure out a way to do this that makes sense for Portland".

The city's process so far has been very transparent with the kind of healty scrutiny that Fish voices above. That's what we need out of our government.

That said, the majority of the task force is looking at the same data seems to see a way for investment in these opportunities to be a net positive for Portland that will return more money than it consumes. It's a buisness plan that will work if we can solve a few issues.

Lents might have issues, but this is more problem solving situation than an insurmountable problem. Maybe the Rose Quarter is the answer.

Anyway, it looks like this open public process will lead to a recommendation to investment in the stadiums and we should all be happy about this because people like Fish are asking the hard questions.


Hey, how about the US Mexico game last Wednesday?

Italy-Brazil was not a World Cup Qualifier.

There have been a bunch of WC qualifiers on. Maybe I got confused. But did you see the new kid from Brazil...Rubinho, or some name like that? Did you see him dribble around before that goal? Ridiculous!!

Look, I don't want to be a soccer snob here. I'm not. I've watched British soccer all my life since I was a kid in Arabia. When the US team plays we do well sometimes. I remember one player who grew up in England on our team and he had the flair.

It's almost a language thing. We speak soccer with an American accent like a blues band from Russia.

If I lived in Europe, I'd watch the NFL games from the United States.

One other thing: It's great seeing the club games with the mixtures of international players, followed by the World Cup where they're on their home teams.

It's more fun knowing some of the players, before the World Cup starts...seeing Christiano Renaldo back in Portugal, etc...

Did you see Giggs's goal this past weekend for MU? The old pro.
I've actually met him and talked with him one time.

The day Liverpool has an NFL team as good as the Pittsburgh Steelers is the day I'll watch the league here. And even then, it will never mean as much to the fans. Huge stadiums singing at the top of their lungs like their parents and grandparents before them.

Here's a nice example of trying to move the goalposts towards your own side:

That said, the majority of the task force is looking at the same data seems to see a way for investment in these opportunities to be a net positive for Portland that will return more money than it consumes. It's a buisness plan that will work if we can solve a few issues.

Excuse me, but if you torture the numbers enough, they will confess to anything. "Returning more money than it consumes" is a BS criterion. Because it's all projections -- SWAGs dressed up as rigorous analysis.

The true test is experience, and if you look at study after study (see for links) you will see that projected returns from stadium projects are crap.

The confirmation that this is lemon socialism (the public gets to take the losses, while the masters of the universe and their spoiled spawn get to take any profits that might occur) is that Little Lord Paulson demands the city's money first and says he can't proceed without it. In other words, the people who live by making deals that work have all passed on this opportunity, because there is no opportunity here -- just milking the subsidy cow.

These people should be studying the French Revolution pretty carefully.

If the city fathers are serious about a Rose Quarter stadium, I hope the deal includes the Blanchard Building, headquarters for Portland Public Schools. The Blazers/Paulson deal should include this property (by purchase or a gift by PPS) and PPS should be given a cut of profits from the Blazers/Paulson venture. This is probably the only way that the Mayor can make good on his pledge to reduce the dropout rate and may be the only way to keep our public schools alive: another revenue stream. Details later ala Geithner.

Good. I can't believe we have to sink so low to find common sense, but good.

Nick would have my vote for mayor any time if he keeps it up.

Good. I can't believe we have to sink so low to find common sense, but good.

Nick would have my vote for mayor any time if he keeps it up.


I think if he were to call for Adams' resignation in council, he'd be mayor by acclamation.

Off with their heads!

I'd like to See Nick Fish replace Adams just to piss off Leonard.

Commish Leonard is so busy licking the mayor's boots, I'm not sure he would notice if the feet inside them changed.

If the new guy was as good a horse trader as the current mayor, the Fireman wouldn't even notice the shoe polish tasted different.

That said, hr would be unlikely to let any incumbent commissioner run for Mayor without going full Francesconi himself (with similar results).


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