The Memorial Coliseum should not be torn down to make way for either an "entertainment environment" of the sort that is viable in Kansas City, or a minor league baseball stadium.
Portland is a growing city. As such, it will need multiple venues for sports, concerts, entertainment and so on. The more the city grows, the more the need increases. As we know, costs only go up, and in historically cheap Portland, we are always challenged to make the projects happen or happen well.
Replacing a viable, fully functional, and extremely well built 12,600 seat multipurpose sport and concert venue with a (most likely budget driven, therefore cheap) 9000 seat single purpose/sport stadium makes absolutely no sense.
I repeat, it makes no sense to replace 12,600 fully paid for, top quality, all weather multipurpose seats for a (who knows how the heck we will pay for it and for how long and at what compromise, mortgaged to the hilt), mediocre 9000 seat, summer only, (and not in a rain-out) single purpose venue.
This is absolute stupidity. It reminds me of the mentality that tossed billions of dollars at Wall Street, and the saw a whole hell of a lot of it go to the dogs that created the junk financial products that have tanked our economy.
From the standpoint of pure one-to-one economic value, this deal stinks. But there is more.
Consider the location as it relates to baseball.... Is this really the best location for the stadium? Is the school site better?
I say no to both. Neither is well served by transit. Yes, there is a stop at the Rose Garden, yet would people walk from that stop to the school site? There are freeway on/off ramps, and these dump vehicles onto Broadway/Wiedler. That has not been a great situation for NE, and extending traffic jam season to year round doesn't make sense... but I expect people will choose to drive over mass transit.
Placed in another part of town, the stadium would provide economic stimulus. It might as well at the MC site, but lets face it... it is not Fenway Park, or Wriggly Field or even the new Giants Stadium. Those are in neighborhoods, old and new, and energize the areas around them... but the Rose Quarter is not a neighborhood, and will not become one. It is a parking lot complex next to a convention center on one side and an industrial area on the others.
From an economic impact consideration, the only area that would benefit would be the Rose Quarter.
The MC is both an architecturally historic and artistic statement, a major work of modernism. It is also a war veterans memorial. It was also built by the people of Portland, and is owned by them.
The Blazers, who manage but do not own the Coliseum, have mothballed it such that it is a drain on the city, and failed to responsibly maintain the building such that it would seem ready and prime for demolition.
This is wrong. The building has merit as a work of architecture, as a memorial, and as a historic venue, a place where many great moments in sports and culture have occurred.
Anyone who has been in Portland long enough to see the leaves change color knows that we will go ballistic to save buildings with far less merit in terms of architecture or historic value. In fact we even save that which we do tear down. Ask the Rebuilding Center.
Tearing the MC is not an act of sustainability. It is not adaptive reuse. It is not justifiable on any terms if we state we respect the imbedded creative, physical, and material energy the building represents. It is not sustainable if we consider the great energy of sport and art, and audience the building has hosted—let alone the bad karma of tearing down a memorial building paid for in part by children’s' door-to-door fund raising efforts.
Tearing down the MC tears down more than a building. It tears down a vessel of memories and a monument to remembrance of sacrifice.
Further, the MC is a uniquely community oriented building. The concourse level is mid-bowl. Therefore it is at a mid point between the most expensive and the least expensive seats. In the old days, when every one in Portland at least said they were born here, the concourse was the great unifier. Everyone came to the center before and at half time, and promenaded around the bowl taking in the great views of the city and saying hi to friends they would run into. In later years, bars were set up in the corners, and often fans were still out side the arena well into the second half of a game... as well, people would cruise the inner ring between the two principal levels of the bowl and scan the crowd for friends.... try to do either at the Rose Garden... or any other venue in this country.
The MC reinforced Portland’s sense of community, expressed in the purest and most egalitarian of architectural terms and enhanced by stunning views of the city.
By comparison, the Rose Garden is a segregated experience that is all about money and status.
Portland can and should fight back against this stupid and shortsighted plan.