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Monday, June 1, 2009

Lents stadium foes to meet Wednesday night

This just in:

Friends of Lents Park to hold meeting Wednesday

Friends of Lents Park, a grassroots organization of Lents area residents seeking to save Lents Park as an open, accessible neighborhood asset 365 nights a year, will meet Wednesday, June 3, to discuss its opposition to a plan to close parts of the park.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the gazebo at Lents Park, which would have to be moved to make way for the risky 9,000-seat stadium planned for the Portland Beavers.

Construction of a stadium could cost the Lents Urban Renewal Area about $42 million, money which would otherwise be spent on developing new businesses in the neighborhood, and making home ownership more affordable for prospective Lents residents.

At the same time, a stadium would make parts of Lents Park inaccessible on 72 game nights a year. Neighbors of the park would no longer see children playing baseball outside their windows, instead being forced to look at stadium spotlights and listen to public address announcements lasting well past 10 p.m.

"While a stadium is being pitched as a panacea for development in Lents, history has shown that minor league stadiums outside of downtown areas do not spur development," said Nick Christensen, a Lents resident and group member. "The stadium plan is based on too many suppositions and too much risk to Lents residents, while Merritt Paulson has little-to-nothing invested in the economic growth of the neighborhood around Lents Park."

Lents Park is a 38-acre green gem in the heart of Lents. It features walking paths, playgrounds, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, basketball courts and a community garden — all of which are teeming with activity most days of the week. It also has hundreds of old trees, many of which would be cut down for construction of a stadium.

Friends of Lents Park
Contact: Nick Christensen, lentspark@gmail.com

Comments (8)

Anyone who's been to a professional sporting event recently knows that it's the owner's practice to shake every last cent out of you inside the ballpark or arena -- not at businesses outside. When was the last time you bought anything (except a parking space) on the way to or from a sporting event? I can't remember ever doing so myself -- at least not since the souvenir stands outside Yankee Stadium when I was a little kid.

What??? I thought that the Oregonian and Randy Leonard told us the whole Lents neighborhood was behind this.

I am shocked, shocked.

It's only the people who've lived in Lents since before the Tram. You know, little people. But, they're bona fide!

Go curl some hose, Randy. Just don't confuse it with Merritt's "five-foot boa constrictor in his home office," eh?

Take off!

Actually, Jack, there are a lot of food vendors outside of Safeco field in Seattle. I suppose they all pay rent to the Mariners, but they seem independent. The bars in Pioneer Square down the street do big business on game days.

So I would imagine that the New Copper Penny and the strip clubs in Lents would do big business when the Beavers play there.

A more apt bit of information would be how the bars around PGE Park do on Beavers game nights.

The bars around "Civic Stadium" didn't see a penny from me last week, after paying $16.50 for two beers at the ballpark.

I'm sure all the strip joints along 82nd welcome the friendly competition from the professional Beavers.

Safeco and Qwest Field are surrounded by a lot of little businesses that do see some action on game day. They predated the stadium, so while I can't say for certain, judging by how some of them are in old converted warehouses or in nearby Pioneer Square, they don't pay any rent to the sports teams.

But drive by them when nothing's going on, for example, and it's a ghost town. If there's a convention at the Qwest field event center, maybe one or two will open up, but that's it.

Now, the stadium area isn't exactly a neighborhood like Lents is.. but, I just can't see this being the incredible business boom that Lents needs. Let's face it: people are going to drive in for the game and park as close as they possibly can, or use the lot/shuttle and go right to the stadium, and not once touch some of the neighboring businesses. Maybe transit users might, but how many is that going to be? Plus, people basically don't drive to PGE Park as it is now. If they build a new stadium with "ample" parking, people are going to drive, and bypass all the local shops.

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