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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Paulson's real whopper

We blogged yesterday about the recently uncovered "major league" (by U.S. standards) stadium design guidelines, which set all sorts of requirements that even a spendy re-renovation of PGE Park will not satisfy. But an alert reader who perused the guideline document more carefully found something even more interesting: Despite the official story that has been repeated over and over by the stadium project's proponents, the "major league" does not absolutely require that stadiums in the league be soccer-only. It's a preference at most, and by no means a hard-and-fast requirement:

1.9. Other Sports

The playing area can be designed to accommodate other sports. However it should be noted that if the viewing requirements (field dimensions) of these sports differ greatly from Soccer it will compromise the viewing experience as spectators will be further from the field than would be necessary. This effect on this standard of viewing should be considered at the beginning of the design stage. Stadia designed for a particular sport will always offer a better viewing experience than multi venue facilities. It is not recommended that a Soccer stadium be combined with an athletics track.

They're kicking the Portland Beavers baseball team out of Portland and putting all of the city's sports bets on the continued existence of the "major" soccer league, but it clearly doesn't have to be that way. The teams' owner, Henry M. Paulson III, and the league simply want it that way. And the City Council is rolling right over and giving them what they want.

Comments (13)

Meanwhile, at last report, average attendance in the league is down more than 4.6% from last year, according to ESPN. Not counting the new Seattle franchise, it's down around 11.2%. Portland may have a strong soccer following, but will its team have a league to play in?

It frustrates me that you may possibly damage any legitimate arguments, mainly fiscal, against screwing around with spending money on a soccer field by presenting these specious arguments based on MLS' recommendations (again, not requirements).

And now you blow a hole in the argument you presented earlier. First, the design won't work because MLS recommended specifications cannot be met (not enough bathrooms, seat spacing wrong, etc.). But now, the design doesn't need to work (you can get away with baseball too) because they are merely recommendations.

Which is it?

"now you blow a hole in the argument"

Who the heck knows on City Council whats going on.

Garber tells us the field must be one way and gosh darn it, we must build it that way.

Then FIFA says fields have other restrictions, but BTW they can play on the field even if it doesn't follow rules.

Now this comes out and says we can do something else Garber insisted we couldn't.

I gotta tell you, Paulson/Garber date with Randy (who's never been to a soccer game prior) in NYC is going to cost us. I guess that's what happens when hicks see the big town.

So hating to state the obvious...... if public outrage and pointing out reality killed Fireman Randy's expensive water treatment boondoggle idea, why oh why, doesn't the populace take it to City Hall on this half baked idea to misuse public funds...

Also, there was a great email posted yesterday by Peter King:


From Michael Abernethy of Austin, Texas: "You wrote, 'and if Jones spent more money than any single person has ever spent to build an American stadium...' but there's a correction. It's more money than any group of taxpayers has ever spent for a stadium. Let's not forget that a majority of this stadium was paid for by taxpayer dollars, a true fleecing of their money for America's highest valued sports franchise. Throw in another $150 million from the NFL, and Jones' contribution to the stadium is estimated at only 10-20 percent of its total cost. With all the uproar about taxpayer bailouts in today's news, it's disappointing there's not more media attention on this crazy situation, where a stadium financed by the average taxpayer has become too expensive for that same average taxpayer to even attend a game.''

Because if the taxpayers pay for something, it should be theirs... oh wait... there is a team called the Packers who are owned by the people who paid for them.

One of the many misconceptions on the part of SamRan is that they are convinced that they are now part of the 'elite', perhaps even approaching the same socio-economic class of the Paulsons because of their 'vaulted powerful positions' in city government. They do not understand that the Paulsons, and their class regard them as semi useful, but singularly stupid persons who have been duped, and when SamRan is no longer useful the Paulsons will discard them like used toilet paper.

It's odd that Amanda Fritz, or even Nick Fish, didn't flush out the real facts and wording on "1.9. Other Sports". The question about "where is the requirement that it can't have baseball?" has been around for a long time.

Please Amanda, you usually ask the right questions and seek the answers, then do something about it.

There are plenty of reasons to oppose the stadium deal, but the insistence that baseball and soccer don't share the same stadium really isn't one of them. One needs only the most rudimentary understanding of both sports to understand that you can't have a decent soccer stadium with seats on only one half of the field and you can't have a baseball stadium with only 200 feet between the left field wall and home plate. Without creating massive movable stands (you think the renovation is expensive now?!?!), it's simply not feasible for the two sports to share a stadium with even a halfway decent experience for the fans. Yes, for one-off events in the past, like Women's WC, they've erected bleachers in left field, but the cost in labor alone of erecting and dismantling fairly massive stands 20 times a summer is clearly unmanageable too.

I suspect the "other sports" being referred to are sports (like football) which share a similar sized field (same length, somewhat narrower).

dismantling fairly massive stands 20 times a summer is clearly unmanageable too.

The debt service on $10 million of borrowing at 6% interest over 25 years would clearly be enough to cover it.

It's certainly possible they could come up with the money, but I was thinking more of the time involved. At least a few times a season they'd probably have to turn the field over in 24 hours, or at least 48. Either seems challenging (unless some sort of movable stands could be installed, but I would imagine that would cost more, not less, than the planned renovations).

I must say, a lot of this has got me thinking that it might be nice to keep PGE for baseball and build a new stadium for the Timbers. Unfortunately, I doubt that's necessarily going to save any money (I have no idea whether building a new 25,000 seat soccer stadium is cheaper than a new 8,000 seat baseball stadium and remodeling PGE). Since the finances of the whole thing seem to be the sticking point for most folks (rightly, IMHO) I doubt many would see that plan as much of an improvement.

It frustrates me that you may possibly damage any legitimate arguments

Not sure if you can hear me up there on your high horse, but in case you haven't noticed, the soccer part of the boondoggle was a done deal from Day 1. There were numerous lies along the way, and it's important to point them all out. Given who's running the city, there's no harm to be done by critics -- the damage is already done.

Nate Currie, you should review today's Wall Street Journal. Page A12 and A13 have large drawings of the four soccer venues being built for Uganda's upcoming hosting of the 2010 Cup of Nations. All four have large spaces of over 80 ft from soccer fields to stands with running tracks in between. These distances are more than the distance from the left field to the wall along SW 18th at PGE Park in a soccer configuration.

Also, you may want to talk to a few architects and engineers about all the solutions, products, engineering possibilities for movable seating that can solve the time and cost problems you cite.

In fact, look at the movable seating solutions in even old Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Garden. There are solutions that would be much cheaper than the interest payments alone as Jack points out.

There is also the feasibility of excavating out from under the present 18 ft sidewalk of SW 18th to house the stored stacked seating while baseball is played, similar to how some high school, college facilities store movable seating. This would allow for baseball and give the additional seating Paulson thinks he needs.

There are much less costly, sensible solutions for many venues to use PGE Park, but Sam, Randy and Paulson had an agenda.

Hmm. Seattle Sounders play at quest field, which is also home of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

Doesn't sound like a single purpose stadium to me.

Ever been to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu? The seats on one side of the venue are mounted on tracks, which allows them to roll back for baseball, and in closer for football and soccer.

Duuuuh. Figure it out, geniuses.

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