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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Before Henry Merritt and Charles Randy's New York honeymoon

Back in the days before he realized that he could take Portland taxpayers for a ride because its City Council is so dopey, Little Lord Paulson used to sing the praises of PGE Park as a perfectly wonderful place to play baseball. Local troublemaker Peter Apanel, who's done some homework on this, writes:

My favorite Paulson quote is from the Biz of Baseball website, which posted a lengthy Q&A with Paulson, dated August 14, 2007. When asked about the pros and cons of playing in PGE Park, including the greater-than-average seating capacity, Paulson replied, "Far more benefits than negatives. I mean, most teams would kill for a downtown location like this in a city as big as Portland."

Then in The Oregonian, on April 15, Paulson had an op-ed piece that described PGE Park as poorly designed for baseball. Paulson wrote, "Regrettably, most of the seats are too far from the field to create the kind of intimate, close-to-the-action experience fans want."

A few days later, I sent an e-mail to Galen Barnett, the online op-ed editor for The Oregonian, with two diagrams of Fenway Park from a 1961 baseball guidebook, which show that PGE Park is a virtual clone of Fenway Park. Barnett posted those diagrams around April 21....

Then there is the matter of the park's suitability, in its current configuration, for soccer. Apanel continues:
PGE Park's official website is also a great source for quotes.

On June 12, 2003, a press release on PGE Park's website said, "PGE Park is regarded as one of the premier soccer venues in the country." It went on to describe PGE Park as a "world-class" venue, the first stadium to ever be chosen by FIFA to host matches in consecutive FIFA World Cup events (the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup).

Apparently a world-class FIFA venue isn't good enough for MLS.

PGE Park's website also boasts about its staff's ability to quickly convert the stadium from one sport to another. In the case of baseball to football, the conversion has taken as little as three hours. Meanwhile, in [MLS commissioner] Garber's letter to [city commissioner] Saltzman, Garber writes, "There is no cost-effective method to convert from baseball to soccer that provides a professional quality field."

On the conversion point, Apanel offers this:

Paulson wants seating for soccer at field level in the east end of the stadium, which is the only substantive issue standing between the Timbers and Beavers continuing to share PGE Park. One interesting point to note is that a soccer field is up to 80 feet wider than a football field, so the distance between the far sideline for soccer and the left field fence is actually far shorter than most people imagine. (If you look up PGE Park on Yahoo Maps, then click on the satellite image, the photo they use happens to show the overlapping outlines for baseball, football, and soccer.) So, it would be fairly easy to come up with a plan to have removable seats that could be set up for soccer, and then removed for baseball. As an example of what's possible, look at the Rose Garden, where the first 10 rows all the way around the arena are removable. And keep in mind that even with overlapping baseball and soccer schedules, there would only be 10 times each season when those seats would have to be changed out. That's nothing compared to what a major touring rock band goes through on a nightly basis. And then, after the end of baseball season, those seats could be left up for PSU football games.

And on and on it goes, when you start vetting Paulson's and Garber's claims. I've been looking for a polite word that means "bulls**t," and the best word I've come up with so far is "specious," which Webster's Dictionary defines as something without merit.

Ah, but not without Merritt.

Comments (9)

fornicate; masticate; redecorate
That is what happens after the honeymoon.

I think Sam, Dan, and Randy have a rare opportunity here to go down as the dumbest city council in history.

Think of the context: Henry Paulson helps blow up the economic universe and then jumps to Treasury where he lets the Wall Street firms fleece America of billions to cover his - and his Wall Street fat cats' - own mess.

The entire country faces ruin, and there's much more to come, but it's not enough for our 3 geniuses here. No, they have to spend months figuring out a way to get fleeced even more. They genuflect to Paulson's kid who's got a vision of sports in Portland that he apparently just pulled out of his ass. The kid is winging it completely but our team is wowed. This is the kind of thing we need right now!

Our award-winning newspaper sends its sports columnist to investigate and he determines everything is fine because Merritt comes to the door barefoot.

The council has gotten the Paulson religion. Our 3 Wise Men have seen the light, despite the persistent feeling that the kid doesn't have a clue what he's doing and his vaunted baseball team can't outdraw an afternoon screening of "Land of the Lost."

No matter. Special quantum physics is applied to the attendance numbers showing the presence of thousands of additional fans who are invisible to the naked eye.

Our city council is impressed. They have witnessed a miracle. They kneel, expecting Merritt to come forth and feed the imaginary multitudes with fish and bread. Darn - the council frets - if only the concession stands were better. If only the experience were more intimate.

A voice is heard to comfort the council: "Do not worry - nothing is more intimate than getting screwed." The council finds new strength to go on.

Our trio drinks the sacred Kool-aid and prepares to give an offering to the Boy King.

They talk softly amongst themselves about how they have seen many great things. They proudly declare that the whole world will one day look upon Portland with new respect and admiration. For behold: Two stadiums where one used to do the job by itself!

Go forth, guys! Dazzle us with your brains. Destiny awaits and a star has appeared. Time to get on the camels and take many millions to the Messiah of Lake Oswego.

This is the best post that you have shared in regards to this topic. It is amazing how the spin is spun. There is not suitable substitute for the word "bulls**t". The time to be polite is gone and you must call it as it is. You really should read this post at a council meeting.

The project beast must eat, right, Bill?

There's something fishy about the fact that MLS franchises cost $10M in 2006, $20M in 2007, $30M in 2008, and $40M in 2009. Why in the world would Paulson pay $10M more for his franchise than the two franchises sold last year? Does Lil' Lord P expect something from Garber in exchange for that extra $10M? It also doesn't make sense for Garber to make ultimatums in this recession. All this suggests that Garber's rejection of PGE Park for MLS is really coming from Paulson. Perhaps Paulson and Garber have a deal where Paulson's franchise fee varies depending on the COP's contribution to the plan. If PGE Park is used, then Paulson gets $10M back, but if Paulson gets a new stadium and other goodies, Garber will have earned the extra $10M, and no portion of the $40M would be returned.

City Council should investigate this possibility and have it covered by a warranty from Paulson. Regardless of whether or not Paulson and Garber have a side deal, City Council should stick with PGE park. While they're at it, they should get MLS to share the pain, and squeeze $10M more from Paulson, by conditioning approval of the deal on Paulson paying a reduced franchise fee of $30M.

The COP could be driving a harder bargain. Instead, MLS is set to walk away with $40M after handing us all a magic bean.

the facts are plentiful and easily available that disprove the "economic benefit" of such a deal. there will not be "hundreds of living wage jobs" added. there will not be meaningful long-term benefit to Lents, or Portland, or anybody, really--except Paulson and his investment group.

the facts are plentiful and easily available that disprove the "need" to build a new stadium or restructure PGE Park.

Paulson, Leonard, and Adams all know this. if they don't they might be denser than even the harshest critics label them.

the reasons for the dealmaking don't matter; Leonard and Adams' hard sell of such a thing tells me all I need to know. to put so much effort, gag-inducing publicity and taxpayer money into such a project can only mean one of two things:

(1) they're dumb, or

(2) they think we are.

I don't remember what happened with the nominations for the Good Guys list, but I'd like to throw Peter Apanel's name into the running as a Good Guy if you do it again.

I wouldn't call Randy dumb.

Unfortunately, I think he is bored and annoying as many people as he can while he plays big with other people's money is number one on his agenda. I mean 80% of the stuff he does, you can hear the "go ahead and try and stop me."

Really sad that this is what passes for leadership, much less mgmt.

Remember what Forrest Gump's mother said: "Stupid is as stupid does."

If we're paying for two failed stadiums as the years roll on Randy, Sam and Dan will be in dunce caps in their official portraits.

It only seems right that Council members would answer the questions and comments Apanel has made. Why is it when we have controversial issues that public figures and especially our Council never even begin to reply to the obvious. They deserve answers.

But I think I know why they don't-they can't answers without an obvious spin. The taxpayers are beginning to get the picture, even without the media's help.

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