Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
I spent my Saturday traveling to that place up north as a guest of the Chicago Fire from the MLS to support them while they played FC Puke Green on Saturday afternoon. We had chartered busses to make the trip up north, and make it back in time for a friendly match here in Portland between the Timbers and Burnley, a recently promoted to the Premiership English team. I've covered most of the highlights on my other blog, and have some photos that I took in both stadiums.
Honestly, the football experiences couldn't have been more night and day from each other. MLS at Qworst was very homogonized, bland, and controlled, while the Timbers was more of a fluid, dynamic experience. I felt that the Timbers and Burnley played a very competitive, aggressive game during a match that really didn't mean much of anything to either side. There was some chances taken, some mistakes made, but it appeared that both sides were playing to win. In the Fire - Flounder match, it seemed like both teams were content to take their shots at only a certain time, and it was very bunker like in the approach. Although, the controlled crowd environment didn't help my sensibilities either.
I've seen matches in England and throughout the United States, and I've never heard of a soccer stadium actually using sound effects and piped in noise to help accentuate the environment. The Shittle USL team used to use sounds like what you would hear at an NBA game to exhort the crowd to cheer, and this year, they use different techniques to make the game experience, well, not like anything I've ever experienced. But then again, most crowds that follow soccer know when to cheer, they sing with their fans, and the noise is rather spontaneous. That's a foreign concept for a lot of arenas in America, where our short attention span audience needs to have things happen all the time to keep their focus on the events at hand. I can see why some soccer teams have resorted to cheerleaders, mascots and other things, which makes me sad, but at the same point, some people need more of a hook than just the game itself.
Which really points me to a discussion from last week about marketing and the MLS, which really has gone away from its early days of marketing to soccer moms and kids and is now going after more of the edgy fans that appreciate things like cheap beer and being able to make noise. It's a delicate balance to market to both groups, but I think that's what teams need to do in order to survive. One of the things that FC Puke Green has done with tickets is ask fans what type of experience they want, and then put the fans in areas with fans that want to do the same thing, like stand for the match or sing songs. It's actually not a bad idea to put fans together in that type of experience, because I think it lessens the chance of someone getting upset about fan actions when they realize the section they are in. No surprises, just an experience that matches what they want.
And that's why I appreciate how hard the Timbers have worked to make the experience more palatable for everyone. There are sections on the west side for fans that want to sit, and families that don't want to hear the salty language that the TA often uses. For the hardcore fans, you have the north end and section 107. Sometimes, you can't make everyone happy with the overall stadium plan, but if I'm the guy in charge, I'm probably not going to upset my loyal fans that come every game and travel on the road to follow their team. While there are some families that do this, more often, it's the single fans with large disposable incomes that have that approach to their fandom, and many of them want a more animated, active approach to being a fan.
What gets in the way of some arguments is an approach taken by the Portland Sportsman, who tries to argue that Portland is a better overall fit for MLS than Shittle, but they take a rather long way about to prove their point. I'm always happy to hear from different perspectives on the fan experience and what people want, but the take needs to be something that works and it doesn't help when your major premise is filled with some rather simple errors. I wouldn't know anything about that, as one of my first posts on my new blog was filled with a couple of bad hiccups. Granted, I thought my research was top notch, until it got shot down with a few well timed comments. I can see the author here is trying to make the same point about a static, controlled environment is going to do well at first but will level out versus something more organic and fluid, but if that is the case, try and make it a bit more simply. For me, all I needed to do was see an MLS game up close as an away supporter and that was enough for me to understand.
Look, I could have went and sat in the regular seats and took it in, and I might have come away with a different take than I did. I might have thought that FC Puke Green isn't so bad and their fans are good at what they do, but then again, when you have a front office that controls every aspect of the environment and the experience is meant to be controlled to produce an expected result, what could you expect from that? Especially if you have a large group of fans that either don't know any better because soccer is new to them, or you have a block of largely disenfranchised sports fans whose team isn't in the area anymore. It just goes back to trust, and whether you trust the product to sell itself. And right now, I don't think that Shittle trusts the product to sell itself, so you have to sell the fan experience, but if that might not be enough, well then resort to making sure it is enough. Seriously, I've never been to a soccer match where a team got booed for earning a draw during a match.
I can't blame some teams for doing this, especially if there's significant investment like many owners are making. As a fan, though, you hope that at some point, the team wakes up and realizes their mistakes and allows the experience to really sell itself, or you find another diversion for your money. Thankfully, the Timbers have the best owner in the business, who gets what it should be about, and I can't wait until we get to show the MLS what we are all about. But we must be very respectful about what we do, because there's a tremendous amount of history that has occured, and it's important to honor that.
You can't talk about great soccer support in America and not talk about the Barra Brava, Section 8 (who are quite top notch fans), or the supporters in Houston who have really taken to their team. These groups have done quite a lot to show what it takes to be great supporters, and without them, you don't have groups like the ECS or Red Patch Boys with their abilities to show their fandom. You can't really see the future without looking towards the past, and I'm thankful that many of the Timbers fans are learning about our history and what we've done to set things up for our future.
But the most encouraging thing I saw on Saturday in our park was an incident that occured after our first goal versus Burnley. George Josten had slotted home a nice ball, and during the celebration after the goal, a guy who I hadn't seen in our section before takes a smoke bomb and throws it onto the pitch. This led to more than a few of us, myself included, to yell at the guy and point him out to security. Apparently, he was talked to later by some of the more seasoned members of the TA and told we don't do that and until you can follow those rules, stay away. What was rumoured to have happened after that was that the guy tried to turn himself into security and they told him that we'll let the Timbers Army deal with you.
This is a far different cry than the end of the 2006 season with the Flare Bears or the infamous exhibition match with Toronto FC with a few guest players that remain nameless. We talk with our front office, and they listen to what we have to say, and decisions are made with those thoughts in mind. I don't expect the team to do everything we suggest, but at the same time, they are listening to us. And we are doing our part by reaching out to the community and by taking care of issues like what happened on Saturday. MLS is going to be a huge success here, not just because we have the passion for it, but we have the forethought to make this something truly special.
Friday, July 24, 2009
The City Council had passed the financing bill for PGE Park to refurbish it to a soccer/football only facility, and the Timbers were playing for first place in the USL First Division against Puerto Rico. The vote on the financing took place about 5:30 pm, and by the time the final votes were done, girl and I were cutting it close to get to the stadium to get our seats in Row N. But it didn't matter, because we got the votes we needed. 4 affirmative, 1 negative, and MLS now has a future here, and I still believe in baseball's future here too, as long as a home can be found, and it looks like Beaverton is angling for the team and has the best chance now. As I listened to the testimony and speeches, I was struck about the fact this was a pipe dream just over a year ago, and now it's one step away from reality. There's a final vote in September once the final designs and financing are figured out, but Thursday's vote is really the point of no return. In two years time, MLS teams will be coming to Portland, seeing what the Puerto Rico Islanders were faced with.
A crowd of 14,000 fans, all excited, and ready to go. The game itself was fairly balanced and well paced, both teams took their shots to score but played within themselves, and in the end, it was a scoreless draw. Ok, that happens in soccer, but the enthusiasm wasn't dampened by this at all. The Timbers Army did a tifo display for Scot Thompson, who became the franchises' all time games played leader, and he had already earned the record for most minutes played, so the TA wanted to do something for the team's emotional leader. And his play on the pitch didn't disappoint, as he kept Puerto Rico's forwards at bay all night. Steve Cronin came up big as usual, and the defense played very well, as we saw two first place teams that really tried to do what they do best, but ended up being countered by another team that can match them. Puerto Rico may have speed in the mids and defense, but they can't match Portland's creativity and discipline, and both teams have top notch keeping, which means you're going to need to do something special to score.
But on this night, it didn't matter the score. It didn't matter that I had forgotten to do a match report for the big match, it didn't matter about anything more than just being part of something special. There was a lot of people that worked very hard to get MLS here, and these people continue to support the current USL team with all of their heart, mind, soul and wallets. It was a true honor to see a lot of people realize what many of us TA already know, this team and this sport are for real, and Thursday night, 14,000 people witnessed another rebirth of soccer in Portland. And for me, having a true dream to be a sportscaster and write and talk about my sports and teams, it was truly overwhelming to see that my dream had come true. I'm truly blessed to be part of such a great group of fans, and love a team that is so much more than just a bunch of guys playing soccer. It's nice to see some others start to get it.
Tomorrow, we have a big day in Shittle to help our friends from the Chicago Fire cheer on their boys versus FC Puke Green, and then the Timbers face Burnley in a friendly at PGE Park on Saturday night. I"ll have my take and attempted pictures from the whole thing up, and you can also view my writing about last night for the O-Live world.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
1032 Adopt findings and authorize an exemption to the competitive bidding process for development of a Major League Soccer Stadium, pursuant to ORS 279C.330 and City Code Sections 5.34.810 and 5.34.820 (Second Reading Agenda 987)
1033 Authorize sole source acquisition and execution of a contract with Peregrine Sports, LLC for a Predevelopment Agreement and Operating Agreement for a Major League Soccer Stadium (Second Reading Agenda 988)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
At least one city gets it, and is trying to do something. Beaverton has been trying to forge an identity in the metro area for years, and so far, it's been the headquarters of the swoosh, and traffic. Beaverton has been one of the fastest growing suburbs of Portland for years, mostly because of their good schools, abundant land, and up until recently, available jobs. However, the density has caused a bit of sprawl, the schools are starting to struggle with extra kids in the classroom, and people can't seem to drive anywhere easily. Well, that's the perception anyway.
Beaverton is actually a nice town, proud of its area, and is full of people that are interested in improving their region. Many time, school measures have passed there simply because the taxpayers want to help their schools, or even general services when needed. I can imagine it's tough being a suburban city put in the shadow of Portland, which dominates the landscape and attention. Beaverton does a lot of good things for its residents, but I think often times, it gets lost in the static and not recognized for being a progressive, thoughtful city. Getting a baseball team to Beaverton might just get rid of some of the inferiority complex, and actually give people a reason from outside the area to visit.
But I will give them the biggest credit of all in this situation. They wanted baseball, and they had the courage to write to Merritt Paulson and ask, even promoting a few stadium ideas in the process. Considering how Paulson has been treated at a lot of meetings in the area around here, plus his now famous interaction with the Lents neighborhood, I can imagine it's a wonderful feeling to be wanted, and be treated positively. Sounds like it's a match made in baseball heaven.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I couldn't have said it better myself. Portland has an identity crisis, and we can't seem to figure out what we want in terms of sports in our long term future. The author points to the city up north as the poster child of getting things done for their teams.
Well, I'd hate to point out what happened to their former NBA team, but I think the issue there was a combination of apathy, anti-government forces, a city that wasn't sure why an arena needed to be upgraded when it was done a few years prior, a hated owner, and the NBA secretly involved with the change. I can't imagine the league really wanting to lose a top 20 TV market for their team, but they approved the move and we are where we are at. But, the city and team ownership has stepped up to help the Mariners and Seahawks with their various stadiums, and the city has done some forward thinking, which doesn't seem to be in short supply here.
Granted, there are some factors that helped with this situation. The 1995 vote to provide tax funds for the Mariners new ballpark happened just after the magical 1995 playoff run, and the end vote was really close, even with the renewed baseball interest. Qwest Field, just like the Rose Garden, was mostly paid for by Paul Allen with some involvement from the city with tax benefits and infrastructure changes. That playoff run doesn't happen, the Mariners are actually playing elsewhere, and we miss the 2001 historical season, the train noises in Safeco, Ichiro, none of it. It's also likely that the Seahawks would still be playing in the Kingdome, which had all the charm of a cave and the smells of the forest all indoors for everyone to enjoy.
But the key point of Portland not having the moxie to make something like this happen couldn't be more true. The original plan to bring baseball to the Memorial Coliseum and refurbish PGE Park for soccer was visionary, and took care of a need for MLS and helped upgrade the Rose Quarter from the doldrums it currently suffers from. But some short sighted architects and the Trail Blazers threw a monkey wrench in the plan, and the City Council blinked. It does appear that at least one city commissioner, Randy Leonard, is still interested in putting baseball at the MC, and I think he's got the right idea. The baseball plan would solve the ghost town the RQ is now, give the veterans a more usable and vibrant memorial, and revitalize an area that simply put, should be doing more than it is now. But, instead of us talking about this plan and getting excited, we sit 6 months later with the MC still standing, and more talk about what to do with it. My hope is that the city can stop with the blue sky conversations, and come up with something useful and tangible. I'd love to see some of the moxie from up north here, as long as they keep that god awful green color to themselves.
EDIT - At least one suburb has already stepped up to lure the Beavers there. Can you guess which one?
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The Trail Blazers spent so much time pumping music and distractions out there, it's loud at most points, but it's artificial as they don't want any idle time at all during the game. The Timbers are loud and boisterous, but that has a lot to do with the antics of the Army, chanting, singing, and generally having a good time. Baseball hearkens back to a different age, where the clock doesn't matter and things move at their own pace. While this might work for many baseball fans who have grown up around the game, there were plenty of fans that decided texting or surfing on their phones was a better use of time. Plus, there were plenty of people that just couldn't sit for more than an inning, moving from getting food to walking around to going to the loo to whatever. For some, baseball is the death of the short attention spanned world, because it can drag at points. Granted, there are some nuances that are fun to watch, the chess game between pitcher and batter, the strategy on the bases, and the outguessing that goes on, but honestly, if you didn't catch it or understand it, it would be lost on you. Much like the subtle part of soccer that most detractors point to as reasons to hate soccer, if you missed the strategy of the game, it can be boring.
But what last night proved more than anything is that Portlanders love an event, and last night certainly was one. From the anthem done by Storm Large who did an amazing, understated job in her rendition, to the flag display in center field, to the Chicken's antics, it was a large scale undertaking, and for a game that was played for little more than pride and entertainment, the players and the PGE Park staff didn't disappoint. We were greeted by our server right as we walked to our club seats, and Nick did a great job of taking care of us all night. I got some great pictures that I will share later tonight after downloading them, but overall, here are my memories and thoughts about the night:
- The game itself ended 6 to 5 for the International League, but it was a true back and forth affair, as noted in the Oregonian. The PCL fell behind, but rallied with two runs late, and got things close. Both managers used their benches extensively, as I believe everyone got to play for both sides.
- Chad Huffman played very well, and represented Portland and the Beavers well. He was smiling, laughing, and just having a good time playing in his home park, and it was great to see the team represented so well. Scott Patterson also pitched well in relief, representing the Beavers as well.
- Girl and I had a crappy day in our jobs, and so we tried to put forth some positive karma for the evening. After striking out on parking near the Mission Theater, we moved closer to PGE Park, and drove up 17th. As we got stuck in a traffic line, someone was leaving and gave up a parking spot near the Cheerful Bullpen, and we were able to swoop on it before anyone noticed. Then during the game, Girl was the lucky recipient of the first foul ball of the night in the first inning, as a ball was hit foul and tossed into the crowd. It glanced off her shoulder, bounced off her margarita drink in the cup holder, and then plopped into her laugh. And it's a special ball, carrying the Triple AAA All-Star logo on it, it was a rather pleasant surprise. Karma is pretty cool.
- The Chicken's shtick was predictable, but it played really well for the crowd. Even after all these years, he brings it and the crowd was mesmerized by his act. Mascots could learn a thing or two from him, he's still got something special.
- I still think the Albuquerque Isotopes is the coolest team name in baseball.
- Girl, S3K and I spent a great deal of time talking about the stadium, the Timbers, MLS and why baseball would be great in a slightly different environment. The stadium photographs very well (Tight Jeans said this, and I agree with him for once), but it's cramped in parts, the concourses are still too small once the crowd tops 10,000, and there are some rather bad seats in parts of the stadium including some obstructed seats. The Beavers could really do well with a slightly smaller, but more baseball appropriate venue.
- At least some people felt that PGE Park was good enough last night, just like heaven. I'm not sure I would go that far, but it was good to see.
- I'm glad to see that Rick Burk got his chance to show off his skills, calling the game. He's a passionate, knowledgeable baseball guy, and he's very good at his craft. He deserves a shot at the big time, but I'm happy to see him stay with the small fish here for a while. We're lucky to have him.
- The most interesting comments I read after the game was from PCL president Branch Rickey, who indicated that Portland was an important market for the PCL, but the stadium location isn't so much of a concern. Rickey realizes the issues with PGE Park being too large and cavernous at points, and seems very aware of the MLS efforts, but still supports this town for baseball. I can imagine that Merritt Paulson is keeping him looped in on everything going on.
I'll post my pictures later tonight, and I'm also working on my next piece for Oregon Live, which will be posted there later today. So far, I'm enjoying my work for the Timbers Blog, and hopefully, I'll be able to provide some insight on the team and the history of things from my own warped perspective. Give it a read, and let me know your thoughts.
And finally, I'll have a big announcement coming soon about something at PGE Park, which could be extremely epic!!! I'm hoping to get it done by this weekend!!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Portland is hosting the 2009 Triple AAA All Star Game this week at PGE Park, and it's really started a lot of discussion about the current stadium issue facing the Portland Beavers. With MLS coming to town in 2011, the Beavers are looking for a new home in the Portland area, one that works better for them than the cavernous stadium that is PGE Park. And while the stadium looked good last night with a crowd of 9,200 watching the events, the crowd looked a bit sparse in the nearly 19,000 seat stadium. As I looked about to the crowd, I did see a couple of Beavers jerseys and more than a few caps, but I saw more Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, Cubs, and Mariners gear than anything else.
In an editorial piece in today's Oregonian, Ralph Nelson talks about the Beavers and their history and who is standing up for them in this whole stadium issue. He talks a lot about the old Beavers and Vaughn Stadium, and the old days when baseball was more of an event in town, and now baseball struggles with becoming irrelevant. And in today's busy sports world with more choices out there, it seems like baseball struggles to keep an audience with some of the younger fans. I remember spending a lot of days in my childhood playing baseball with neighborhood kids for hours, and it was played because it was fun. Now in the current world, it seems that youth sports is more of an outlet to filter the better talented kids into other programs so that they can follow the path to success. You see less and less chances for kids to play sports because they want to have fun, everything is more about competition and tournaments, and parents paying a lot of costs. There's a lot of lessons to be learned about changing youth sports away from being fun, but for the purposes here, what also is apparent is that Portland is a baseball town, but not a Beavers town.
I recall following this team back in the 1980s and early 1990 when they were affiliated with the Twins, and the crowds came out about the same as they do now. But I also recall seeing some players stay with the team for quite a while, like Chip Hale and Bernardo Brito, and the media coverage was pretty good as you could read about the team, see box scores, and see highlights on the sports reports. The team was run on a shoestring budget, but it was still somewhat successful until Salt Lake lured the Beavers away with promises of a new stadium. The Rockies came to town, bringing Single A ball to town, and the city ate it up, as Jack Cain really marketed the team and players well. And when the Beavers finally returned in 2001, it seemed like things might be different with a refurbished stadium and a commitment to winning. But in being affiliated with San Diego, the Beavers have seen players come and go quite a bit, and the crowds, while they still come, only show up on big event nights, like opening night, fireworks nights, and the All-Star Game. Baseball is struggling to remain relevant here, and I can say that it's tough to market baseball here.
Triple AAA baseball by virtue is fill of players that are either on the career decline and still want to play baseball and have talent, or young kids with a wish to be playing in San Diego. If you really had a choice as a baseball player, nobody is really wanting to play in Portland and make it a long term career here. We also have the Mariners and their marketing influence that have gained them a lot of fans willing to travel 3 hours to watch games. We also watch a lot of baseball, having some of the best television ratings for baseball where there isn't an MLB team. Part of that is people moving here that keep their allegiance to an MLB team they've followed in a previous location, another part is Mariner fans, but another part is people that remain convinced that Portland could support MLB and want to watch to help the cause. As has been noted here, Portland lacks the corporate support necessary to support MLB, and I think the price tag of an MLB stadium would make opponents of the MLS stadium deal completely go nuts if the city even thought of spending that much to bring baseball here. MLB came calling a while back when the Expos were looking for a home, but honestly, I'm not sure we were ever being seriously considered. It was a ploy to get Washington DC to step up and get a stadium, which they did.
I get that people want MLB baseball here badly, and it's never been proven that support from a Triple AAA team correlates to successfully support MLB, but what I'm frustrated by in terms of baseball fans is not even remotely supporting what we do have here. Instead of actually going to games or investing time in learning about players, it appears that some baseball fans would prefer to show up only when there is an event. Instead of investing in what we have, we pine for something that may or may not come. I understand that it's tough to follow a team where guys move around all the time, but the experience is very similar, the ticket prices are a bit less than MLB, and you can actually get up close and personal with these guys if you want to. And usually, the Beavers have some other entertainment or promotion if you have kids or other people that need more than baseball to just show up. I wished that baseball was enough for people to come and support this team, but it seems like it's not enough. Last night was a good crowd, and it was great to see the park full of people, but the crowds should be appearing more often.
And now baseball fans feel railroaded by the MLS efforts, as if it's a tragedy that baseball is being forced out over soccer. I wish their voices would have been part of the conversations about PGE Park, but instead, most baseball fans remained silent while a lot of MLS fans voiced their thoughts. And with PGE Park's set up with an L shape, it made more sense to complete the horseshoe and find baseball a new home. Now with the decoupling of the efforts, baseball has been left to flounder on its own while MLS moves forward. For someone like myself who loves soccer and has always been a baseball fan, it's tough for me to watch this because I feel that baseball deserves a stadium that works for the team in Portland. I know that baseball has a market here, but I wished that baseball fans stood up and let the City Council know that baseball matters here.
What is interesting is with the stadium talks, some different ideas are being bantered around while one idea that was on the table but pulled off is getting some attention back. Steve Duin is stating today that the Memorial Coliseum is the right place to put a baseball stadium, and of the ideas that have been thrown out there, this one has always made the most sense. The Trail Blazers and some architectural folks cried foul about the MC being pulled down, and soon after, we watched the Lents Park fiasco play out in the media. If the building is going to lie there and not be refurbished or the limitations addressed of the MC, it makes sense to explore other uses. And the last thing this city needs is an entertainment complex near the RG that may or may not draw people there with shops and restaurants that are available at a lot of other places around town. Now that the talk is looking that it might cost a whole lot of money to get the MC upgraded to stay relevant or even more money to build a mall complex there, it makes sense to explore the idea of putting the baseball park there. It just makes sense, and what I'm often remembering about this place is that sometimes the more things change, the things stay the same and ideas have a way of reappearing when you least expect it.
And it also seems like some of the more vocal opponents of the stadium deal are being shown for the flaws in their argument. One of the more vocal opponents, Jack Bog, has been found to have some faulty parts to his arguments against the MLS deal. Bog has also been talking about crowd sizes in the USL (which can be scary), weather issues in Portland affecting baseball (What? You just moved here), and why MLB will work, yet MLS won't. Being someone that has watched the facts from the beginning, it's nice to see a lot of the facts of the case being fleshed out, and shown to the public. Granted, if you aren't a sports fan, I don't think there's anything that could be said to convince you that investing in MLS would work for the city except for one. Sports are one of the things that help make a larger city more livable by providing entertainment options, and as long as cities own facilities, they will be asked to help invest in those buildings. And if I'm going to have a big project to refurbish stadiums, I'm going to pull in as many experts as I can to help the cause, especially if they have experience in a project like this. And while I can find fault in the arguments presented, a unexpected consequence of this is causing more talk about baseball, and making sure it has a future here. It's a welcome discussion, and one that I hope provides fruitful results to keep baseball in the Rose City. And nice work, Chad Huffman, not only did you represent Portland well, but it was good to see you win the home run derby in your own home park.
Post script - the Room is getting more attention. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
I love my wife a lot, and don't mean to drive her nuts, but it seems like when I'm trying my best not to bug her, I do my best job of driving her insane. It seems to happen a lot right before big events or vacations, as both of us are trying to scramble and get last minute things done, I often get a little scatterbrained trying to remember all of the details and ever changing priorities. And while I do drive her nuts, I've never loved anyone quite as much as I love her. She'll probably gag reading that, but at the same point, it's now on the Interwebs for permanence.
I'm a somewhat recovering fantasy geek, which is difficult to say when I'm still participating in two baseball leagues and a soccer league while waiting for football, English soccer and basketball to show up. I first played in a football league back in 1992 ran by my good friend Obi, and although I broke every drafting rule in the book by drafting players from my hometown teams, I won the league in my first year. This led to me being rather cocky when I joined a basketball league that he also ran in 1993, which followed an auction style draft and a salary cap. And needless to say, it was a train wreck. Whatever strategy I had in place fell apart early, and I made some rather dumb mistakes, and ended up with a team that probably couldn't have won a high school game. Although I've stayed with football over the years, I'm less apt to follow my old strategy of watching hours and hours of games non stop and turn my Sunday into a 100 percent non productive day.
I think the reason for my recovery is that simply I'm getting to the point of informational overload and I'm trying to remember why playing fantasy sports was fun. We've all had the discussions of seeing our favorite team sign this guy or that other guy and watching it implode, all the while saying we could do better. Fantasy sports gave people a window into that world, being able to create a team of whomever you wanted for competition, and you could put your strategy to use. However, fantasy sports are nothing like the real world, because in fantasy sports, you only have to be concerned with injuries and bad play. You don't have to worry so much about locker room chemistry, agents and a player's posse, salary issues, and other distractions that real GMs have to deal with. Plus, when I first started playing, you had a limited amount of magazines and sites for information, but now, well, you have information explosion with numerous sites and magazines that talk about fantasy sports. You can even sign up for fantasy golf and NASCAR.
If people want to know about fantasy sports, I will tell them that it's enjoyable, and if you have a good league with great people, that really helps as well. But at the same point, it's important to keep the game in perspective, because you can be obsessed with stats and information, and it can be consuming. I can honestly say that last football season, I watched parts of maybe 6 regular season games all year, and the Super Bowl was the only game I watched from kickoff to the final gun. Sure, I check the sites and make sure that my guys aren't broken or mired in the land of terribleness, but at the same point, it's a game and my passions are moving towards more reality. However, it's still nice to dream sometimes, and so it will always remain something I'm interested in. Who doesn't dream about having millions of dollars to do with what they want? For me, it's simple, I'd buy the Trail Blazers, West Ham United and the Timbers, and create dominant teams in footy and basketball. Well, and that traveling thing.
- $31mil total financing plan (down from $38mil):
- $19.1mil from Merritt Paulson:
- $11.1 mil for prepaid rent for the years 2008 thru 2025
- $8mil upfront cash
- $11.9mil from CoP
- $11.2mil from SFF
- $0.7mil soft contributions
- Merritt covers all cost overruns over the first $1 million
- Merritt covers SFF bond repayment should MLS underperform attendance or money wise
It's creative, it's using some of the existing revenue streams, and it's not tapping any urban renewal funds, which was a sore spot for some. Granted, fixing up a ballpark can be a trigger for urban development, but that's an argument that doesn't have to be dealt with here. The taxpayer risk is negligible, as the Spectator Fund, which already has $6 million in reserves and is continually growing as events come to town, backs the bonds and is one of the more stable funds
I feel very good for the fans of soccer, who have worked really hard to bring their sport to town, and provided a lot of support to the initiative through emails, attending meetings, letter writing, canvassing, and other public rallies. MLS is excited to come to town, and I think after seeing the Timbers – Flounders match last week, I know why. Soccer will be a success here. And I appreciate the city council, for negotiating a deal that everyone could live with, putting most of the risk of the project on the people using the facility. It's not easy to please everyone, but this is a project that I think most people can live with. Sure, there are naysayers abound that hate any public expenditure like this, but at the same time, they would hate almost anything you would put in front of them that spends city money for anything they would conceive as frivolous.
But I urge the council to now turn your attention on finding a home for baseball. Granted, the fans of this sport haven't been as organized or vocal, but
Finally, I know what I want for Christmas. May the force be with you, lightly browned on both sides.
Monday, July 6, 2009
What: Portland City Council Vote for MLS
When: 2:00 p.m.
Thursday July 9 2009
Where: Portland City Hall
What a week for soccer in PDX!
If there was any doubt that MLS would be a runaway hit in Portland, those doubts were laid to rest with 17,000 people selling out PGE Park on Wednesday night that showed the world why we are called Soccer City USA.
But we are not done yet. We have a final hurdle to clear.
As you are probably aware we took an important step several weeks ago when the City Council voted to decouple baseball and soccer and move forward on finalizing the deal to bring MLS to PDX.
This coming Thursday City Council is slated to take up three important final votes that are key hurdles in finalizing the deal between Merritt Paulson and the City:
1) Bidding Exemption
2) Pre-Development Agreement
3) Financing Package
The bidding exemption and pre-development agreement are important legal requirements that allow Paulson to start retaining contractors and turning dirt over at PGE. They will also likely be voting on the financing package that will pay for the PGE park remodel. At this time we have not seen the final package but it is our understanding that it retains all of the protections for taxpayers, the general fund and essential services that the earlier proposed agreement had while still providing the funding necessary to bring MLS to PDX.