Wednesday, June 24, 2009

City Council Vote

So today, the Portland City Council discussed the official resolution to decouple the soccer and baseball plans. This bit of procedure means that both sports and their stadium issues could be deal with separately, rather than try to figure out all the specifics ahead of the September 1st deadline. This also allows Merritt Paulson to check out other sites for the baseball stadium in the area, such as Terminal 1 or Portland Meadows, and still meet the August 1st deadline.
And the vote was just completed with a 4 to 1 affirmative vote to allow decoupling, with Commissioners Leonard, Fish, Saltzman, and Mayor Adams voting yes, and Fritz voting no.
Interesting observations as I listened to the testimony:
  • The September 1st deadline was discussed as the deadline for the framework for the MLS stadium plan to be in place to turn PGE Park into a soccer specific stadium.
  • Part of the public testimony was a news story from KGW about FC Puke Green and their success. I even heard their minority owner, Adrian Hanauer, say great things about Portland and he wants to see us get MLS. They're still bitter rivals, but it's nice to hear them say nice things and their success does help our case.
  • The topic of a shared stadium did come up, asked by Commissioner Fish. Don Mazziotti, consultant for the Perrigrin group, mentioned that they did explore ideas for creating portable seating in PGE Park, but the biggest issue against it is the retaining wall along 18th Avenue. This wall also provides support for the MAX trains that go through the area, and any portable seating arrangements would adversely affect the retaining wall, which in turn also affects the MAX. MLS asks for their stadiums to have seating on both sides of the pitch, and so we couldn't just leave the footprint as is.
  • Portland State Football, which largely has been ignored in this discussion, was talked about at great length today. An upgraded PGE Park would allow them to schedule bigger games within their schedule, and explore the possibility of moving the program to Division 1 in another league if they desire. PSU benefits with having a new football field, and as much as colleges and their athletic programs are intertwined, this could help their bottom line.
  • The Timbers Army was talked about in glowing terms, for our work in the community for Habitat and Doernbechers, as well as mention of the new Timbers Army 2.0, which will do more work in the community while supporting our team. I heard both Commissioners Fish and Saltzman say they were impressed with what the TA does, and we're not the hooligans that they originally thought.

There's still much work to be done, as there is the $15 million dollar hole that needs to be filled in financing, and there is some hesitancy in using urban renewal dollars to pay for large portions of the change, but the plan allows those discussions to move forward while also looking at baseball separately and try to find a location that works for them in the immediate Portland area. When asked by Fish about baseball staying in Oregon, Mazziotti indicated that Paulson remains committed to the long term future of baseball here in the Portland area, and doesn't want to see the team leave. So for another day, there's more encouraging news, which is good for MLS, good for baseball and good for Portland.



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