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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Paulson stadiums deal is still "$20 million to $40 million" short

All the more reason to go for it in our dysfunctional town, I suppose. If you haven't completely given up on Portland "leadership" yet, this might just send you over the edge.

While we're out collecting signatures to recall the mayor -- or as a warmup for that effort -- maybe we ought to force this bond issue onto the ballot, too.

Comments (21)

"urges the City Council to identify a source for the money that does not require higher taxes or cuts in existing agency budgets."

Who the heck is on this advisory committee? They seem to forget the tax payer needs to whip out the credit card to pay for this.

Gee whiz, Paulson is going to give us 330 jobs (hotdog vendors or ticket takers) for something north of $85M. So using real world numbers of $100M, these jobs will only cost us $300K a piece.

I guess I should be happy that it's not the father pushing this deal.

I love it when local soccer supporters talk about the love for the Timbers as proof this is a good idea. I wonder what would happen in a small city in England if some big-shot rolled into town with a plan to throw the beloved local football lads under the bus.

Since this advisory committee is still meeting they should consider a few more refinements. Items:

"5. ... viable for the long term" should be
identified. "Long time for any public investment like this should be at least 20 years to 30 years, at least for the terms of the bonds. "long term" is a very wiggly room for attorneys or politicians.

On item 6, urban renewal, Shortstop LLC should have to prove and bear all costs in doing so that this area is "blighted". It is likely to be challenged in the courts and all costs should be theirs. My personal feeling is that it isn't blighted with light rail, MacClub, the new Burnside Housing complex next door, the Kings Heights Neighborhood, and many other new, newer buildings nearby.

Then after these added conditions from the advisory committee, the City Council should decline to proceed because of the shortfalls and economic times. This too has a potential to become a ballot issue.

I have been writing letters about this issue since September, and have yet to receive a reply from ANYONE (City council, mayor, newspaper columnists). This leads me to believe that the city considers it a "done deal". Besides the fact that the supposed ticket buyers no longer have enough disposable income to spend on sports tickets, I am outraged at the thought of dropping a baseball stadium in the middle of a residential neighborhood just because someone with millions falling out of his pockets thinks that it is expendable. The early articles called Lents "felony flats", remember? If it's depressed, they figure, no one will care. All the families nearby WILL be impacted by noise, traffic, late-night lights (double headers)-- most housing in Lents will drop in value. Who would want to live a block from a baseball stadium? This should be voted on! Can we start a petition? This is not the time for Portland to gamble that Paulson's numbers will work out. Portland will still have the bond to worry about, no matter how much Paulson puts up. Incidentally, an explanation of my sign-in: it's borrowed from Erma Bombeck and expresses ideals the city might well consider. F=frugal,R=responsible,U=unpretentious,M=Mature P=person

It really does sound like a bad episode of Mayberry, RFD, doesn't it?

This week's guest-star is the son of a big-time investment guy last seen destroying the economy of America. He rolls into town and bamboozles the local yokels with a low-grade scam that would have been rejected in 5 minutes by a high school student council. Even Aunt Bea and Floyd the Barber are impressed.

Of course, the local politicians are thrilled. They're wowed by this guy and flattered to be connected in some way to the bigger scams back East. They'll do everything they can to grease this ridiculous project through.

The only difference? There's no Sheriff Andy Taylor to figure it out and run the guest-star out of town.

Let's see if I've got the math right.

$300K per job + one refurbished stadium + one small-scale new stadium + 15 months of quality construction jobs + high quality soccer entertaining tens of thousands each summer + increased tourism + a higher international profile for the city.

Steve's right: This pencils out pretty darn well ...

The same people selling the latest program (Vera Katz, Sam Adams, Don Mazziotti) said the same things with PGE Park. None of it happened except the construction jobs, and big profits for a contractor. The city's still paying off around $28 million of debt on that and the stupid Convention Center expansion, which was the same dismal failure.

If you want construction jobs, let's build or rehab something the city really needs. Two more minor league stadiums aren't it.

We already have soccer and baseball entertaining tens of thousands. We don't need to spend $100 million to entertain a few more thousands.

And if you think tourists are coming here to watch MLS, too many thirsty Thursdays may have rotted your brain.

Versus how many jobs are lost by removing that money from the same local economy that you are putting it back into?

Don't put that pencil down too fast.

Uh, Roger . . . how long have you lived here? Other than the stadium work, none of the things you're talking about are going to happen; they're just pipe dreams. People who have lived here longer than Merritt Paulson, who's lived here for what? about two years, know this. You guys are in the wrong city, and definitely at the wrong time. Years from now, and it won't be all that many years, this project will be known as "Paulson's Folly."

I disagree: Paulson's Folly should be when Henry Paulson was head of Goldman Sachs and urged the SEC to abolish the Net Capital Rule.

Roger, we just sank 150 billion into AIG, and now they want more. AIG has an endorsement deal with Manchester United. Can't you be content knowing that as a taxpayer, you're already losing your shirt as part of Barclay's Premier League soccer?

There's no need to lose more. MLS is a big step down for you.

I disagree as well. Paulson's Folly is when Papa Paulson threw TARP money at banks and other financial institutions with abandon but let Lehman fail.

Roger, I agree with you. Your math is impeccable. And just to show that I'm completely behind you, I'm going to pay for half of the stadium. Now if I can just find a market for all of the leprechaun armpit hair and unicorn droppings I'm going to use as collateral.

Seriously, dude, you know that old saw about some ideas being so stupid that only an intellectual would fall for it. Well, some business proposals are so dumb that even an MBA from Southern Methodist University would wake up from a coke haze and say "Wait a minute...", and your math is at the top of the list.

I trust you know most of my comments are in fun.

I want to go back to your point that this plan would give us, "a higher international profile for the city."

They used to say the tram would be an iconic tourist attraction similar to the Eiffel Tower, and every word they said turned out to be correct.

In fact, I'm not sure how much more of the international limelight we can take.

The fact that the City is even considering this idea given the current financial situation makes me want to puke. When folks are banging down the doors to PGE Park to see the Timbers, after years of consecutive sellouts, then, and only then, should the City consider public investment in sports. This is a complete embarrassment - where is the accountability? Where is the sound decision making? Where is the "NO!"?

If Paulson and his crew are so 'confident' of the soundness of the investment - he and his group should put up all the money.

"how many jobs are lost by removing that money from the same local economy that you are putting it back into?"


Or if you want to get creative, heck, lets build Intel a plant in N Portland for $100M, then they can fill it with 5000 real jobs with good pay, benefits and add a lot more to the tax base?

Or let's put up a $100 million subsidy to bring a PROFITABLE photovoltaic cell manufacturer to Portland (like First Solar). Those jobs will pay higher wages than food vendors and janitors AND put us on the map for a truly global achievement.

"Now if I can just find a market for all of the leprechaun armpit hair and unicorn droppings I'm going to use as collateral."

I love this phrase.

Police and Fire pensions will be on the chopping block one way or another in the future, which is why it's strange that Randy Leonard thinks there's room for the cute protections he emphasizes in this deal.

There will not always be public support for police or firefighters, or their pensions, and as soon as the stars align so that there is a legal opportunity to renegotiate the pensions, it will be impossible to keep the pots of money and obligations separate like Randy is trying to do with this soccer deal.

Sounds like Randy is getting advice from clever people, perhaps people who helped him bust up the PDC, who think they know how to navigate the gully they're in, but who don't see the rest of the forest.

I hope Randy seeks other opinions, if only to preserve the fire pension. IMHO, Isaac L. would be a good start.

Do not forget that Mayor Katz with Sam Adams as senior advisor on the first Civic Stadium remodeling Agreement said five years ago that the taxpayers of Portland "are protected, we have a tight Agreement". We still are holding the bag on $29 Million in debt after assurance of protection.

Talk of the ridiculous. His numbers aren't even in the ballpark.

It really does sound like a bad episode of Mayberry, RFD, doesn't it?

Was there ever a GOOD episode of Mayberry, RFD?

The show took a major step down once Barney Fife moved to Raleigh and Opie hit puberty. Changing the broadcast to color didn't help either...

How can there be living wage jobs for a soccer stadium with what, 15-20 matches a year? A baseball stadium with, maybe 60 or so home games? And, I would argue it's not sustainable to build/refurbish a stadium that is used so infrequently. (No one has mentioned what happens to Portland State and high school football games.) At least with the current PGE park, there's a mix of events that keeps the stadium busy most nights in the summer, and quite a few in the spring and fall.

So the math may be closer, if vendors, janitors, et. al work around 500 hours a year, to 1.2 million per job.

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