New chapters in Paulson stadiums horror show
We're going to miss the Portland mainstream media if it's ever finally dead and buried. It's always fun to track the different news organs' separate spins on the same story.
Take last night, for example. Portland's mayor held an "open house" on the rush-rush plan to blow tens of millions of dollars of public money to build not one but two new stadiums for bush league sports teams owned by the fat cats of the Henry Paulson Wall Street family. According to the Trib, the mayor faced "a roomful of lions" -- a "hostile crowd," some of whom "booed and hissed whenever he talked about" replacing the Memorial Coliseum with yet another minor league baseball park -- a decision that he and his City Council colleague, Fireman Randy, unilaterally made a month or two ago. "[M]ost of the opinions," the Trib reported of last night's confab, "seemed opposed to both the plans and the speed with which they are developing."
The O sent a reporter to the same event, although one would hardly know it. In that publication, the mayor merely got "input," and "[m]any expressed concerns or questioned the complicated construction and financial plans." Translation: It was a lovely night, except for the people who were too dumb to understand the genius of it all.
Serving as a grim counterweight to the amusing news coverage was an alarming detail buried down in a separate O story that hit the web yesterday. It has to do with the Blazers' plan, which the mayor is now co-opting, to let a controversial development outfit called Cordish Company build one of its glitzy "entertainment districts" around the Rose Garden, which sits next door to the soon-to-be-wrecked Coliseum. According to the O --
The Blazers entertainment district would run in the neighborhood of $200 million, according to city officials, and Paulson's pitch would cost about $89 million. The costs of both would be covered by public and private sources -- with nearly all the financing still to be sorted out.It's not enough to sell out our future for Henry Paulson -- now there has to be public money in there for Paul Allen, too. Well over a quarter billion of total investment for these wasteful developments, and that's just at the liars' budget stage. The inmates are running the asylum, people. The City of Portland is completely and certifiably off its rocker.
Adams said he hopes to bring the outlines of a public-private deal with the Blazers to the City Council later this month.
Meanwhile, the Coliseum turns out to have a surprising number of admirers, even among the condo architect set. They've quickly organized to stop the demolition, and now one of the defenders of the old arena has uncovered a legal wrinkle that could tie up the Paulson hustle for quite some time. In an e-mail to the mayor yesterday, Joshua Cohen wrote:
The Central City Plan District, where Memorial Coliseum is located, requires any planned development that includes a demolition to replace the demolished structure's ground floor square footage on site. Adjustments through design review are prohibited.... The footprint of Memorial Coliseum is 137,300 square feet. I doubt that the proposed replacement, a minor league baseball stadium, would involve building such a large structure, unless it covers the entire field, at a large additional expense.Go for it, Cohen! And, hey, Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz -- where's the process here?
This could be removed with another city ordinance, but that provides yet another avenue for opponents of demolition to fight the project. As I've learned from following other controversial projects in Portland, permitting can be drawn out for years with appeals... more than enough time to get a National Register nomination for Memorial Coliseum approved. Perhaps another site that does not carry such restrictions would be a better choice for the new baseball stadium.
The more one looks at the Paulson stadiums deal, the less likely it appears that it could ever come to full fruition. The more realistic question is how much city money will be wasted before it's killed off. The mayor and the fireman have lots of experience with harebrained ideas that they suddenly have to drop like a hot potato -- the Sauvie Island Bridge move and the first round of Chávez Boulevard, to name but two. Let's hope they add the duelling white elephant stadiums to that list as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, even the guy from Pink Martini, who jigged around with Storm Large singing "What's a Little Sex with a Teenage Boy?" on the mayor's behalf back in January, now says he thinks that the mayor's "lost it." Maybe Mr. Piano Man heard from his own fan base about how much face he's lost by jumping to Hizzoner's defense. In any case, he's quite right in his revised assessment.