Friday, June 19, 2009

Lents Gets Their Wish - UPDATE!!

Merritt Paulson has decided to withdraw the plan to put a triple AAA ballpark in Lents, per this letter to the City Council and the Lents URAC. What this means is:

  • The Timbers front office will focus efforts on getting the details done for MLS in time for the 2011 MLS Season, including securing financing to update PGE Park for MLS.
  • The Beavers' future is cloudy at best, but probably not as bad as people might make it out to be. What this means is that the original agreement to get the Beavers a new stadium within Portland would not occur by the September 1st deadline that has been set to secure financing to update PGE Park for soccer.
  • Merritt Paulson is committed to do everything he can to keep the Beavers local, but this now means that they can look at other sites within the local Portland - Vancouver WA area. The only sites that have been reviewed officially were the Memorial Coliseum and Lents Park, and now at this point, the rumored sites are Terminal 3, OMSI area, Vancouver or Beaverton. Other people mention sites like Delta Park, Portland Meadows, or the Greyhound Park in Wood Village, but those sites haven't been mentioned officially just by people on blog entries.
  • Baseball has been here for over 40 years, and I'm not 100 percent about what this means for the future for the Beavers, but we've had baseball leave PGE Park on 4 different occasions, and so losing it again may be a reality again. This also opens up the possibility that other cities might jump to see if they can buy the Beavers from Paulson and move them when the lease is up in 2010.
  • The Memorial Coliseum is still the best stadium site, but it will not be revisited, and Lents Park won't be reconsidered either. Right now, it appears that there might be baseball fans in the area, but they haven't stepped up enough to make their feelings noted.
  • The City Council needs to step up and make some decisions soon, and next week, there will be a discussion of the MLS deal for PGE Park only on Wednesday during their regular meeting. We'll here more about the whole baseball issue as this plays out.
  • In the past 4 decades, Portland has only built two major stadiums within the area within that time, the Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Garden. The Memorial Coliseum was built with minimal investment, and the Rose Garden was paid for mostly by private money from Paul Allen. The history of this city supporting stadium building has been poor at best, and there is nothing to think that it will change.
So Lents gets what they want and the URD money stays where it is, where it's sat for 11 years without minimal projects, and baseball people are having less of a leg to stand on as the attendance numbers don't seem to support Portland as a baseball area while the Timbers put up better numbers. The debate will rage on, and while the Beavers have over 100 years of history, it appears the days of baseball here might be numbered unless something dramatic happens.

Right now, I'm going to put this on the back burner and focus tonight on the Timbers - Thunder because the lads need our support tonight. As much as I'm interested in this, I'm tired of this city and some of our leaders who can't show enough leadership to make a decision and stick with it and instead we now have the possibility of baseball leaving town over the whole mess.

The boys at 955 The Game are talking about it right now, with Wheels and Strong saying the baseball plan to MC was a good idea, while Vance and Allen are upset about the chance of baseball leaving. If you get a chance to podcast it, it's a fascinating listen as it essentially boils the arguments down to what we've all been talking about for the past year.

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