Per someone who attended the Lents Park meeting tonight about the baseball stadium, apparently Dan Saltzman has made up his mind about the financing deal. Apparently, a very organized display was put on for the press tonight, showing people playing soccer and baseball in a very busy Lents Park, and both sides made some points. The people near the park don't seem to want it there, but their reasoning may or may not be solid, but this much we know. If Saltzman has made his decision, we can then focus on moving that forward or coming up with another idea for the baseball park.
But I fear that the days are getting numbered, and the opponents of this are using any and all tactics to get their point across. Tax critics hate the idea of using anything city related to do this, family advocates want parks preserved for kids, and there is worry about the noise, parking, trash, etc, but yet, this could revitalize the area around Lents and give the Beavers a stadium they can actually fill in using only a small portion of the park.
I don't want to be a doom sayer, but if this plan fails, I don't really hold out much hope that Portland will figure it out anytime soon, and Merritt Paulson would then be free to explore other options. Mind you, the Pacific Coast League wants to be here, and I think the town wants baseball to survive, but nobody is sure what to do about it in the long term. And while we wait, MLS is sitting around and waiting for the final plan to be in place.
We do run a serious risk of losing both teams if nothing happens. Other cities are lining up to bring minor league baseball to town, and if a good stadium deal came along for Paulson once his lease is up, why not find a place that doesn't have the issues here. Other cities build stadiums all the time, literally falling all over themselves to bring sports to their town, while Portland is too busy trying to figure out how to make everyone as happy as possible as they go through the exploratory process. This is just a long word that indicates we'll talk, and then talk some more, and then talk more, but whether something could be accomplished remains to be seen. But there is serious competition for the baseball team, and why would the USL agree to keep a single team out here after 2010 when Vancouver moves up, leaving Portland as the only representative in the Pacific Time Zone for the USL? The league couldn't do this and seriously keep a schedule that works, so now you have the very real threat that after 2010, PGE Park goes from having two tenants to having essentially no pro sports.
I'd like to be optimistic about this, and think it's a done deal that only needs the final details figured out. But I never estimated the sheer anger that some Portlanders have about this stadium idea. They don't want taxes spent on it, and will willingly trash anything and everything to make their point. There's no need for civil discourse, let's just come up with more dirt on Paulson and trash him without really trying. These are the same people that don't think sports means anything to the city, yet would fall all over themselves to do anything the Trail Blazers asked of them. I get that people don't like this idea, but so far, I haven't heard of one solid objection that make me stop and think about this being a good idea, but then again, I'm not the one voting. So within 24 hours, we will know the answer, and we can finally answer the question about whether Portland is all about the status quo or are we going to finally think about something bigger.