Continuing our look at some of the 95 proposals for Memorial Coliseum that were submitted to the mayor and PDC's Stakeholder Advisory Committee, and mindful of tomorrow (January 26) as the date when presentations on these projects will be made at the Coliseum, is the Portland Action Sports Complex and Resort.
The idea here stems from how The Rose Quarter, including both The Rose Garden and Memorial Coliseum arenas, has long represented professional sports in Portland. The program seeks to address how participation in American sport is changing. Participation in many traditional sports (hockey, baseball) is declining, even as participation in other outdoor sports of the "X Games" variety like skateboarding or cyclocross or snowboarding, has grown substantially.
"The redevelopment of Portland’s Rose Quarter offers an opportunity to create a world class facility that can combine the history of the old with the potential and excitement of the new," the PASCR website says, "while providing a safe place for families and friends to participate in a wide variety of active sports."
The Portland Action Sports Complex and Resort concept was put together by Action Sports Northwest with design assistance from Viridian Environmental Design, and Architecture Office. Action Sports CEO Adam Wagner was previously involved in putting on the Nelscott Reef Tow In Classic surfing event.
The complex, they say, "would include some of the best facilities in the world for sports such as surfing, skateboarding, BMX biking, rock climbing, kayaking, and white water rafting in one location. The facility would also include family friendly activities, including water slides, tubing, instruction and camps."
The proposal also includes copious mention of sustainable design and construction methods intended. Most unique in this regard would be a "living machine", with wastewater processed through a series of water storage tanks that would biologically treat the water before it re-enters the environment.
Also included in this Rose Quarter plan would be a 250-500 room resort hotel with accompanying retail shops. "The entire development would be a destination resort that could become the athletic center of the city," the proposal goes on, "Each facility would be designed to encourage daily use but, in combination with exterior plazas and outdoor spaces would be able to accommodate large scale professional events, such as the Dew Action Sports Tour and the X-Games.
In terms of the Rose Quarter's physical makeup, the PASCR proposal would more or less leave Memorial Coliseum untouched except for necessary restoration and new seating for the arena. Like the Blazers, the he Portland Action Sports Complex and Resort sees the Coliseum having continuing value as a medium-sized arena with not only sporting events but a continuing role as a multipurpose arena.
As I got into the meat of this proposal on the website, it became clearer that water recreation and sport lies at the heart.
The PASCR would include what they are calling the "world’s first indoor circular wave pool", designed by the Kelly Slater Wave Company. "This design utilizes a large circular pool that creates perpetual waves and is located below street level at the heart of the new hotel," the website goes on. "The wave pool is sunken approximately 40-feet below street level with a high atrium space overhead that will allow natural south-facing sunlight to wash over the space creating a stunning view from street level and from the reception and lobby areas of the hotel. A number of rooms and conference facilities could easily be located to overlook the wave pool from the cantilevered terraces above the space. A hotel would be integrated with the wave pool and other water features, like a kayaking path, lap pools and so on.
Another aspect of the proposal is the Memorial Plaza, the large open space between Memorial Coliseum, the Rose Garden, the new hotel and wave pool. The large, flat plaza is bordered on the east side along NE Wheeler Avenue with a set of steps that gently integrate the site's nearly eighteen feet of grade change from Wheeler Avenue to the front doors of the Coliseum.
Overall, I like the idea of a hotel on the Rose Quarter site because it could put more people on the ground there than just people coming to events at the arenas. The idea of having a sort of themed destination sports-and-spa resort seems not so outlandish.
And of course having been involved in trying to save Memorial Coliseum and follow the strictures of its National Register listing, I like the fact that PASCR would let the MC be the MC.
As far as programming, I also like the idea of adding athletics and fitness-oriented programming to the Rose Quarter, just as the Memorial Athletic Recreation Complex (MARC) proposal does. Only the PASCR, unlike the MARC, would do so in a way that keeps the Coliseum's original architecture intact. Wonderful as the MARC's programming is, it guts the inside of the building.
At the same time, the wave pool feels just a little gimmicky to me. I don't mean that wave pools themselves are without value. It sounds like a lot of fun to go surfing in the middle of the city, especially when it's raining outside for months straight. And hey, it's a great tie in with "the wave", that silly stunt that sports fans do at games when their team has a big lead. But if building the wave pool is ultimately the hook on which everything hangs, the whole raison d'etre for this proposal, well somehow that feels a little backwards.
What do the rest of you think?