Friday, July 10, 2009

One Step Closer to MLS in Portland

Portland has taken one more step towards actually fielding an MLS team in 2011. The Mayor and Merritt Paulson, owner of the USL Timbers and AAA Portland Beavers, reached a tenative stadium renovation agreement yesterday.

This MLS to Portland ordeal is being drawn out longer than an American Idol results show. MLS initially awarded a club to the city in March and the principals (the city and club owner Merritt Paulson) have been squabling about stadium renovation financing ever since. First, there was an advisory committee that recommended a two stadium proposal (renovation for PGE Park and a new stadium for the soon-to-be displaced Triple-A baseball team), then the City did not approve that recommendation, then they decoupled the two stadiums from each other, and now it is just a PGE Park renovation proposal.

No vote has been scheduled has been scheduled but that appears a mere formality as the required three votes seem secure.. The renovations will be several million dollars less than originally proposed (but who knows if there will be overruns) at $31M. Paulson chips in $8M of his own money for the repairs and will prepay $11M of rent for the facility, leaving the city to finance another $11M, which the City will pay off with revenue from ticket sales and rent. Of note, Paulson gets out of this one without putting up a personal guaranty, which had been a part of the initial proposal.

It is not a done deal yet because there has been no vote on it and only an outline of the proposal has been made public. There is plenty of time to find holes in the plan and surely the vocal opponents will be looking very hard for any mistakes.

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