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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 12, 2009 9:52 AM. The previous post in this blog was Job security. The next post in this blog is Budget crisis? What budget crisis?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

City to Paul Allen: Don't bother us

When Paul Allen asked the City of Portland to bail out his mortgage on the Rose Garden arena a while back, then-Mayor Grampy showed him the City Hall door. "No city money available for rich guys' sports teams," he was told.

Imagine how displeased Allen must be now, to find out that there is plenty of city money -- property tax money -- to stick him with an unwanted minor league baseball stadium as his next-door neighbor. For a different rich guy. Without so much as a courtesy warning before the news suddenly broke in the media.

It's easy to villainize Allen -- heaven knows this blog has done so more than once -- but at a certain point, it's a good idea to stop taunting Goliath. We suspect we haven't heard the end of this from him or from the NBA. A Paulson-Allen slap fight could be in the offing. Now, that would be worth $50 for a seat to watch, and another $9.50 for the beer to go with it.

Comments (28)

I will be furious if this somehow leads to Allen moving his team to Seattle. This city is messed up. Thanks for letting me vent my impotent rage.

I think the two situations are a little different.

- First, the Rose Garden arena is owned by Allen. From my understanding, if the MLS deal goes through, the City of Portland would own both PGE Park (configured for "rectangular sports" - soccer/PSU foootball) and the new baseball-only park.

- Second, and this is only from my less-than-perfect recollection, but I believe that the City used around $30-40 million in bonds to help build the Rose Garden/Rose Quarter. I think they were paid back through parking and ticketing taxes, similar to the MLS plan, although I'm not sure if they have been completely paid back by now or if they are still being paid off.

So Allen got $$ from Portland, too. Nothing for him to be jealous of. I don't think we have to worry about him moving to Seattle.

For Allen, I think the real displeasure will be that the City is giving some other rich guy (though not rich in Paul's class, let's note) money to do something with the land directly adjacent to Paul's. I'm sure that Paul has ideas about stuff he'd like to do with that property, and it doesn't include building a baseball stadium there.

No, the $34 M of taxpayer money has not been paid back for the Rose Garden/Rose Quarter.

Like Paniscus, remember there is a bigger city without a NBA franchise 90 minutes north.

I think moving the Blazers to Seattle was in his plans all along. This will only seal it.

I don't know why people are so paranoid about Allen moving to Seattle. I really can't see it happening.

- He owns the Rose Garden, and without a basketball team that's a $300 million investment without a main tenant.
- Blazers have over 50 straight sellouts with no slowdown in sight. Many NBA teams would give anything for that.
- The Blazers have a rabid fan base willing to spend plenty of money on tickets and merchandise
- The Rose Garden is a far better arena than Seattle's arena, and the city and state have shown that they are not willing to spend money to upgrade it
- In Portland there is no winter sports competition from any major league team.
- Currently the Blazers control the NBA media market for Seattle and Portland, so they get money from the companies and advertisers in both markets

Allen doesn't have to actually move the Blazers to get extortions errrr concessions out of the council. I expect to see Allen make the move idea public during the playoffs.

You've got to think like a billionaire. Here you own a team and you're always having to schlepp all the way down to Portland just to watch it.
You don't even have the good old days when the team would come to your town a couple of times a year and you'd have them over at the mansion. Remember when? The yellow hummer rolling back to Portland at 80 mph with the cloud of pot smoke pouring out. Scheed in the house?
What happens when you own a team and suddenly they're even fun to have around?
I hope it doesn't happen but we don't need our Trump Juniors in the city council trying to make it happen.

The cruelest irony here is that this comes close on the heels of the Blazers announcing just 10 days ago their plans to build out/develop the Rose Quarter with a 24/7/365 entertainment lifestyle center, ala LA Live at Staples and Kansas City Live. Private investment...private dollars. Economic development to, once and for all add, life to what has been a dead zone if the Blazers aren't playing.

COP wouldn't recognize private investment economic development like this if it were injected into their veins. They're immune to seizing the opportunity. Clueless, hapless, pathetic idiot amateurs all.

Well, I'm old enough to remember that there used to be a full complement of restaurants and bars down at the Rose Quarter when the place first opened, which one by one disappeared (due both to exorbitant pricing and location) so I'll believe this entertainment lifestyle center when I see it.

As for the effect of building in/near the Rose Quarter, I seem to recall that Paul Allen bought the run-down Red Lion Motor Inn that was on the east bank of the Willamette, just west of the Coliseum.

That motel was ultimately razed and (I think) it's the current storage area for equipment related to the "big dig."

Should the Rose Quarter undergo a revitalization (was it ever "vital" in the first place?), it would certainly improve the value of Allen's swath of riparian property.

Since Portland is going down the toilet anyway, albeit a composting solar powered one, it's time to just take off the white gloves and put on the latex ones and be the dirty little town we all know we really are. Open up the Rose Quarter entertainment zone to real Las Vegas style, Sodom and Gomorrah scale ENTERTAINMENT! Lots of Neon, trailblazer girls and pony shows. Large donations to the Portland Police Officers Retirement fund to make them look the other way and just go down in flames. You really think wind farms and solar energy is going to carry us through the next depression?

You really think wind farms and solar energy is going to carry us through the next depression?

no, but according to Adams and Leonard, soccer will. which we will go to by Streetcar and Tram. from our condo in the South Waterfront. after we get off work at the biotech firm. and pick up our kids, who're out of school because it closed early--no funds. after the game, we're off to window shop the Pearl District--without the kids, of course. then, a nightcap over in the Rose Quarter--I hear it's a real party after 9pm or so.

Ecohuman you are thinking to "eco-logical". I'm talking get down and dirty Thailand style debauchery. Imagine this you are a middle aged wealthy banker from New York fat on TARP funds and ready to spread it around. You hop on a plane to Portland, ride the Max(imum) line or "Night Train" to Rose Quarter where you catch a show or a ball game, get loaded then hop on a street car manned by half-naked Tri-met fare inspectors wearing Leather Nazi outfits who take you to "The Waterfront" There you can pick your poison in the John's Ross Condominium for an hour or all night of naughty. Bottom floor 500 sq. foot "cribs" with the skanky ho's or all the way to the Penthouse suite for the high priced Call Girl and the Mt. Hood view. Now that will get this town out of debt and on the map and it's all earth friendly. Come on don't be a sex negative from Nowheresville. Tell them Sam sent you for an extra 50.00 off coupon in The BIG O(regonian).

Oh, I forgot the best part. If you find yourself with "one lasting 4 hours" you are just a couple of minutes away from OHSU emergency room riding the trams which we have renamed Viagra and Cialis. Its a win win for everybody.

The part of this that I will never forget is Randy pontificating condescendingly to those of us who think education, streets, parks, mental health care, etc are more important than stadiums for rich guys who own sports teams, especially the part where he compared himself to FDR.

On some quiet never-spoken personal level, it's obvious that Paul Allen at least has the grace of character to realize he's a nerdy pothead who hit the jackpot of the century.

Randy's been taken up to the owner's box to be wined and dined by the owner and a team of his sharks, and thinks he coached a team into the world series.

Nick Fish spoke well about what makes a great city before casting his "no" vote.

By the way, if Memorial Coliseum is torn down, where will the Winterhawks play? I missed the story on the evening news.

They'll play at Lloyd Center. Thanks Sam and Randy.

That's what they get for not fielding a 'Winterhawks Army'...

If they were paying attention, they could still hire Tonya to make Dan an offer he couldn't refuse.

I read a lot of coverage yesterday about how the billionaire would react to the millionaire over this soccer deal. Finally I had to get back to earth with a slice of reality.
It took the form of a slice of pizza over on Belmont. Carl, the owner of "It's a Beautiful Pizza", was hard at work trying to keep his business going, so I asked him how he felt about the city throwing this much money at rich people. He said, "You can't even watch the news anymore."

See, Carl attended a different city council meeting a few years back. He had moved his business across the street and for doing that the city charged him $36,000. He worked with Sam Adams and Sam's boss Mayor Katz to try and get it changed, and that led to Carl's appearance before the council where she cut him off after 5 minutes. The commissioners all said the amount was unfortunate and sorry it had to be that way, but they all still voted for him to have to pay the 36 grand.

Fortunately, the whole thing ended up on the front page of the Oregonian and the resulting media storm forced our city leaders to reduce the bill to around 8 grand.
That's 8 grand to cross Belmont to a place that has less actual seats than his old location - now the Blue Monk.

I asked Carl how he kept the anger from getting to him back then - and now for that matter - when he watches our city council finagling a way to help smooth-talking rich kids with what will probably turn out to be a couple hundred million when all the interest, etc...is paid. He smiled a painful smile and said, "I just breathe." By the way, he's still paying the $8,000 dollar fee off.

Bill, I agree with you roughly around 0.03% of the time, but THAT was a great story that really illustrates the misguided priorities of our "leaders". Kudos for connecting the dots that brings this whole mess back down to street level.

As long as the Rose Quarter is a dead zone I will have easy parking when ever I visit my orthopedic doctor.

I found you through a google search for word games.
I'm in Portland too. I'm glad I found you!

Bravo, Bill. Perfect.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber is quoted in today's NY Times online saying that facilities control is "key" and that Seattle would not have been awarded a soccer franchise if Paul Allen and the Seahawks had not been part-owners of the stadium there. So is something else going on here?

One of the main firms in the Rose Garden project has also been awarded a no-bid contract for the UO (nearly $300 million) arena. Also in the UO arena mess is Hoffman who helped with the failure known as the South Waterfront neighborhood. On a boondoggle scale of 1-10 the Ducks arena will come in as about a 15. They made these lofty revenue projections, borrowed 100% public money and just completed a season with the most losses in recent memory. The new arena is to be about 25% larger than the old one. They have not even been able to fill the old one. Don't you just love "partnerships"?

I expect that the Lloyd Center will eventually be on the block, too. It has seen its best days and was the first modern mall in Portland. Originally uncovered, then covered. Its heyday was in the 1970s.

IMO one of the reasons the convention center doesn't get much business is the presence of the Coliseum and the Expo Center which are better venues for most smaller events and cost less to rent.

We are looking at destroying a versatile complex that provides event entertainment for a myriad of activities in order to put up a ballfield for one event that will not even be active year 'round.

I wouldn't be surprised if some see the destruction of the Coliseum as steering business to the Convention Center.

Every event I care about stages at the Expo Center which was recently enhanced. I always thought that the city missed a great urban renewal possibility in not locating the Convention Center in North Portland.

But then everyone knows that North Portland is only good for situating stuff that no other neighborhood would live with for a minute.


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