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P.M. Falsetto

Thanks for the posting, Brian, in partial response to Steve Duin’s article. I find myself disappointed and dismayed that Steve doesn’t once acknowledge the importance and significance of the Coliseum, underscored by its eminent inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Derogatory statements such as relaying Randy Leonard’s “really good looking Costco” comment cheapens the discussion. The building’s historic significant is formidable - name one public structure built in the last 50 years that has provided Portland with the Coliseum’s level of national visibility, economic clout, and civic pride. Derogatory statements such as relaying Randy Leonard’s “really good looking Costco” comment simply cheapens the discussion.

This whole process of finding a home for the Beaver’s new stadium has come across as rather clumsy and haphazard, and very unlike the sort of process that Portland prides itself on. For instance, shoehorning the stadium into the Rose Quarter site does very little to resolve the issues this site has faced since its inception – being a suburban solution in one of our most important urban sites. Instead of asking the question of how a stadium can be jammed into the Rose Quarter, we should be asking how we can help the Quarter achieve its greatest potential. Removing one venue (Coliseum) for another with very limited use (Beavers games and a few select summer concerts) is not the direction we should be exploring. Also, if that stadium was built on this site, it could never be expanded to fit in Major League venue, as many have touted. It can only be what it is, a Triple A park with limited seasonal use. We are smarter than that, our reputation as good urban planners demands we do better than that. A harder, deeper examination is required to find the perfect spot for the Beavers stadium that benefits all, and not settle for the simple, easy, and weak solution.

Jim

Thanks, Paul, I agree fully.

I think that the answer may lie in a broadening of the view of the Rose Quarter a bit. Just to the northeast of the Broadway Bridge is a site large enough to hold MLB which is currently occupied by Portland Public Schools and some adjacent businesses along Broadway, all of which have seen their better days. If an expandable Triple A park could be incorporated there, then it could preserve the Coliseum for a more useful and potentially synergistic purpose within the entire district.

This idea was presented to Mayor Katz thru Sam Adams about 7 years ago and seemed to have some traction. I am not sure why it hasn't received any recent serious consideration in this new dialog.

billb

Great Post B , YEAY for MC on the Register ! S D was off base today , and you are right to call him out for not speaking to the Pro MC side. A note to all the MC haters , it costs a lot of money to demolish a building as big as the MC , who is kicking that $$$ in ?
The PPS site is a natural for a MLB site , and that is where a future-thinking city should aim Sam/Randy seem to love to hammer out deals , so they should do one with the PPS folks. Trade land , etc.

P.M. Falsetto

Thanks, Jim and Bill, for dropping the other shoe on this subject. If the Rose Quarter proper is not the ideal site, then maybe the Blanchard Building (PPS) site is. I tend to think so, being not fully aware of the financial issues behind the site's cost and such. I echo Bill's call to the powers that are to make the PPS purchase happen, which would be the most beneficial use of their energies.

Jeremy Wright

Thank you Steve Duin for bringing this back to the table.

The MC has been and is the best site for a stadium. It fits all of PDX's stated transportation goals and it will actually benefit the people of PDX as opposed to a dying building costs taxpayers at least a half a million a year to just keep functional.

The MC is owned by the City of Portland. The land is owned by the City. What we do with that prime land should be in the long term interests of Portlanders. That stadium doesn't belong to a few angry architects (and yes it is very few). It belongs to us and I think the majority of Portlanders are coming around to the idea that it makes no sense to keep flogging a dead horse in a building that has long since past it's due by date.

AND using the National Historic Registry as some sort of evidence that this building is worth saving is absolutely absurd. It is a rigged process where the building is the only thing to be considered and means absolutely nothing in terms of whether this publicly owned stadium should remain standing. The lack of public process and any type of hearing makes all of the architects complaints about the process leading up to the decision to site the MC at the Rose Quarter (9 months of public meetings) ring incredibly hollow.

Brian Libby

To those of you who don't know, Mr. Wright has been an avid MLS supporter, as described in this Portland Mercury story:

http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/moving-the-goalposts-greenwashing-the-columbia/Content?oid=1274113

I can agree with you, Jeremy, on bringing the Timbers to Portland. I suspect your opposition to preserving Memorial Coliseum may stem from the fact that previously this was tied to the Timbers and their PGE Park renovation deal. Also, of course, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson owns the Beavers too.

You are trying again to claim the majority when there is no evidence at all to show that most Portlanders want the Coliseum to be torn down. Using terms like "dying building" don't mean anything. It's just hyperbole. And I should know - I use that tactic all the time.

Truthfully, though, Memorial Coliseum is already much more useful to Portlanders than a baseball stadium would ever be. Last year there were just under 350 total events at the Rose Quarter. Roughly half of those were at the Coliseum. A baseball stadium would have no more than the 72 baseball games plus a few outdoor concerts.

Jeremy, I'm sure you love Portland and you want what's best. Let's try to find the Beavers a new home that's not in PGE Park and not on the Memorial Coliseum site, and then lets let the public process happen that is being set in place by the Portland Development Commission.

paul

Thank you for the fair and well thought out post, Brian. I know that it gets under your skin whenever anybody brings up demolishing the MC, and i think that you vented your frustration in a fair way.

Personally, I think PPS is the best site for the stadium; it works in regards to central city location, large enough to expand if we ever get a chance for a MLB team (although not likely in the next 15+ years, especially after the debacle/circus of this whole recent saga... Seriously, why would any owner/league want to move here?!) and works from a transportation/ mass transit point of view.

I also agree that the MC needs to be reprogrammed so that we can stop having discussions about it's usefulness to the city, beyond being a building on The Register. I still think they should locate a year round Market there (Like Pike Place or Quincy Market in Boston) that would bring people year round, both locals and tourists alike. Regardless of what happens to the MC, the Rose Quarter is a mess that will only be solved by people being there, and the best way to do that would be to build residential/mixed-use. It should be a dense area where people live, work and play, and it is grossly underutilized.

As for P.M.'s comment that "This whole process of finding a home for the Beaver’s new stadium has come across as rather clumsy and haphazard, and very unlike the sort of process that Portland prides itself on..." I will agree with you on the "clumsy and haphazard" part; however we will have to disagree on the "very unlike the sort of process that Portland prides itself on..." :)

ws

I believe that the plucky band of architects carrying the vanguard for keeping the MC on represents a lot of people in the metro area that feel similarly. There's someone in my own family that helped build it. This person is nothing close to a sophisticated devotee of architecture, but still smart enough to realize the MC's architecture ranks far above that described by the term used by Leonard in his low-brow manner.

Leonard and Paulsen's idea for the land MC occupies just isn't that good. They see being able to get the big money to tear down and build a AAA baseball stadium, so they want to spend, even though the signs suggest the return isn't going to be so great.

I think Paul's observation is astute:

"Regardless of what happens to the MC, the Rose Quarter is a mess that will only be solved by people being there, and the best way to do that would be to build residential/mixed-use."


Rob

While I understand the desire by those who enjoy this building for its architecture, I wish they could weigh their enjoyment of a building versus the potential a stadium would bring to the Rose Quarter.

Imagine if building a new stadium for the Beavers led to an eventual major league team in Portland.

MLB, MLS and NBA... all easily accessible via light rail and bus.

While I understand that architecture purists view this building as beautiful, to the average Portlander, it's just an ugly building they never go to. Worse, it'll costa fortune to upgrade - otherwise, an earthquake will eventually bring it to the ground, at which point this entire conversation is moot.

There was once a hotel where Pioneer Square sits today. Granted, the hotel was lost to a parking lot... but Pioneer Square is a gift to our city. Change happens.

Wouldn't a new stadium for the Beavers see more use than the drab Memorial Coliseum sees? And, before I take any flak for the 'drab' comment... just look at the pic at the top of this very page. That's drab.

How much money will Portland waste trying to find a way to repurpose this building? Either give the damn thing to a big box like Target or Costco (shudder) or tear it down and find a better use for the space.

Memorial Stadium sounds like a winner to me.

Rob

P.S. "While I understand the desire by those who enjoy this building for its architecture, I wish they could weigh their enjoyment of a building versus the potential a stadium would bring to the Rose Quarter."

...AND TO THE ENTIRE CITY.

MLB in Portland could be such a winner. What's the best we can hope for from Memorial Coliseum in ten years? In twenty years? For that matter... how long has it been since it was relevant at all? 1994? It's time to move on.

paul

Rob, seriously, MLB to Portland isn't happening in the next decade++. It just isn't, and the argument is getting a bit tired. It is ridiculously hard to admit that; this is coming from a diehard Cubs fan who wants MLB in this city as much as anybody.

Now, I'm 100% in favor of planning for the day that we may get MLB consideration again by building the new AAA in an area and on a parcel of land that could be made MLB ready, but to pin all the hopes on MLB as the Rose Quarter Savior just isn't right, not for the Rose Quarter, and not for the entire City. Besides, I don't believe that the MC site is large enough to expand for MLB anyway, so why are we even discussing it? Tearing it down for AAA Memorial Stadium, with no MLB expansion potential, and no further development to bring people into the area sounds like a waste of an exceptional opportunity.

However, building the AAA ballpark on the PPS site (which is large enough for future MLB expansion), in conjunction with mixed-used/residential development that would ensure year round use regardless of whether the Beavers or the Blazers are playing is smart planning that will work to improve both the Rose Quarter and the entire city today, without compromising a long term plan for an MLB future, whenever/ if ever that may be.

Greg

The debate should be over the highest, best use of the site, period.

Should the building's architectural value be considered? Yes.

Should other options for the building's re-use be explored? Yes.

Should other structures be considered for the site? Absolutely, yes.

Jeremy nailed it. Putting the National Register label on the building without weighing the full range of options in a public process is not right.

dennis

it has already been pointed out, but I think I will add to it...should the MC be saved? maybe, I can think of uses for it as is, but at the same time I can see it being torn down to correct the suburban mistakes that were made in the Rose Quarter.

Also, I see it to be pointless to build a AAA ballpark where the MC is for several reasons, it does not fix the suburban problem the RQ is having...it cannot be expanded to a MLB park, thus if we did get a team...we would then have to decide what to do with a worthless stadium we spent millions to build.

The only two sites our city council cheerleaders, which mostly I mean Leonard...if he wants to be the drama queen in all of this, then he best pull his head out of his ass and start going after the PPS site or the Post Office site because those are the two best sites for a MLB ballpark...any other site he could dream up is a waste of time and money...plan and simple.


Also on a side note with MLB, the AL is short a couple teams and I wouldnt be surprised if expansion comes up in the next ten years...now that baseball is really settling in with the cities that it is in...I can see them expanding by a couple more teams, and I think it is important for Portland to position itself for that...if we have a AAA park that is ready to be expanded, we increase our chances of adding another pro team to the city.

Peter Stubbs

I'm going to get myopic for a moment...

It rankles to hear Commissioner Leonard say things like "a really good looking Costco." Kind of like calling, say, Denzel Washington a "a really good looking Randy Leonard." Yes, they are the same basic shape on the outside, but beyond that the resemblance is nil. The remark was weak cheap shot, especially coming from someone with the incredibly bad taste to plaster a neon rose on John Yeon's Portland Visitors Information Center (a move akin to serving sides of Cheez Whiz at a gallery opening. Frankly, that single act should absent Commissioner Leonard from any credible discussion of taste in architecture.

P.M. Falsetto

Ha! - well said, Peter.

Great comments above, but distilling it down (and leaving out the Coliseum for the moment), a baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter will not help the ills that plague Rose Quarter. It's been proven by the City planners that a baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter can barely accommodate a AAA team, and is not expandable for MLB. For fans of the Beavers who hope for a major league team someday (remember, Merritt Paulson is young and wealthy and has already brought one major league team - soccer -to Portland), you should be clamoring for a better site, one that suits today's use and tomorrow's possibilities. For those who respect good urban planning and understand the Rose Quarter to be one of Portland's most visible examples of such, you should be demanding that the city come up with a thoughtful, inspired, and viable plan for its revitalization. For in my opinion the real 'canary in the coal mine' here is the Rose Quarter, our important yet underutilized asset that needs to come into its own as a great eastside transportation hub with access to the waterfront and downtown . . . and not a backlot for the city to plunk down whatever venue is in political demand. Let's get the Rose Quarter properly addressed AND find the right location for the baseball stadium, and not have one suffer for the other.

Greg

"It's been proven by the City planners that a baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter can barely accommodate a AAA team, and is not expandable for MLB."

This is not accurate. The Blanchard site is ideal for both AAA and MLB. The MC site is fine, size-wise, for AAA and for a reasonably sized MLB facility. No city planner has said otherwise.

"For in my opinion the real 'canary in the coal mine' here is the Rose Quarter, our important yet underutilized asset that needs to come into its own as a great eastside transportation hub with access to the waterfront and downtown . . . and not a backlot for the city to plunk down whatever venue is in political demand. Let's get the Rose Quarter properly addressed AND find the right location for the baseball stadium, and not have one suffer for the other."

As someone who has studied baseball stadia and toured over half of the MLB stadia, you can hardly dream up a better location for a baseball stadium than the Rose Quarter. By far the biggest problem with it is a lack of political will to stand up to the Blazers, MC preservation advocates, and other who are simply anti-stadia.

winterhawksfan

It's a great hockey rink and lousy for everything else. It has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi aesthetic (and I actually prefer it to the Crumpled Pie Tin, I mean Rose Garden). But that's not saying much.

In reality, the issue is not about whether the Coliseum can be renovated while retaining its historic facade. I am quite sure smart designers and architects can remold it to 21st-century standards of energy and material use, vibrant interiors and highly desirable use space. That part is easy.

The big issue is what activities in and even around the building will generate enough revenue and be emblematic of what this city is about. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was about the Trail Blazers, the Winterhawks and the Mayor's Ball and, uh, Def Leppard, and how they helped define the nature of this community. But those times are gone.

So far nobody has really come up with a good plan for a compelling new set of uses (which might or might not include professional sports). Until that happens, it will remain a favorite of esoteric architecture history and fail to generate any real enthusiasm for the effort and money needed to give it a new lease on life.

Aneeda

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/16/arts/design/16stadium.html?ref=arts

dennis

Let the Portland State University Vikings basketball team play at the MC...they are in need of a better home than the Stott Center, and the additional ticket sales would be good for the team and the MC.

s.o.

Greg and all,
Regarding the idea of a MLB stadium being able to fit on the MC site; I thought I remember at the open house that Sam Adams said that MLB would not fit; I could be mistaken. If definitely won't fit on the site without demoing the parking garages, an idea the city seemed very resistant to. I did a quick google search for the smallest MLB stadium. While there are many opinions out there I went McAfee Coliseum in Oakland on google maps and did a quick and dirty overlay of it onto the Rose Quarter site. Sure enough, for MLB we need to demo both the MC as well as the parking garages and what you are left with are two massive volumes with awkward space in between (even more so than you have today). Brian, please let me know if there is a way to post a jpeg or I can email it to you if you would like to see.

Jim

From my perspective, the Rose Quarter is the correct location, but only at the PPS portion of the site. I agree that this is the correct part of town to put the stadium. I truly believe that Lents is suburban, regardless of what the city boundaries look like and that will speak poorly of Portland's urban planning skills. I don't like the post office site because it wouldn't necessarily be a catalyst of anything new since the area is already newly built out. (Plus those Pearl District snobs would probably complain about the noise of a stadium like they do with the noise of the train.)

Any new stadium at Rose Quarter MUST preserve the MC. It will be the key to turning the district into something special like the Pike's Market or some other similar use. If it is converted into a well-executed catalytic use, the rest of that portion of the Rose Quarter offers some opportunity for private development to come in and build a great mixed use community. Clearly, the converting the MC to a more prominent community use will be the first step in fixing the Rose Quarter. Combining a new stadium at the PPS site, along with a re-positioned MC would create an exciting new use for the district.

On the topic of the Historic Registry, this is exactly why the Registry exists - to protect historic structures from those who don't understand or respect their importance to the community. It is not meant to be a democratic process, nor should it be. There are times when our government must protect us from ourselves. If only there actually were fashion police, maybe Commish Randy could be saved there as well.

P.M. Falsetto

In response to Greg:

On April 14th the Mayor lead a public review meeting to examine two concepts showing an AAA stadium (approx. 8,000 seat capacity). Joe Zehnder, the City of Portland Planning Director, presented Concepts ‘A’ and ‘B’, and discussed the pros and cons of each. These plans can be found on the Mayor’s web site at http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/index.cfm?c=49522&a=239688.

Concept ‘A’ shows the stadium placed on the site of the Coliseum, with all seating capacity handled without the use of grandstands. This layout was considered to be much too close to the Rose Garden, negatively crowding both venues. Concept ‘B’ backs the stadium up against Broadway Street and provides more room between the venues, but would likely remove one of the parking garages. Also, there are large scale utility lines running through this area that would be prohibitively expensive to relocate (and relocate where?). For both options, Larrabee Avenue would be removed. Larrabee is the main connector between eastbound traffic on Broadway to Interstate Avenue. Zehnder mentioned this alone is likely the deal breaker issue, as this street could not be vacated without severely affecting traffic patterns. When asked if the stadium layout would be rotated to allow it to fit on the site better and avoid these problems, Mr. Zehnder reminded us that baseball stadiums have strict guidelines about orientation to keep the sun out of the batter’s eyes.

If somehow, magically, these issues were able to be resolved and a MLB park was eventually to be accommodated on this same site, and was the size of the smallest of the most recent wave of MLB stadiums (Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park at 38,365 seats), the seating portion of the converted AAA stadium would have to increase over 4 times. When directly asked, it was mentioned by the Mayor and his staff that the Rose Quarter site would not be able to accommodate a MLB stadium. The focus here was only on the AAA-sized stadium.

Respectfully, I would be interested if Greg - with all his expertise in MLB stadia - could address the 'real life' issues that make the Rose Quarter inadequate to support a baseball stadium.

Greg

The Twins are currently building a 40,000 seat stadium (I'd be surprised if Portland's stadium was more than 33,000) on eight acres. It can be done... although anyone would freely admit that the Blanchard has a more spacious and flexible footprint.

Greg

P.M.,

The April hearing was, in my opinion, a rushed affair. They did not take the time to create a stadium footprint that fit the space, and they basically left all of the Blazer's plans for an entertainment district intact, so of course it was cramped.

If there are "deal-breaking" issues with utility lines or Larrabee street, that's news to me (along with commissioner Leonard, the editorial boards at the O and the Trib, and heck even the Mayor since he hasn't said a peep about it in any of his tortured half-explanations as to why "the Rose Quarter is off the table" for baseball).

Any site is going to have infrastructure issues. The beauty of the Rose Quarter is that it is already designed to accomodate 20,000 fans, and that infrastructure currently sits vacant during the 72 home games that a AAA baseball stadium would bring. Any other site without that infrastructure will require an additional eight figure investment to make it appropriately accessible (for example, since it sounds like you are an insider, I assume you know how expensive a parking garage is, along with the hard and soft costs of eating up land with a giant swath of parking lots).

P.M. Falsetto

Greg,

Not so much an insider am I, but someone who wants to make sure that we as a city make the best decision from all available choices. You make a good point that some of the purported 'deal-breaking' issues have not been fully explained, and that tends to show me that political issues have trumped planning issues on this topic. An open forum that examines all needs, desires, and requirements about the baseball stadium needs to occur, and that information layered upon the possible sites. Only then can we insure that the best site is chosen.

Much of the information you mentioned in your latest posting helps confirm for me that the Blanchard site is an excellent candidate. Negatives about that choice that have been mentioned include the purchase price, and accommodating PPS's schedule to move into a replacement facility. But if these issues are handled, it look like we'll have the stadium in a spot that will accommodate baseball use now and in the future . . .all that, along with the two existing parking garages immediately across Broadway and no disruption of traffic from Broadway to Interstate.

Greg

P.M.,

If the cost issues at Blanchard could be addressed (a land swap might help - this is how Charlotte acquired land from their school district in order to build their new AAA stadium), and if the powers that be can come up with an appropriate re-use of the Coliseum, I think that everyone would go home happy. Too bad Sam's new task force is only focused on the latter, while ignoring the vagabond Beavers.

Mold Testing Tampa

Along with good structural plans there should be a scope for home inspection and regular check up facilities so that they can remain in the good condition they are delivered to the clients.

ws

In the 7/20 edition of the Oregonian today, I read guest colunmist, Neil DePonte's proposal to move the Rose Quarter in the direction of making it an east side performing arts center, reconfiguring the MC to be a theater. His idea makes some sense to me. He says doing so would free up Keller for more moneymaking/blockbuster touring Broadway shows.

Also that numbers of patrons for performing arts in Portland are documented as being much greater than for AAA baseball, so their attendance would pay. Seems like I remember hearing though, that the city's on the hook for the Armory Theater because the theater company there can't make the payments.

Supporting the idea, he envisions housing in the quarter, some of whose residents would be among those patrons. So with the modern styling of the MC, all of this could make the quarter a little something like a Portland version of Lincoln Center?

All those acres of parking lots in the RQ seem contrary to a sense of elegance I'd tend to think a performance arts center should have. With performing arts though, Paul Allen wouldn't have to worry about the MC taking away events he wants for the RG.

Anonymous

What we already know is this: shoehorning a baseball stadium into the Rose Quarter site does very little to resolve the issues this site has faced since its inception. This is a suburban solution in one of our most important urban settings.

Too bad Sam's new task force is only focused on the latter, while ignoring the vagabond Beavers.

[Brian's editorial note: I removed the URL attached to this comment because it seemed to be spam, but I'm leaving the comment itself.]

[name removed]

Along with good structural plans there should be a scope for home inspection and regular check up facilities so that they can remain in the good condition they are delivered to the clients.

[Brian's note: I removed the name and address of this comment because it was spam-oriented.]

[name removed - spam]

That's what will come out of the citizens advisory committee and the public process for Memorial Coliseum happening this fall.

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