This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 12, 2009 12:58 AM. The previous post in this blog was The "don't-throw-fish" people act up. The next post in this blog is You thought your Homer Williams studio was small. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New stands at PGE Park will be uncomfortable

Reader Peter Apanel, a fierce critic of the plan to remodel PGE Park as a soccer-only facility -- unsuitable for baseball -- writes in with his reactions to the stadium renovation plans that we blogged about last week:

They plan on having 5,000 seats in the bleacher section in the east end of the stadium, but there's a problem when you crunch the numbers. The crunch is that they plan on having seats that are 19 inches wide, on risers that are 30 inches deep. If you take out a ruler and measure the chair you're sitting in at this moment, it's obvious that those proposed seating dimensions for PGE Park are going to be incredibly uncomfortable.

The other major item that is highly questionable and highly expensive is the $2.1 million to construct a roof over that east end bleacher section. Since there are only going to be approximately 20 home matches per season, and most of those matches will take place during the driest months of the year, the probability that there will actually be any rainfall during the 2-hour duration of a match is minuscule. And when you consider the fact that European soccer leagues play during the winter months, how can Portlanders complain if they should happen to get a little wet?

Another troublesome item is the plan to essentially block off the free viewing opportunities from the sidewalk along NW 18th Avenue. That's a great tradition, and a great feature of PGE Park that will be lost if the current plan goes through.

Before [the most recent] city council meeting I went up to PGE Park to take another look at the general layout, with Paulson's plans in mind. And the argument that the existing concourses within the stadium need to be widened by demolishing the existing concession stands makes no sense at all. The obvious solution to creating more space is to simply move the entry/exit gates and fences outward, into the two plazas outside the stadium.

And here's some number-crunching on their restroom plans. For the existing restrooms that serve the existing grandstand seats, they plan on adding two urinals per restroom. Currently, there are 31 restrooms at PGE Park, so presumably 15 of those are men's restrooms. So, that means they will add 30 urinals. Now, with halftimes being only 15 minutes long, one urinal can serve, at best, let's say, 25 men during that period of time. So, those extra 30 urinals will be able to serve only 750 men. Now, considering the fact that the vast majority of fans are men, those 30 extra urinals aren't going to make up for the current shortage of restrooms that forced Paulson to cordon off 3,000 seats for the match against Seattle last week.

By the way, [one day last week] I noticed that in the upper section of the grandstands, the upper two-thirds of the rows are covered with tarps. That's over 6,000 seats. Now, is Paulson's plan to artificially limit attendance at [this] week's [minor league baseball] All-Star Game? Here's the one game he could probably sell out at full capacity, so what's he up to? If he makes the same excuse he made for the Seattle match, that there aren't enough concession stands to accommodate a full house, then why doesn't he simply bring in stand-alone vendor carts and put them out along the left field, street-level concourse, as well as the two field-level beer gardens, to pick up the slack, and make it possible for fans to continue watching the game while they're waiting in line?

Besides all of the other issues, I think Paulson simply doesn't know how to run a sports franchise.

Another reader echoes this last thought:

What makes anyone think that Merritt Paulson has got the showmanship and promotional chops, out front enthusiasm, or plain old baseball (or soccer) fever to make any team he owns a success? If he couldn't make a renovated stadium and its events attractive to ordinary Portlanders, what makes anyone think he can make a go of any sports team in a bigger, more expensive venue?

My wife and I lived in Tucson in the 80s and early 90s before we moved to Portland. In Tucson we attended quite a few AAA baseball Toros games, as did it seemed about half the town. The stands were packed every home game with couples, families with lots of kids, as well as the pro sports crowd. It was fun, it was accessible (locationally), and it was relatively inexpensive- - and the management promoted the hell out of it. The place rocked on game night (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tucson_Toros).

When we moved to Portland, we first lived in the Portland Towers up above Civic Stadium and one of the attractions there was the ability to just walk over and see a ball game. It was so disappointing to see the lackluster promotion and management of the baseball games. We watched a few games, returned with hope after the first renovation, but nothing has really improved and we've never been back except for a special school-related event. Now we live in Sellwood and walk over to Westmoreland Park with the kids for our summer baseball (well, softball mostly) viewing. It doesn't even cross our minds to go downtown -- even if we knew when the games were.

But then the game for Merritt isn't baseball or soccer, it's "finance."

Comments (10)

By way of comparison, check out this article:

Coach seats on U.S. domestic flights are usually either 17.2 or 18 inches wide; on longer flights, economy-class seats on wide-bodied planes tend to be slightly larger, up to 18.5 inches. (A seat in an average economy car is 22 inches wide while an ordinary office chair measures 19 inches.) Boeing, which provides most of this country’s domestic fleets, claims that seat size has not shrunk over the years and in fact is not likely to change. What is changing is the other important dimension, what the airlines call "pitch," the distance between rows. In coach, the industry standard is 31 to 32 inches from the back of one seat to the back of the one behind it. By comparison, business-class pitch on long hauls is 38 inches or more and can go as high as 60, while first-class ranges anywhere from 38 to 89....

People who have been flying for 20 years or more swear that ever since deregulation, airlines have been cramming more and more economy-cabin passengers into the same amount of space. Industry consultants maintain that in the last decade pitch has dropped from 34 inches to 32, with some carriers closing to a claustrophobic 31 inches.

At least one 'tradition' will be maintained at PGE Park; seating will still be uncomfortable. I was excited for last big remodel, until I tried sitting in the lower bowl. They have put cup-holders where your knees go! I'm forced to sit spread-eagle, which gets tiring after a couple hours. The alternative? Head up to the bleachers, where one's allotted space is enough for one butt-cheek. I refuse to go to crowded events or pay for premium seating, since I end up in the rafters either way.

There was a fascinating special about the origins of Finance on PBS last week. I would highly recommend it. It is why we used to study history so we didn't repeat it. It talked about the folly, feast, then famine caused by the public bonding process in mid evil times when the original Prince Machiavelli's stopped being hung in back ally's for loan sharking and started to rule the world.

What? The renovation plan is messed up? You're kidding me!

Now we're drifting into my theory of the Screw-Up Son. You start with a very powerful Dad who makes many millions of dollars, and sets up his offspring. The odds of the kid having a vision equal to what made Daddy famous are slim so they go for something colorful like being a sports owner. George W. Bush did it with the Texas Rangers, where one move he made was trading Sammy Sosa.

Our guy here says stuff like, "I'm out over my skis on this project" and theorizes that the reason the Beavers don't draw is because it's not an intimate ballpark, even though PGE Park does have big baseball crowds sometimes and he would lose that revenue if everyone is jammed in a 9,000 seater.

But the obvious thing is that the current baseball park is already there hosting baseball for decades while the 9,000 seater doesn't exist.

That's one hallmark of the Screw-Up Son theory: The youngster looks at situations that have worked for generations and decides he can do it better. In George W's case, it was our system of checks and balances. His vision was to ditch the Constitution.

With our guy it was by tearing down Memorial Coliseum or destroying Lents Park to end baseball that has been played downtown since before his Dad's servants were born.

So our guy sets out to destroy his baseball field and put seats around a soccer pitch. Anyone who saw the recent Seattle match saw a field that was in the shade and an area to the East that was looking directly back into the setting sun for the opening part of the match. This is not a prime location to watch something played in the shade.

Now he wants to make the seats themselves uncomfortable and throw a cheapo roof over them that will look like a carport added onto a house. The roof will help stop the rain during the drier months but won't help with looking directly into the setting sun.

Now we come to a key difference: The Dads in this theory usually are a lot bolder, smarter, better informed, and more confident. I could picture Bush Senior telling MLS, "You want my business you have to keep PGE Park as is, and if we need to add seats for a big match, we'll do that just as they did at the Soccer Bowl back when Pele played here, but I'm not going to evict one of my two teams just because you want me to - take it or leave it."

The Screw-Up Son is more likely to be pushed around because at the heart of it he has no idea what he is doing and knows he didn't really earn this chance - it was all given to him by Dad. That's how we got 8 years of Cheney running Bush, Jr. although George still managed to screw plenty of things up on his own.

So we have embarked on an expensive plan that eliminates one team of two and leaves PGE Park in the dark for dozens more days a year. Just getting back to having a baseball stadium would cost another huge amount, and that has not gone well. For months we've watched our guy here bumbling around town begging for a place to build something we already have.

One idea the politicians kicked around was to keep Memorial Coliseum and cram the ballpark into the Rose Quarter anyway with the bleacher seats hanging out over a street. These were all clues that the genius switch was not on.

Every hallmark of the Screw-Up Son theory is at play here. The probability of this PGE Park renovation coming off correctly and making sense is near zero. It's our little civic version of the Iraq War: Poorly thought out with no good exit strategy if things get bogged down.

The urinals are the perfect metaphor. I bet the reader Peter Apanel did the math in around 5 minutes and it shows how stupid this whole thing is.

Apparently, the famous new urinals won't really help at the ballpark but they'll still play a big part in Portland's future. They'll help us piss away a ton of money.

Dumb plans that don't go well but still cost a fortune - that's always the end result in the theory of the Screw-Up Son.

The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World (4 Hr.) DVD


It is well worth the $30.00 and supports OPB.

C'mon people, when they get together for 30 minutes and decide to whack $7M out of the budget, it's just for appearance sake.

They'll vote, get going on it then realize it won't work. MP will have a staged hissy-fit, Randy will show his mock indignation then fing about $15M in the general fund to thrwo into this project since it would be such a shame to stop.

Or watch The Ascent of Money here for free and pay the $30 toward your portion of the colossal mistake the city council is getting ready to make on this re-renovation of Civic Stadium.

My company sells public seating. Bleachers (either fixed or telescopic) normally have bench seating. The standard of measurement for bench seating is 18" in width. While this is the way that the industry counts the number of seats it is not the way that people sit. There are many among us who will definitely occupy more that this amount of space. The standard depth or span of the deck is 24" (not 30"). With a standard 10" or 12" bench depth a 30" span will provide plenty of leg room. Bench seating is available with or without back rests. Back rests will require a minimum of 30" deck span. On the other hand platform seating is also available with permanently mounted chairs. This should be designed with a minimum of 36" deck span for leg room comfort and building code requirements. Chairs are available in widths from 19" to 24" and cost a lot more money than simple bench seating.

My point is that the design of seating is complex and best not left to the inexperienced. The amount of comfort is normally inversely proportional to the number of people that need to be seated in a given amount of space. Think about this and design accordingly.

Apanel writes today:

I think the restroom numbers are actually a lot worse than what I calculated.

Since sending you the email that you now have posted, I've gone back and tried to correlate the individual items in the written narrative with the site plans contained in that 12-page PDF.

Item 7 in Phase One of the narrative explains how two urinals will be added to each men's restroom. But there's a note that this item has been amended to only include the men's restrooms on the first base side of the stadium.

On the corresponding site plan (the second page of those site plans), there are 10 locations marked with the number "7," which I'm assuming corresponds to item 7 in the narrative. That would mean there are only 10 public men's restrooms along the entire concourse, and only four of those are along the first base line.

So, that apparently means only eight urinals will be added in order to serve the 20,000 existing grandstand seats, and nothing will be done to upgrade the existing women's restrooms. All of the other new restroom facilities are designed to serve the new east end grandstand.

What's confusing is that PGE Park's official website states that there are 31 restrooms in the stadium. But it's now obvious that quite a few of those restrooms are in areas of the stadium besides the concourse.

Clicky Web Analytics