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Friday, April 10, 2009

Fighting back against Paulson and Creepy

Some local architects want to save the Portland Memorial Coliseum.

Comments (32)

Good for them. They're absolutely right. Of all the infuriating things about the LLP boondoggle, the gratuitous assault on Memorial Coliseum is probably the worst of the lot -- it's like coming home to find your house ransacked by burglars who decided to shit on your carpet and uproot your heirloom plants. What would you call the opposite of a grace note? There's simply no good way to express how appalling the casual, hasty and totally unnecessary idea of knocking down Memorial is.

I think the only comparison that springs to mind is the Taliban in Afghanistan shelling those incredible statues at Bamyan.


The mayor said he has seen “very little action” over the years toward redeveloping the Rose Quarter.

Not a problem in the mayor's personal life.


The Memorial Coliseum is why my family moved to Portland. My father was the on-site construction inspector for the architectual firm, SOM. I would bet that David Pugh had a hand in that design, as he was the local partner, IIRC. I saw much of Portland grow from partially finished construction projects...SOM designed a LOT of stuff in Portland.

It was an innovative design, in its day. And, it IS a memorial...to fallen soldiers, IIRC. There was a fountain on the northeast corner, with the dedication. Besides, I watched many a Buckaroo game there in my youth. It was toothless!!

Way to be really sensitive, guys. Tear down our memorials, throw out our memories. Just cast them aside for some rich guy from elsewhere. Like those of us who grew up here, have lived here, or raised families here...just don't matter.

I'm down with this, too. Memorial Coliseum has historic class. Randy gets misty about a neon sign from his youth? What about this?
Stop acting as a wet nurse to the people who bankrupted the banking system and do your job preserving what makes Portland great.

And by the way, playing the Lents district so the Memorial Coliseum forces wouldn't have as much time to organize, was a lowdown rotten thing to do.

Put a big neon sign reading "University of Vanport" on the Coliseum & the Foolish Fireman will consider it sacred.

I dunno - this sounds like the usual "Somebody wants to change something I have only a passing interest in, so I'll complain about it in vociferous terms."

I don't have terrific memories of the MC - I grew up watching games in the Kingdome. I was sad to see that structure fall - lots of terrific memories there, including cheering myself hoarse for such giants at Bruce Bochte, Julio Cruz, Alvin Davis, Jim Zorn, Kenny Easley, and Efren Herrera - and the Dome was a Seattle icon.

However, in the nine years I've lived here I can't think of a single time when the MC was the focal point of anything in Portland - there's never been a "thank God we've got the MC because it's the perfect venue" for anything as far as I can tell. Perhaps someone can educate me as to the vital role the MC plays in Portland today, but I don't see it.

The argument that you can look outside the MC during a game and see the river isn't very persuasive. You're in the MC to watch a game - not too many folks I know would spend any time watching the river slide through downtown rather than watch the action they paid to see. I'm sure it's a nice view, but is that reason sufficient to preserve the structure?

The MC is not Madison Square Garden, Fenway Park, or Wrigley Field, so steeped in American sports legend that people flock there just to say they saw a game there. Candlestick Park has been replaced, and the replacement is better. Same goes with Safeco in Seattle. If it's done right (and that's a big if), we'll never miss the MC.

1] We are at war Mr. Mayor , and you want to destroy our Vets Memorial ???

2] It is very Un - Green to destroy existing buildings

3] The frakin Beatles played
the house here!

4] We won the NBA Title here
and I saw a game of it in
this Rockin Arena!
ps. [you don't wanna piss
off Mo Lucas]

5] The Architects are gettin organized , and we Remember
when we vote [and RECALL]

Somebody start a rumor that Cesar Chavez saw a Blazer game there in the 1970s.

Maybe if Dave Frohnmeyer threatened to paint the thing green and yellow, Fireman Randy and Sam Adumbs would threaten to condemn it for preservation's sake?

I wish you were right about not really caring about this. I admit some of these comments are just for the sake of exercising the mind. I get the feeling Jack is trying to keep from letting the tax code fry his head, and I'm trying to keep from letting the writing of 50 or so jokes a day fry mine.
Don't get me wrong - the emotions have been real, for the most part anyway.

Over the years on this blog, the most anger I've ever felt was at OHSU for trying not to take care of the brain-damaged boy whose family sued. I can't say I was hurt by it though - especially compared to how badly OHSU hurt this kid.
Fortunately, the courts took care of that.
The tram was frustrating but I was not hurt by it either. Since then I've learned what Sam and Randy are all about, and though it's sometimes frustrating, I've actually come to a place where I just feel sorry for them. I don't think they get it about life. They're in a position to help people who really need it and they spend their time sniffing after the rich. It's pathetic. I think Curtis Salgado should write a blues song about Randy - about how he lost his way.

If Memorial Coliseum goes, it will hurt me. I love the history of the place. I love the concerts I've seen there. Incidentally, the last great event I attended there was the Obama rally last year.

Randy and Sam have changed this city a lot financially. Deals like this soccer one where we wait and pay it all off years from now sound like something beneath a loan shark. But I'm used to all the silly BS from these guys. It's irritating but it doesn't hurt.

Memorial Coliseum? That's going to hurt. That's part of my past. That's where Dr. J walked right by me. That's where Jerry Garcia sent out a lick so otherworldly that it still floats up there in the rafters.

Don't do it, Portland. Don't let politicians with compromised souls, destroy the soul of a city. Talk to him, Curtis. Play a lick on the harp so righteous that Randy realizes there's more to life than guys named Henry Merritt Paulson III.

They blow so much smoke about what we could gain here: International prestige, blah, blah, blah.
But I already know what we could lose, and no urban renewal tax excrement deal can ever bring it back again.

I join the other architects who know the history of MC, the meaning of good architecture, preservation and green architecture that will help put a stop to this foolishness.

If you think Adams has a "Plan" for the placement of a ballpark on the MC site it is seriously not thought out. The footprint of the existing PGE Park with outside pedestrian areas exceeds the available land at the MC site. Parking isn't considered. Enormous grade variations aren't addressed. There's more demolition than the MC to shoehorn in the ballpark destroying some of the present Rose Garden plaza and connecting buildings, as well as a newer parking garage. Then to think that it can all be done for $48 Million is false.

All Adams and Leonard have is a freehand aerial view, sketchy perspective and doodles of a plan on yellow buff paper. There should be no forward motion on this by the rest of the Council without at least due diligence.

Someone at work had this thought...keep PGE Park the way it is for the Beavers. Remodel Memorial Coliseum for soccer. Take the glass box off if you have to. Put some grass in there and its good to go. Sounds like a lot less money. And if all these people are going to be attending MLS games, the Rose Quarter has the capacity and better access anyway.

Hi All,

There will be a public "open house" on April 14th in which you can tell Sam Adams in person what you think about his actions. It is really vital that people show up to this meeting as Sam has been known in the past to stack the house with supporters (City Club State of the City Speech).

Rose Quarter Redevelopment Public Open House Event
April 14th - 6:00PM to 8:00PM
Leftbank Building, 240 N. Broadway

Jasun Wurster


I enjoyed your response, and I'd like to follow up on a couple of items if I may.

I completely agree with you that Sam and Randy are not trustworthy custodians of the City. I have low expectations for these two.

But while you may cherish your memories of the MC, those memories will live on regardless of whether the building is still there. I spent my college years at Chapel Hill, and while I understood when former Tar Heels waxed nostalgic about watching Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and other greats play in Carmichael Gym, I loved watching my beloved Tar Heels play in the new-fangled Dean Dome. I watched James Taylor, Metallica, REM, and Aerosmith in the Dome. Was it better than Carmichael? Impossible to say, but the Dean Dome is where my cherished memories are. Lots of older Carolina fans wax nostalgic and complain that the Dome isn't as good a venue as Carmichael, but oddly enough they cheer just as hard during the games and nobody ever seems to be having a bad time.

You have memories of the MC. I have memories from the Kingdome, like the time Dave Winfield hit a home run so hard that the ball was STILL GOING UP when it hit the bleachers. One of the best memories of my life, but if you'd ask me whether I'd rather watch the M's, it's Safeco hands down.

I hear your love for the MC, and I respect it. But every stadium has some good memories in it, and stadiums get replaced. Again, we are not talking about Cameron Indoor Stadium here - an icon that exemplifies what is good about its dedicated sport - but a small venue where some pretty cool stuff has happened from time to time.

Except in rare instances (like Wrigley), the heart of the city is not in the building itself, but the passion of the citizens that go into that building. We've come a long way with stadium design in recent years, and I am hopeful that a top-notch design can be implemented for the new stadium - and it will be a better venue than the MC. Once it's there, it's up to Portlanders to make it a Special Place to Be.

We Portlanders should be able to overcome our elected leaders. Do not let them stand in our way. If we shy away from doing anything because we're afraid that our mayor or city council might screw it up, we're never going to do anything.

I am not crazy about the Memorial Coliseum, but they need something that would be open 60 hours a week.

How about turning it into something like a cross between the Centre Pompidou (looks like the Mem Coliseum) and Musee d'Orsay (an ex-railroad station) in Paris?

It could be a performance/art museum/casino thing.

As long as we get to it before Randy and Sam inflict their poor taste upon us all.

I love how nobody in the city wants this deal except for about five people. What is it about bad leaders that they get such a thrill from doing things nobody wants? It feels like the Bush administration all over again.

Portland Public Schools, and other schools, hold their high school graduation ceremonies at the Memorial Coliseum. I don't know what other venue they can use if it's torn down.

I understand your point about new stadiums. I hear the new Yankee stadium is incredible, and someday the wrecking ball could even come for Fenway or Wrigley Field.
But let's not throw away history so cheaply. If Carmichael Gym was being torn down because some rich guy needed a place to park his minor league baseball team, in a 7,500-9,500 seater outdoor stadium, the alumni would have gone crazy.
Are you saying the place where the Beatles played, will soon be forgotten once those fresh Beaver baseball memories start mounting up?

There's a good chance that Memorial Coliseum will grow in historical value as the years go by.
There's also a good chance that the MLS soccer league will fold, PGE Park will be basically empty again, and we'll be stuck with a little joke baseball stadium - having thrown away a tremendous building. We'll also be stuck with a couple of hundred million dollar bill in my estimate - for nothing.
The difference here is that there was no chance that the Tar Heels would stop playing basketball. (Congrats by the way.)
(Incidentally, I once attended a Paul McCartney concert at the Kingdome. I thought the sound would be crap - we were a long way from the stage. Hanging down from the roof around 20 yards from us was a single giant column speaker. The sound was excellent.)

Four relevant stories have been posted on Willamette Week's website since this week's print edition hit the streets. Two are about the MLS soccer deal, one is about urban renewal and one is about the Rose Quarter redevelopment hearing next week.

I'm really curious about something that nobody talks about. Has Merritt Paulson hit the city with a "if I don't get my way" scenario? Such as, "If I don't get my way, I'll sell the teams" or "If I don't get my way, I'll move the Timbers to another city."

If he has, it's a part of the equation the City Council is not sharing with us. Perhaps because only a roomful of Timber supporters would seriously care.

International sports acclaim be damned. I'd rather be known on an international scale for sustainability and community support.

I think that's Don Garber's job, threatening to move the team somewhere else. Note the money angle in the need for a new soccer stadium.


Ick. Why do I get the feeling that we are voluntarily taking on a voracious parasite that we'll regret for years to come?


As a slice of Carolina history, the building of the Dean Dome was one of the more notorious little episodes. One difference was that Coach Smith arranged for the entire cost to be borne by season ticket holders who paid $100K for a lifetime seat apiece (made for some very interesting lawsuits down the road whether those seats could be passed down to heirs, by the way).

The new stadium was extremely controversial and for many of the same reasons that you cite - Carmichael was, along the CIS over at Duke - one of *the* defining venues on Tobacco Road. But it's funny now that the Dome has gotten its own history that grads from my generation and later are fondly recalling their bygone days at the Dome.

For me, it all comes down to whether we (a) build a worthy new stadium and (b) support the team that's there. A shoddy stadium will disappoint me just as much as a great stadium without Portlanders in it. Maybe it's because the economy has worn out my pessimistic streak, but I have to admit that I'm approaching this with an optimistic attitude in spite of the Dynamic Duo of Randy and Sam.

Perhaps that optimism stems from my belief that in twenty years, long after Sam and Randy have passed into political dustbins, Portlanders will still be here in all our crotchety glory, supporting our teams, bemoaning City Hall's wasteful ways, and cheering for our boys and girls on the field while drinking a criminally-overpriced microbrew.

Your indifference to the social costs of this project is even more creepy than our mayor.

Why should we be concerned about the details of the proposed stadium when the safety net is shredding and more Portlanders are falling through it every day?

Try reading other sections of the newspaper besides the Sports section. The front page of the NY Times online has a story "States Slashing Social Programs for the Vulnerable."

Portland Public Schools, and other schools, hold their high school graduation ceremonies at the Memorial Coliseum. I don't know what other venue they can use if it's torn down.

Sunset HS uses Chiles Center at UP. Seems to work fine. But why couldnt they use PGE Park? Or The Rose Garden? I dont want the Coliseum torn down either, but I think "where will they hold graduations" is a non-issue.

Maybe it's a non-issue for you, but not for families who don't own a car. The Coliseum is centrally located and easily accessible by public transportation.

PGE Park would not work when it rains. It might not work for students in wheelchairs, especially if the field is replaced with grass. And the stands are too far away from the field for decent photographs. It might also be difficult for elderly grandparents and great grandparents to attend because there is no onsite parking.

Could it be that Paulson's people are smoking the really good stuff now? In a recent meeting, one of Paulson's minions said they expected to draw 800,000 fans a year to the new ballpark in the Rose Quarter. This must be some sort of new math. If they SOLD OUT EVERY ONE of the Beaver's 72 home games in a ballpark of 7,500 to 9,500 seats (as proposed), the total would be 540,000 to 684,000 tickets sold for the year. No wonder the financials for this deal look so good! Is the whole deal premised on this sort of wishful financial thinking? Guess who ends up holding the bag if they are wrong? Anybody remember Portland Family Entertainment? Maybe we should start calling this PFE II.

Rainman - Okay, so I looked at the Obletz plan you linked.

Here's what I think: it looks good on paper, the same way paper profits do until the Raubritter tank the market and the economy, turning your 401k into a 201k, or until you find out that you invested your pension or life savings in a Ponzi scheme.

Maybe you are new in town. Do you know what happened to the South Waterfront plan? Fizzle. The people who pushed the project said it would bring $1 billion dollars of revenue a year to Portland.

"TIF this" and "TIF that." Where does it end?

Speaking of bad ideas, here's from a comment at The Oil Drum:

My weekly newspaper in small town Wisconsin has a quarter-page ad from Edward Jones promoting an investment with 5.25% yield. The vehicle? Tax-free municipal bonds, final maturity May 1, 2030, underwritten by (drumroll...) the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County!

Next week: an exciting investment opportunities in bridges...

I wonder what rate they're going to have to offer on bonds to get Little Lord Paulson's Playpens built?

Of course, it's different here:

At Nationals Park, District of Dreams Hits a Slump Instead of an Ambitious Streetscape With Cafes and Shops, Idle Construction Sites Will Greet Fans for the Home Opener Gallery

Voices From a Stalled Development
A year ago, when Washington's new baseball park opened, there was promise of a lively entertainment district with new offices, condos, shops and restaurants. But the financial gloom and credit crisis is leaving builders unable to secure construction loans.

By Dana Hedgpeth and David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 12, 2009; Page A01

Baseball stadium backers promised a lively entertainment district when the D.C. government poured nearly $700 million into building Nationals Park: a hub of bustling shops, restaurants, hotels, condos and office towers to draw patrons year-round.

But as the Nationals take the field for their second season at the ballpark, there won't be much entertainment outside. In a few weeks, a developer expects to set up a lonely beer tent on an empty lot across the street. . . .


* At Nationals Park, District of Dreams Hits a Slump
* Voices From a Stalled Development
* Interactive Map: Economy Stalls Development in SE

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