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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"At some point it doesn't make sense"

Indeed, Little Lord Paulson, and that point has already been reached. Please pack up your carpetbag and return to the Hamptons. And if you could take Fireman Pele, Mayor Creepy, and Storm Large with you, at least as far as Greenwich Village, that would be greatly appreciated.

Comments (34)

""I'm doing more than I envisioned," he said, referring to the "personal guarantees" and "private capital" he's been asked to contribute."

That's code for: I'll screw the taxpayers over a longer period and be gone before Randy gets a clue to the smoke screen.

I'm only hoping that CoP comes to its senses when this hot potato ends in their lap instead of killing it. This is the same process as the CC Hotel. These guys are so brave.

Thank god, Saint Paulson is here to save us and give the illeterate somewher to take the streetcar to on about 10 sunny afternoons.

Let us hope that this MLS nonsnese 'will not make sense' for much longer!
Begone...Mr. Henry Merritt Paulson III!

When was the City protected? Not on PGE park or the tram. Protect basic services? If they spend money on a ball park then say, oh! We don't have any money left so we'll cut police, fire and the library. I guess we'll have to do a special levy to cover those basic services.

I'm plagarizing here, I know, but somebody already said it best:

Just say no.

The same quote leapt out a me when I read it in The Oregonian.

The problem is that our Mayor and City Council are naive when it comes to making business deals, or maybe they think they're not in a position to make demands when people come to them proposing projects for which the City is asked to take on all of the risk.

Consider the OHSU venture in Florida. Florida agreed to pay $60 million in startup costs and there is also $57.8 million in local money for tax breaks and infrastructure. In return, OHSU VGTI Florida agreed to a performance contract: it must have 6 employees in the first two years, 30 in the third year, and 200 in the 10th year. If VGTI Florida fails to meet its performance marks, it has to repay some of the incentive money. [At some time I'd like to know where it plans to get the money for repayment from.]

I don't suppose that CoP had the foresight to put similar requirements in the agreement it made with OHSU for SoWhat and the Tram. It should have the foresight now to require the MLS project to pay its way by performance or repayment.

Hey! What do you have against Storm Large?

"The task force recommendation leans heavily on caution."

I wouldn't use the phrase "leans heavily on" in a story about funding. Why bring up the bad memories?

Hey! What do you have against Greenwich Village?

How being a loser on a short-lived reality show earns one the celebrity afforded to Storm Large is beyond me.

A question:

Portland has a reputation for being unfriendly to business. At this point, the city has piled on so many requirements as to guarantee failure. Is that wise public policy? Is this a message the city truly wants to send?

"At this point, the city has piled on so many requirements as to guarantee failure. Is that wise public policy?"

How about the city sticking to its knitting and not pick winners and losers when it knows nothing about making a profit? Like making it a minimum cost for businesses to start up using THEIR OWN (i.e. the business') money? This means unpiling a lot of the nonsense they push down small business owner's throats.

Or if you really think throwing $100M to build two stadia is a great idea contrast that with spending $100M on building Intel a plant in North Portland in terms of jobs generated?

"At this point, the city has piled on so many requirements as to guarantee failure. Is that wise public policy?"

In this particular case, yes.

Now that the county has asked the city for $100 million to help with funding for a new Sellwood Bridge, Paulson's proposal should be voted down immediately.

Fish for Mayor!

@ Roger: If you don't want city requirements to limit your business planning, don't ask for the city money. Simple, yes?

Portland has a much more pressing issue than how to funnel money into the pockets of sports barons:

Portland has a reputation for being unfriendly to business.


"Portland has a much more pressing issue than how to funnel money into the pockets of sports barons:"

Careful, you'r touching something near and dear to Randy's heart - Public pension scams a la PFDR.

You really need to let him work his financial wizardry on ballparks. Say what you will, but $100M blown is a lot better than $4B and counting liabilities in pensions.

It looks like Urban Renewal funds may not be available for Paulson's Folly after all, according to Nigel Jaquiss writing in today's Willamette Week.

Roger Paulson, The city would be betting a minimum value of $440 Million compared to Shortstop LLC of $40 Million for the proposed deal:

$80M-for PGE remodel, new ball park; $20M-cost overruns; $15M- existing PGE Park facility/land; $75M-Lents or Rose Garden land. And this doesn't even include CoP's administrative costs, debt costs, attorneys, etc.

Don't you think a lender in Vegas with with these kinds of odds would have some "conditions" with $440 to $40 spread? Like your first born?

Roger, sorry, I didn't include the $250M in existing PGE Park land/facility value in the above.

Sorry again, Roger; the $15M in first post was for the possible urban renewal dollars and not the PGE Park facility/land.

Someone else said it, but dude, what do you have against Storm?!

Forgive me for sounding unpatriotic but I often check newspapers outside America to get a different take on the news. So I read an article in the Toronto Sun about David Beckham's nasty divorce with MLS. Keep in mind, one of the selling points is the additional respect we'll get internationally if we go for this plan. Let me know if you sense that kicking in with this piece:

"Only Beckham gets what he wants. MLS gets gut shot. This isn't just bad news for the league. It's a delayed death sentence. It may take years of decline – there are a lot of very rich people invested in this league right now – but it's a straight line from right now, from this failure, to the funeral."

Incidentally, Beckham will finish the season in Italy and come back halfway through the MLS season. Then he opts out and splits. Now, some of the attendance figures used to sell this plan have been based on Beckham as an added draw. The club in Kansas even moved a match to a stadium to cash in on his star power.
So I assume the rosy attendance figures will be ramped back down to reflect that Beckham is bailing out as quickly as he can.
Oh, one last question? Why is he going? Could it be that he missed playing in soccer games that matter?

Okay Bill, I'll bite. First of all, link to your sources or those quotes don't mean much.

>So I read an article in the Toronto Sun about David Beckham's nasty divorce with MLS.

He wants out, yes. But he's been very straightforward about it, not sure what is "nasty" about it, but without having access to the story you reference I can't be sure.

>Keep in mind, one of the selling points is the additional respect we'll get internationally if we go for this plan.


>"This isn't just bad news for the league. It's a delayed death sentence. It may take years of decline – there are a lot of very rich people invested in this league right now – but it's a straight line from right now, from this failure, to the funeral."

I've never heard that Beckham leaving MLS is a killer for the league, but again, w/o being about to read the article you reference it's hard to know the justification for that statement.

>Now, some of the attendance figures used to sell this plan have been based on Beckham as an added draw.

Not that I've seen. Attendance figures for the current USL Timbers have been used, as they surpass the attendance of the average MLS regular season game.

>Oh, one last question? Why is he going? Could it be that he missed playing in soccer games that matter?

I've only read a couple articles on about this, and even I know that Beckham is looking to stay in the spotlight for his national team hopes. He hopes to play for England and being a part of AC Milan is better for that goal than the MLS. AC Milan is one of the most successful soccer clubs in the world, no comparision to an MLS team in terms of exposure.

I totally understand that the finances don't make sense on this deal but I'm confused why virulent diatribes on the sport itself, the league and it's players are so common when discussing the issue.

it's been proven and recorded time and again: sports stadiums in America NEVER result in meaningful, long-term economic benefit for a city. look into it. City Council members know this fact very well, though they might publicly hedge about it.

sport stadiums ALWAYS result in economic benefit for a handful--and those are always the folks (like Paulson) asking for the public to share the risk--but little of the reward.

kind of like when teachers and schools get no increased benefit in boom times, but are one of the first asked to cut and "work for free" when times are tough.

in other words, what sports stadiums *really* are is this: a vanity project. always have been. they're for the ego.

I'm basing the international prestige bit on the discussions here on this blog. We have had many exchanges with a commenter named Roger who deserves to be hired as official spokesman if this plan happens.
The article was from the March 3rd Toronto Sun. It's called "Bolting Becks Deadly For MLS". Here's another taste:

"The league will go forward. Markets like Washington and Toronto will continue to enjoy the sort of contained fervour that MLS calls success. But the struggling ones will quickly hit the skids. The citizens of Dallas and Denver and Kansas City will stop pretending to care. So, shortly thereafter, will ESPN. Any sort of national presence is effectively gone. MLS is strictly regional from here on in.

MLS did what it could. It hired the world's best pitchman. He came here, looked around and decided that the product wasn't worth his time. That puts the league, Toronto FC and hundreds of thousands of fans on notice that, barring a stroke of genius, the slow unravelling of Major League Soccer has begun."

The specific numbers of attendance that have been based on Beckham are from Kansas where they reported an average attendance that was more than the capacity of their facility. The difference came from the one match where they moved to Arrowhead Stadium because Beckham was in town. You have to assume he was a draw just as Pele was when he came here back in the day with NASL. You remember that league, don't you? It folded.

I hope you don't include me in the virulent diatribes against the sport. I love the sport. I watch it on TV from Europe and South America. I don't watch MLS games because I love great soccer.

You mention that you've never read anything suggesting Beckham's departure as the death knell of MLS. Neither had I. I was just searching the Net for a bigger perspective than the local Oregonian Happy Talk and what might not be the whole story from ESPN. That's when I stumbled on this. I noted a stark contrast with what I've been hearing in town.

Perhaps we've been sold an image of this that the rest of the world doesn't complete share. You know that's happened before, right?

I didn't include the name of the author: Cathal Kelly and by Kansas I meant Kansas City, Missouri where the MLS team is called the Wizards.

Dave Lister, if you are among the commentators here, cudoes on the awesome editorial in today's OREGONIAN.

"History suggests we kick the soccer deal"
Metro, Pg. 5

Sometime, if it hasn't already happened on this blog, maybe we can have a discussion about why Portland should (or should not) become a "World Class City" and what a "World Class City" is.

The Outsiders keep saying that Portland could be a WCC if only it had a major league sports team. Besides disrespecting our city, why do they think they should or can impose their values on Portland?

It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. - F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

speaking of cities:

"having no identity of its own, a city will seek to find one elsewhere, outside--from anywhere but within. It turns its face outward, not inward.

and when that moment arrives, the city is lost to itself and becomes something entirely different: a placeless, neurotic warehouse of desires.

little more, in fact, than a place to manufacture, stage, and consume spectacles for the desperate amusement of a overstimulated, overindulgent crowd so certain that *it alone* has finally the answer that it cannot see its own destruction masked in a smiling, smirking hubris. it is in utter slavery to the childish, the transient, the superficial. its story becomes a story of dress-up dolls, casual addictions and eternal, youth-fueled denial of the cycle of life."

Wow, where is that one from? I'd like to read the whole thing.

I suppose professional soccer could go on to be a tremendous financial success here in America. I mean after all, we introduced our football to Europe with the NFL: Europa league and that's doing great. Oh wait, it folded. Never mind.

I was watching one of the excellent soccer shows and they did a profile on Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo. Do you how old he was when he said goodbye to his family and left home to start his soccer career? Eleven.
They care more about the Beautiful Game over there than we do here, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Bill, just to clarify for the rest of the readers (those left anyway) Mr. Kelly is an opinion column writer, it is not a news article. Which makes the tone a lot easier to understand.

>You have to assume he was a draw just as Pele was when he came here back in the day with NASL. You remember that league, don't you? It folded.

I think you are digging yourself in a little deeper here instead of the other way around. There are myriad reasons why NASL folded and the MLS is basically run as the anti-NASL because of it's implosion.

> I don't watch MLS games because I love great soccer.

I hear this a lot, and while I understand that MLS is not Series A, I am disappointed by US soccer fans that don't want to see the sport take hold and develop in their own country. Some of the soccer clubs in Europe are older than our nation. Part of the reason NASL failed was trying to create a top-shelf league overnight.

I don't think you have to support the domestic league to love soccer, but I do think you should not actively tear it down with snarky comments.

>Perhaps we've been sold an image of this that the rest of the world doesn't complete share. You know that's happened before, right?

Of course MLS is going to put it's best foot forward when courting expansion. I just don't see the cause for moral outrage. They are a successful, growing league by any metric I can think of... steady year over year growth in teams, attendance, merchandising, TV deals, corp sponsorship, etc.

Oops! I meant, it looks like the proposed marriage may be off.

Here are the juicy details.

I am so tempted to praise Randy, but I think I'll wait to see the final score first.


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