Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Portland bid needs one vote
by Ridge Mahoney, March 11th, 2009 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS] A league that has been beaten over the head dozens of times at the ballot box, city council meetings, and legislative sessions is perhaps one vote away from adding another Northwest city to its lineup. The five-member Portland City Council votes Wednesday on a proposed agreement between potential MLS operator-investor Merritt Paulson, who owns the USL-1 Timbers soccer team and minor-league baseball Beavers, and the city to renovate PG&E Park, currently the Beavers' home, into a first-class soccer facility and build a new baseball park downtown near where the NBA Trailblazers play.

If the City Council approves the plan, an announcement from MLS should be forthcoming naming Vancouver and Portland as its two expansion teams for 2011. If not, the league may - as league spokesman Dan Courtemanche implied several days ago - name Vancouver next week and hold off on a second team.

In MLS boardrooms, Vancouver - backed by billionaire Greg Kerfoot and NBA star Steve Nash - has always been the expansion frontrunner, though various media reports erroneously cited Montreal and Miami, which have since been eliminated, as the league's top picks. The league has approved a plan by which a Vancouver MLS team would play at B.C. Place until a proposed waterfront stadium project emerges from a political morass.

Many months ago, Vancouver also topped the Soccer America list of expansion candidates, not by personal preference, per se, but rather interpretation of comments by Commissioner Don Garber and other league executives as well as very favorable indicators regarding the market and prospective ownership group. Once Seattle gained traction in the fall of 2007 as team No. 15, efforts intensified to create an MLS rivalry in the Northwest.

Adding Portland also would ratchet up that regional intensity. Concerns about political backing, the multiple baseball issues, and whether PG&E Park could be successfully converted into a soccer facility impaired the Portland bid, but Commissioner Garber and league president Mark Abbott have made several trips to the Rose City in the past year as conditions improved.

Yet Paulson and MLS can count on only two votes, those of Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Randy Leonard. They hammered out the agreement after more than a year of wrangling and negotiations that nearly blew up last Thursday during a heated meeting that reportedly infuriated Paulson, who hadn't endeared himself to city officials by insisting he'd pay $40 million for the MLS team but another $85 million to renovate PG&E and build a baseball park had to come from other sources.

Under the tentative agreement, Paulson would have access to more than $60 million in city-backed loans for the two projects. He is obligated to make rent payments on the loans and has agreed to a 7 percent surcharge on tickets that will help retire the debt even if revenues don't match projections.
Leonard played a key role in moving the projects forward by introducing a plan to build a baseball park in the Rose Quarter rather than a suburban location, as had been discussed. The move offered access to city funds for both projects, not just the soccer component.

Commissioners Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman will swing the decision, and all have expressed concerns regarding using city money during a severe economic crisis that is taxing the city's resources for basic services. Just one of their three votes is needed for the plan to go forward.

The stadium projects would cost $88.8 million: $33.7 million to renovate PGE Park and $55.1 million to build a baseball park in the Rose Quarter. The Memorial Coliseum, the Trailblazers' home until they moved to the Rose Garden in 1995, would probably be demolished to make room for the Beavers' new home. The renovated PG&E would have a capacity of 20,000 for soccer and would also be made available for community events.  

Paulson has agreed to pay 20 percent and guarantee the other 80 percent. His share is more than $23 million. The city would borrow $31 million against the Spectator Facilities Fund, and pay another $15 million through property taxes on a new urban renewal area that is being developed. The Oregon Convention Center would kick in $18.5 million of its $26 million surplus. Under the formulas proposed, Paulson has guaranteed repayment of all public monies and loans even if the team and/or league go bust.

"I think we have a deal in principle, but we don't have anything until we've got a third vote," Paulson said to The Oregonian newspaper. "I'm very optimistic we'll get three if not four votes. But nothing is over until it's over."



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS Cup: Remaining tickets sell out in three minutes    
Major League Soccer announced that tickets Saturday's MLS Cup between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders ...
What They're Saying: Chapecoense mourner Claudiane Penegalli     
"It creates indignation because it was a human failure. It wasn't a problem with nature, with ...
What They're Saying: Simon Grayson    
"You expect it in the playground between 4- or 5-year-olds, not from two professionals who've been ...
MLS Moves: Quakes decline options on nine players    
Former U.S. national team defender Clarence Goodson, former U.S. U-20s Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson and ...
MLS Moves: Former Xolos sign with Atlanta and SKC    
Two Americans who began their pro careers at Mexico's Tijuana have signed contracts with MLS clubs. ...
Video Pick: Pulisic's pocket warmer    
Both had a laugh when Christian Pulisic entered Borussia Dortmund's 4-1 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach and ...
U.S. U-17 boys crush competition at Nike Friendlies    
The USA won the U-17 Nike International Friendlies competition in convincing fashion, clinching with a 3-0 ...
U.S. Abroad: Arena watches Pulisic and Johnson    
New U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena watched Christian Pulisic play at Borussia Dortmund as he ...
U.S. U-17s boys romp again, beat Turkey, 5-1     
After opening the Nike International Friendlies with a 7-1 win over Portugal, the U.S. U-17 boys ...
U-20 WWC: USA badly outplayed in third-place game loss    
Japan outshot the USA 29-3 while beating the Americans 1-0 in the third-place game at the ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives