Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Portland's MLS Expansion Bid - An UF Field Trip

Yesterday, Timbers supporters packed the City of Portland Council Chambers donning club colors and scarves as MLS and Merritt Paulson put on its dog and pony show for the City of Portland. It was the first meeting of the MLS Soccer/AAA Baseball Task Force, a group of private citizens who were selected to sift through Merritt Paulson's proposal to bring MLS to Portland and eventually provide a recommendation to the City Council before March 2009, the deadline MLS has set for the expansion bids.

The Merritt Paulson and MLS presentations were long on bromides and short on substance. The proposal, according to Paulson whose wife gave birth only the day before, will have a positive economic impact on Portland and enrich the community. He warned that public funding was necessary and this would be Portland's one chance at getting an MLS club. But, Paulson evaded a task force member's question on whether the Paulson family would individually guarantee the revenue that would be used to pay off bonds to finance the upgrades.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber put in his two cents saying MLS wants to come to Portland, although he probably tells this to all of the bidders. He praised Portland's passionate fanbase as evidenced by Timbers supporters grumbling at any suggestion that they would support and watch the Seattle MLS expansion club. Garber also noted that MLS did not consider the lack of local Fortune 500 companies to be a detriment to Portland given the "national" presence of MLS mentioning the Rio Tinto sponsorship in Salt Lake, although that was probably not the best choice considering Portland's political leanings the Rio Tinto's track record.

Garber again noted that PGE Park needed upgraded facilities and that only one of the MLS soccer specific stadiums was completely privately funded saying most were public/private ventures. The current proposal calls for only public money to upgrade the facilities of a publicly owned facility.

The one piece of new information came from Garber who indicated MLS is going to announce a "game" at a soccer specific stadium that will attract international attention to highlight the benefits of a soccer specific stadium. Garber gave no other details.

Mayor-elect and current council member Sam Adams appears supportive of the attempt to bring MLS to town, but cautioned that there is much work to be done in securing a development agreement and financing. Mayor-elect Adams acknowledged the current economic climate makes such a proposal difficult.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard also was supportive of the proposal so long as the proposed moving of the AAA baseball team is moved to the Lents neighborhood an area he has represented for many years.

The Task Force will meet bi-monthly until the March deadline, although it certainly won't have the attendance of this initial meeting. I will try to attend some of these meetings.

10 comments:

Precious Roy said...

The Task Force will meet bi-monthly until the March deadline, although it certainly won't have the attendance of this initial meeting.

So they are going to meet once more before March? Damn you English language!

Goat said...

I wish I had gotten my permission slip in on time.

The Fan's Attic said...

how about fortnightly? i hate biweekly and bimonthly.

Precious Roy said...

Yes, use 'fortnightly' because it reminds me of the father Mackenzie in "So I Married and Axe Murderer."

Andrew said...

Semimonthly?

On some levels, Portland makes better sense than any other possible expansion city. Ready-made fan support; a Northwest "derby" with Seattle; no other major franchise to compete with, excepting the Blazers of course.

Yet, if you don't have the money, well, ...

jamison said...

I'd love to see MLS here in PDX especially after those cunts in Seattle got a team, but this proposal is shite. The idea that its an economic benefit is total crap, the vast majority of revenue is just transfers from other entertainment options (in Portland probably means strip clubs and beer)and from money that was previously going to the Timbers.

Paulson came up with this crap proposal before his daddy became the bailout pimp, I'm surprised he hasn't toned it down yet.

If you turn PGE into a soccer specific stadium do you need to find a new place for the PSU football team to play as well?

Mike Georger said...

Least sexy UF After Dark ever.

The Fan's Attic said...

Wasn't UF After Dark...I just wanted to get the post up because I was doing actual reporting that would be timely.

Mike Georger said...

It appears my joke failed worse than Arsenal.

Lucas said...

Portland State University football would remain a tenant of a reconfigured PGE Park, as would local high schools and various other events (concerts, etc.).