Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quandary of Conscience

I'm having a rather tough day all the way around, but it's probably not for the obvious reason one might expect. I don't like leaving the bowling alley after our Tuesday match and realize half way home that I failed to sign out at the lounge, so my card was still there. I don't like being frustrated at myself or being frustrated at girl, who tried her level best to distract me from my self-pity to no avail.
I'm also trying to figure out some personal issues, but part of the problem is my desire to think things through to over-thinking capacity. This can lead to confidence concerns as I deal with the various challenges in life, which never really stop no matter how much we might want a moment to collect ourselves. I know what my skeletons are, and I'm trying to work through the process to become more comfortable in my own skin. I know that I love girl more than anything, and so it's important to me to get these problems resolved to help me be a better person.
And part of that process is coming to terms with some of my old loves, one being the Portland Trail Blazers. I have loved this team quite a bit since before I moved here in 1989, and I've had great memories of 20 years of classic wins, heart breaking losses, wonderful players, and tons of memories that I will always cherish fondly. But the Trail Blazers broke my heart this past February, and I'm not even close to being over what happened.
It was part of the MLS to Portland efforts during February and March, when I was attending the initial hearings for the initial plan to bring baseball to the Rose Quarter by tearing down the Memorial Coliseum. It was the recommendation of many groups that this was the best plan for everyone, and it appeared the Blazers were on board with it, even going so far to include a baseball stadium in artist renderings of the new site. It was later that afternoon when J. Issacs, a Trail Blazer vice president testified that this was a bad idea, and the Trail Blazers couldn't support the plan because "it would do irreparable harm to the Trail Blazers."
I sat there in complete disbelief at what I was hearing, and while the plan earned enough support to get the initial approval, the entire situation never sat well with me. The Trail Blazers have failed miserably in their efforts to revitalize the Rose Quarter area, and this seemed like a great idea to bring more business to an area that needed it. The Blazers were also responsible for upkeep to the Memorial Coliseum, their old home, but it had fallen into such disrepair that even their anchor tenant, the Portland Winterhawks hockey team, was in danger of losing credibility with their league for playing in a "substandard facility."
The months following included a wonderful Trail Blazers playoff run, while the baseball idea at the MC fell apart when architects and other artists in the community started a campaign to save the MC because of its architectural and historic significance. The city of Portland relented on this idea, and after a disastrous attempt to put the ballpark in Lents, gave up on baseball. The city of Beaverton has picked things up from there, recently agreeing in principle with Beavers owner Merritt Paulson on the preliminary framework of an agreement to put the Beavers in Beaverton. The MC got historical designation earlier this year as a historical monument, meaning that any further plans for changes would need to meet the legacy of the building.
The agreement in Beaverton is far from a done deal, as the agreement isn't site specific and still requires a council vote to secure agreement. Meanwhile, residents of the area are banding together in an attempt to put the issue to a vote of residents before anything can proceed, which puts the project timeframe of starting construction into jeopardy. Paulson has indicated that changes to PGE Park must start in early 2010 in order to be done in time for the 2011 MLS season, and any residental vote would push that timeframe out. They only need signatures of 2,200 Beaverton residents in order to force the vote, which means all the planning done so far could be rendered moot if the whole thing is put to vote.
While this drama is playing out, the MC is hosting a Trail Blazer exhibition game tonight versus Phoenix, which is being billed as a "step back in time" to when the Blazers played there. They'll be throw back uniforms, reduced ticket prices, and Bill Schonley will even be back to call part of the game. For some people, it's time to dream of what once was going on, and see the building as a true gem. A few days ago, a blog post from a locally well known site mentioned a tour of the MC and new plans with the Trail Blazers and Winterhawks working together to refurbish the MC into a hockey arena for long term use.
The post was very interesting and full of wonderfully rosy visions of what might be, but there's absolutely no mention of how to pay for this pipe dream. I've attended hockey in this city for years, and I truly believe they deserve a place in the conversation here about their future, but I'm sensing a train wreck of major proportions about to happen here, and I'm not happy about it. Soccer is being made as a scapegoat for kicking baseball out of PGE Park, while the best site for baseball in the area in my opinion is being re-purposed for something that benefits the Trail Blazers.
I understand our most beloved franchise has dealt with economic problems and hard times, and could have very well left the city during these dark times, but they didn't. They have the right to protect their investment and do what they can to make money, but where I object is the issue that they want control over an area that they don't own, but have direct influence over. The Blazers want to ensure they get the best pot of funds in any refurbishing of the MC, and the baseball plan didn't include anything for them. The city owns the land and the MC, and so the Blazers just can't do what they want to the area, so they throw a wrench in baseball and are now coming up with an idea that benefits them.
There's plenty of other blame to throw around, but the Trail Blazers are the most culpable here in my opinion. They could have looked at the situation and realized that baseball could have brought people to the area year around, and revitalized the area, but instead, they didn't see enough dollar signs their way. The MC needs extensive renovation that could have been done over the years, but instead, the building has just sat there being used for various events on the cheap. And as much as I don't want to see this happen, there's a small but very real possibility of either baseball leaving Portland or MLS being asked to allow the teams to share PGE Park if Beaverton's plan falls through, which essentially puts soccer and baseball back to square one.
I think the world of the players, and think they'll have a great year. I know they will be a power within the Western Conference, and the NBA will continue to have a stronghold in the area. I just can't be part of it, because I can't resolve the player end with the business end right now. I didn't renew my ticket package with the team because of this, and was very honest with my representative about my reasons. While the team prepares to play, I find myself conflicted in listening to the games on the radio or watching them on TV.
I'm sure there will be a point when this will all pass, and I can safely resolve the issue once the future of baseball in the Portland area is more secure, and MLS is securely on the 2011 radar. But right now, those situations are cloudy at best, and it's mostly because of the actions of one team in scarlet and black. It's tough when your two loves are fighting with each other, and right now, I'm choosing my love of soccer to support. I'm sure that I won't be missed in the turnstiles or watching at home, the team seems to have their bandwagon filled to the brim with fans. I just wished that my basketball team would have been more faithful to me when I needed them to step up, especially with me being there when they needed me during the dark ages.

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