Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Subtle, but Pointed Reminder

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?

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