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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 24, 2009 7:37 AM. The previous post in this blog was Don't mess with me. The next post in this blog is Coming soon to Lents. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Friday, July 24, 2009

Blazer fans will pay for soccer stadium

The Portland City Council approved the broad outlines of the financing for PGE Park Remodel II yesterday. It's the most preposterous deal you've ever seen, and of course it follows that Mayor Creepy and Fireman Randy are bragging about it. Erik Sten is starting to look like a fiscal conservative by comparison.

Anyway, the O had the good sense to put its best money reporter, Ted Sickinger, on the story, and so they've got a pretty decent read on the deal for a change, here. Here's what one gathers:

1. The city will borrow $11.2 million of the $31 million needed for "Phase One" of the renovation. It will take the city more than 25 years to pay the debt off.

2. Little Lord Paulson and his dad will put up the rest, but as part of the deal, they'll get to use PGE Park rent-free from 2017 to 2033. No doubt they'll be able to sell those rights, and so the city is guaranteed to get no rent for that 16 years, from anyone.

3. Most of the city's share of the renovation cost will ultimately be paid for out of ticket taxes and parking fees imposed on those attending Trail Blazer basketball games in the Rose Garden arena, owned by Paul Allen's companies.

4. If the ticket taxes and parking fees dry up or are otherwise insufficient to pay off the $11.2 million of debt, the city's property taxpayers will pay it off.

5. The debt will be extremely risky, and as a result the interest rate will be astronomical -- the O is talking 9 percent, but no one really knows how high it will be. And the bonds will be no-interest, no-payments for eight years. Gee whiz, you can't even get that kind of deal from the gal at Mattress World. Sound goofy? Well, of course it is.

If you borrow $11.2 million at 9 percent and make no payments for eight years, by the time you start making payments, you owe $22.3 million.

And if the documents track what's been discussed in the past, the city will borrow the money from an entity found by the Paulson family, if no better lender comes along. And so the Paulsons will get the city coming and going. They'll get big-time money from the Blazer fans (or property taxpayers) on the bonds, and they'll pocket lots of ticket sales from Timbers fans, with no rent cost for many years.

6. The city will continue to subsidize the wages of the stadium employees.

PGE Park will no longer be suitable for baseball, leaving soccer and football (and maybe the stray outdoor concert or two) as the only uses for the venue. And you can bet that anyone other than the almighty Timbers will have to get their kneepads on and kiss LLP's ring if they want to use that field.

We can't wait until the Paulsons are collecting sub-rent on the stadium from organizations like Portland State and the high school state football championships, and paying nothing to the city. We're all going to feel really good about that. The year 2017 sounds far in the future, but we're closer to it than we are to the beginning of the millennium, and so we'll be seeing that scenario relatively soon.

Amanda Fritz voted no on this one, but sadly, Nick Fish voted yes. We guess Fish figures that since he earned some financial sanity brownie points by helping to crater the Lents baseball stadium aspect of this fiasco, he can play the construction union side at the same time by going for the remodel aspect. That's the kind of political calculation we used to see from Fireman Randy, before he went all Caesar salad on us. We fear the Nickster will soon be completely over on the dark side. But hey, way to go, Amanda. Sorry we ever doubted you.

The only way this deal will die now is if the city can't sell the goofball bonds that it's going to write to finance it. And again, we're confident that the Paulsons will find a friendly party, or even disguise themselves as a lender, to buy that paper, eventually being paid off at an astronomical profit.

Bottom line on the remodel: The Paulsons and their friends get all the upside, and Blazer fans and the taxpayers take a major share of the downside risk, which is substantial. If you were expecting anything different, you haven't been paying attention. It's TARPortland.

And then there will be "Phase Two" of the renovation. Who knows how much LLP will hold us up for then? And 2025 will roll around, and the Blazers will negotiate their new deal. By that time, we'll be at an age where we can just turn down our hearing aid and act as though we don't understand.

Comments (44)

Today, the Stadium. Tomorrow, Bull Run.

Can you say order of magnitude worse?

Maybe the Paulsons become water barons too.

Jack-- Come on now, we still doubt Fritz. She pulled her head out of her ass on this one but let's not roll out the red carpet just yet.

Keep Portland Mediocre

Nick Fish should get some points for efficiency. He has gone native faster than any previous freshman commissioner.

It will take the city more than 25 years to pay the debt off.

And "major league soccer" will be defunct in 5.

So let's say it right now: Major League Soccer will be bankrupt/closed in 5 years. That when when Sam and Randy trot out the "nobody could have predicted that..." we can show them this thread.

So what happens when MLS does go belly-up? Paulson still gets his rent for free, and I am assuming he can basically do whatever he wants with the park at that point. Can he rent it out for crap like flea markets and basically turn it into a joke? Since he's not really on the hook for the debt I dont see any downside for him doing this.

The way I see it, the City is not necessarily robbing Blazer fans to pay for the remodel. If memory serves, the City has a contract that gives them rights to that parking revenue. Thus it is not a new financial scheme, per se, but a redirection of the money that presumably would be used elsewhere.

Of course, if they're not paying anything for 8 years, I assumes the City Council believes the Blazers will still be in Portland for that term, and that the team will be selling lots of tickets. What happens if the team craters again or Paul Allen moves them out of town?

That last comment should say, "I assume the City Council ..."

> PGE Park will no longer be suitable for baseball, leaving
>soccer and football (and maybe the stray outdoor concert or
> two) as the only uses for the venue.

Translation: They are turning a rectangular stadium built for dog racing back into a rectangular stadium, eliminating only minor league baseball from the equation.

> And you can bet that anyone other than the almighty
> Timbers will have to get their kneepads on and kiss LLP's
> ring if they want to use that field.

Why, because LLP doesn't want to make money? This doesn't even make sense. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the situation knows that at least PSU Football will continue to be played there.

And in 2014 if MLS is still going strong can the other side gloat here? Or will comments still be reserved for those that do not disagree or refute?

Sometimes, after a few beers on a sunny day, I dream of a day when local government performs such gymnastic contortions for the sake of local communities and ordinary people.

Then the buzz wears off, I read another story of City Council spending all its time and saliva on appeasing monied interests, and I order another beer.

"Because there's little available income to service more debt in the short run, the city plans to issue zero-coupon bonds, which allow interest and principal payments to be pushed off until 2017, when the Rose Quarter debt is paid off."

That's interesting. I'd love to see what those sell for. At the 9% implied over 8 years, $1 today = $2 in 2017. Best thing - this is when Paulson (if he is still here) would stop paying rent thru 2033. So they'd probably issue new debt after Samdy is gone.

I miss Blackmer and his abacus.

"Today, the Stadium. Tomorrow, Bull Run."

What do you mean? They are already raising water by 18% this year and have plans for at least 6% on sewer rates for the next 5 years.

All of this without any official requirement that they have to treat the water. So we're talking just-in-case and walking-around monies.

How about getting Las Vegas to set up a betting line on which will collapse first, the Sellwood Bridge or Major League Soccer?

I ran into Commissioner Saltzman on the street before the vote. I asked him to vote against it. He said he was for it, it would be good for the city and no taxpayer or urban renewal money would be involved. Is he just stupid or naive?

He said he was for it, it would be good for the city and no taxpayer or urban renewal money would be involved.

When a politician uses the "no direct taxpayer connection" ploy, I know he's lying--intentionally or not. It's a simplistic, childish--and disingenuous--way of looking at local economics.

even if something like this project does not "directly" use taxpayer or urban renewal money, you only have to walk backwards a step or two in an economic flowchart to see what's up. money does not magically appear to pay millions to service City-created debt.

Every member of City Council knows this. *especially* Adams, Leonard, and Saltzman.

Having worked in finance, this structure to me is akin to someone taking out a 72 month loan on a car with a hundred thousand miles and a shaky transmission. And no warranty.. The loan is going to last a lot longer than the collateral.

This caused me to go looking for a dimly, half-remembered quote about corruption that seems apt. Haven't found it yet, but this one seems apt too -- helps explain why the little boys all want to suck up to the Barefoot Lord:

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”

David Brin (American science-fiction writer b.1950)

A+ photoshop skills!

I would love to see how those Zero Coupon Bonds are going to work out. It's a very tough market for Muni Bonds right now; and not likely to improve anytime soon.

Welcome to MLS, Portland!
Finally you've entered the big time, in the biggest sport in the world. Now you're not a small time city anymore!
MLS is 100% solid, thanks to a great business plan and great new markets like Seattle and Toronto.
Take a look into how MLS works and you'll be amazed at the fiscal restraint that makes it more sound than the NFL.

You nailed 'em, Jack!

Randy's starting to remind me of Crazy Eddie.

I confess I don't even like soccer. I suspect that I would be joined by most citizens of Portland in this regard.

What's up with a game where you run after a ball but are not allowed to use hands or arms to control it? It looks like a field full of thalidomide victims pursuing participation ribbons at family sport day. Furthermore, players rarely score, usually leaving the actual determination of which team is better greatly in doubt. Nothing better than a 0-0 tie resolved by the good luck kick!

Jack, you are absolutely correct on this one. There is no way the Portland taxpayers can come out of this any way but screwed. Does our City Council just get to do anything they want? I fear the electorate has no idea that the inmates are running the institution.

I'd buy those bonds. Nine percent sounds good to me. As a bondholder, why would I care if the general fund pays the bonds at maturity, or some sinking fund that's funded with basketball ticket taxes and parking fees pays the bonds at maturity? Portland is good for it, even if they fire all the cops and firefighters, and raise all the utilities and taxes. They would do all those things before defaulting on their bonds.

I suspect all this buzz about what a bad investment the bonds are is a smokescreen for an inside sale of all the bonds back to Paulson or an affiliated entity. These aren't junk bonds. There's never ever been a Portland bond issue that's failed, has there? Portland will always step up with the general fund, even if they don't have to under the terms of the indenture, because a default would cost the city way more in increased future debt service costs than what the city would save if it allowed a few tens of millions of bonds to go into default.

Anyone know where can I get in on this? Why don't they at least let individual city residents get in on the good investment, instead of flowing all that interest to Bid Daddy Paulson?

RANZ, homeowners and other property taxpayers are the eventual collateral:

"4. If the ticket taxes and parking fees dry up or are otherwise insufficient to pay off the $11.2 million of debt, the city's property taxpayers will pay it off."

Hank Paulson, Jr, oversaw the theft and transfer of $307B from the NW economy to Wall St Nation when WAMU, solvent at the time, was seized by the discredited OTS last 25Sept and turned over to the FDIC's greedy Sheila Bair, who gave it to JPMChase the same evening for $1.9B. Now the Paulsons, père et fils, have obtained permission to further fleece this region.

Why the spread-legs policy of the Gang of Four? Until their bank accounts are publicly examined, we shall never know. Certainly, whatever Mr Adams asserts should be assumed to be distant from the truth; but it is sad to see Ham Fish IV's son fall so far from the tree.

YYEESSS , let's all buy the bonds ,then when [not if] they fail , we would all be paying off ourselves. Hmm , I believe it is called a circle jerk....

You'd think the City would at least put in a clause that says if MLS goes belly up and the City can't recoup its $11.2 M investment, it could resume ownership and management of the park in those "freebie" years. Nope, MP gets to keep his lease and keep making a profit while we pay for it for years beyond. Wow, can Samadumbs and Randy negotiate a deal like that for me?

You know why they don't really care? Because when they've finished their cushy time on the City Council, they will take lucrative consulting gigs with an MP or HW business entity and move to Lake Oswego or Beaverton, thus avoiding the very taxes they created for the rest of us.

Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow) must live in Portland! See the blurb for his new book:

Product Description

“I have always admired Tom Tomorrow for his keen intelligence and penguin-based wit, but now he has unnerved me with a story of socio-political chaos that is at once completely ridiculous and sadly familiar.”—Lemony Snicket

“This is a funny book with an important message: we need penguins in government.”—Dave Barry

The mayor of the “medium-sized city” has some very strange ideas. Among them that firemen should put out fires using peanut butter instead of water and that policeman should chase robbers while wearing clown costumes. Needless to say, these decisions don’t work out too well. When Sparky the Penguin wonders why nobody thought to question these silly ideas, he finds out that people were afraid of being laughed at if they disagreed with the mayor.

The first-ever children’s book from legendary cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, The Very Silly Mayor uses Tom’s unique combination of humor and social commentary to teach children to trust their own judgment, even if other people might disagree with their views or make fun of them.

One of the most influential comic artists of the past twenty years, Tom Tomorrow's weekly strip, This Modern World, appears regularly in many papers across the United States, as well as on He is the author of numerous cartoon collections, including The Great Big Book of Tomorrow, The Future’s So Bright I Can’t Bear to Look, and Penguin Soup for the Soul.

Don't you feel .... like you just watched ... a "made for tv" movie?

This all seems ... too perfect.

At least The Round will get more tenants.

And, how soon we forget - there's still the 25 mil or so the City is on the hook for the first remodel of PGE Park (will it soon be know as LLP Park? Merit-less Park?) And where's that money coming from, Danny boy?

And I sure as heck won't be trying to find my way to some baseball park in an old movie theater in Beaverton to watch the Beavers - if they even still exist.

The theater was razed several years ago. It should be referred to as the property formerly occupied by the Westgate theater.

Twenty years from now, this will be in a public administration textbook illustrating how good cities go bad. The principles of good management violated by this are too many to list. Chief among them? "Stick to the knitting."


I posted my statement in support of the latest MLS proposal on my website:


Honest call or "political calculation"?

After voting no on the 2 stadium deal, voting no on the use of URA funds, opposing the use of tens of millions of dollars from the Lents URA, and the siting of a stadium in Lents Park, and

After supporting the decoupling of soccer and baseball,

I supported this deal because it shifts the cost of bringing MLS to Portland to Paulson and spectators--and addresses most of the conditions I laid out for my support.

Now I hope we can land a women's professional soccer team as well.

Stay cool.

Nick Fish

PS. All free summer fun is posted at, including free concerts, movies, swimming, etc.

shifts the cost of bringing MLS to Portland to Paulson and spectators

The loss of rent revenue from the stadium for 16 years is a cost, isn't it? And since the city owns the stadium, isn't that a cost that all city taxpayers will bear?


My recollection is that Paulson pays rent for 7 years, guaranteed, and prepays rent for years 8-25.

The rent is based on the base rent he pays now, which includes soccer and baseball, with annual escalators.

How is that a loss of rent revenue?


Voters can challenge the issuance of city debt by referendum. You just need a lot of registered voter signatures on a petition within a short period of time - sort of like a recall.

a lot of registered voter signatures on a petition within a short period of time

It's a shorter period of time, if I recall correctly.

How is that a loss of rent revenue?

The "prepaid rent" can't be used for what the PGE Park rent currently pays for -- to put a modest dent in the bonds from the last remodel.

Prepaid rent is just another way for the tenant to lend the landlord money. And so that portion of the cash that Paulson will be putting up isn't Paulson's money -- it's the city's.

I believe Nick Fish needs to attend a few accounting classes or solicit an opinion from the city auditor. Then still get an opinion from an outside accounting firm.

I can't believe Fish's outlandish thinking. Plus, most Portlander's can't either.

Keep Portland weird. Re-elect Nick Fish.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Throw in corruption and total incompetence and the beat goes on.

There's not a sign of anything having been learned from any of the past boneheaded boondoggles so why would there be anything but more of them?

Hey Fish, there's not a tram or a hotel or a station that couldn't be justified with your assinine convolution.

Suppose Portland deeds the property to Paulson and friends, to do with as they wish provided they pay property taxes based on value if rent is derived from unrestricted use, with a recorded agreement to deed it back to the City of Portland (or Multnomah County if Portland files bankruptcy in the meantime) in 2033.

The use of the property will be wholly private, regardless of whether it is used to host soccer or to host a 24 year run of The Dead. The core distinguishing characteristic of ownership is the right to exclude others, and that appears to be fully satisfied here, in total. They want the exclusivity of control that accompanies fee simple ownership. OK then.

PortlandMaps 1844 SW Morrison St

Market Value $40,984,680.00
Assessed Value $0.00

The present value of a lost stream of no less than 4 million dollars per year for 24 years equals what? Alternatively, if it is deferred with interest until 2033 what would the tax bill be and would it exceed the value of the property at that time?

Use for soccer does not transform a private for-profit organization and enterprise into a non-profit one, nor into a quasi-governmental entity so as to escape property taxes. Could Portland for example declare that it is a public purpose that young adults should have kids and thus give every young parent tax free use of property until their first child reaches 18 or if in college until they reach 24? (But only so long as they threaten to leave in the absence of the grant of a tax break.) Nick Fish might modify it to say OK, so long as the kid enters a city sanctioned soccer program.

Nick Fish...I am SO disappointed in you!
For shame!

Rocker said, "Take a look into how MLS works and you'll be amazed at the fiscal restraint that makes it more sound than the NFL."

MLS is more sound as a going concern than the NFL? will the delusions of the soccer fan ever end?

PS - Nick Fish and his lack of accounting knowledge should not be allowed anywhere near the cities $$$$....

Nick, you got punked by the Timbers Army. They sent you a bunch of emails from fake constituents talking about how important soccer was. I love soccer, too, but I don't want to see the city of Portland go into more debt. We already owe 25 million dollars for the last remodel. Now we will owe 40 million dollars or more on this new debt, plus losing more than 30 million dollars from lost rent payments. We also lose the revenue from the Beavers. This is such a shockingly bad deal, and how does it benefit? Not the people of Portland, but a private businessman from a very unethical family, and a small gang of violent hooligans who have publicly threatened all who have spoken the facts about this deal. You shouldn't cave in to special interests, especially the ones involved in this deal. Your interest should be the health of the city of Portland. This city is not healthy. We need our leaders to take an ethical stand. I am crying for Portland. :(


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L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
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The Occasional Book

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Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
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Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
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Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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