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anon

"I care a lot more about the fortunes of the Portland Timbers than I ever will about Roosevelt High (sorry kids)."

What a sad commentary on our society today.

Brian Libby

That's not fair, anon. I'm not saying I care more about the Timbers fielding a team more than Roosevelt fielding one. I just mean as a sports fan I have more rooting interest. I also tried to explain in the post that I thought Roosevelt was actually more deserving of public funds and a better use of it. Why is it some kind of moral failure that I spend my leisure time enjoying a pro sport instead of a high school one? I love the game itself, whether it's soccer or football or basketball. I love seeing athletic excellence, so I lean more towards pro sports. There's nothing wrong with that!

anon

sorry, it read differently before your edit. or did i miss this part before?

"fortunes in the games themselves, that is, not the institutions or the people."

Brian Libby

Actually it's my fault, anon - I didn't clarify articulately enough the first time around. I changed the sentence after your comment.

ws

I'm not a sports fan, but other people are, so I say, let them play and also enjoy watching others play. Please though, spare us the astronomical expense that major league teams represent, the traffic, congestion and pollution they're responsible for, and the bad architecture they sometimes produce, such as the Rose Garden building.

As cities and communities, we're better off putting our money into sports facilities serving people in the area.

If it's good value for the money, Roosevelt High School should be given its paltry 3 million dollars for a new athletic complex. 3 mil is not a lot of money these days.

Would Civic Stadium (PGE Park ...I hate that name)really be a good home for major league soccer? I'd support soccer in Portland any day over American style football.

Michael M.

(or should I say "stadia"?)

Please don't.

Sean Casey

Using public resources (via tax breaks and other kick-backs) to subsidize a sports venue or team is total folly.

These ventures exemplify the mantra of "socializing the costs while privatizing the profits".

If you like sports, then pay your way. Build your own stadium. And quit with the corporate panhandling.

When proponents promote these bloated projects, they mention how it will boost the economy. What a tired and redundant statement. Of COURSE any large capital intensive project will affect an areas revenue. You dump money into a region and you're sure to see more economic activity.

The question is what TYPE of economic activity do you want to promote, that will have the biggest return on investment for the largest number of people?

I appreciate sports and the pursuit of excellence. But spending public money, to enable obese America to sit and watch other people be active, seems a tad misdirected. And why Soccer or Baseball or Football? I like Ultimate Fighting. Where's MY stadium?!

If elected officials and the powers that be have a need to spend money, I suggest two other options that would have a greater return on investment:

First, build a park. I know, not exactly exciting or new, however I suspect any homeowner would rather have a park versus a stadium as a neighbor. It's multi-use, adds to property values, and you don't need to pay admission to use it.

Second, invest in education. Again, not really new or earthshaking. But everyone talks about the need to have an intelligent, educated populace, and yet here we are talking sports teams stadiums. Give me a break!

How about building a world class Alternative energy R & D facility? Or taking LEED standards to the public schools. PPS announced the biggest Kindergarden enrollement ever this year. Keeping these kids engaged and educated will do more for your quality of life in the future than some private sports venture.

Thank you for alllowing me to comment

Paul

The vast stores of academic literature on the subject of the economic development data on the subject says with overwhelming fervor that: Major League Stadiums supported by Public Funding have zero net gain for a region. They end up costing the city more than they generate and often take money from local businesses due to the substitution effect. The only research created that says anything different is the heavily skewed data created by private firms that exist for the sole purpose of winning public subsidy.

The city could generate far more benefit from funding any one of a thousand other projects. $85 Million is a starting point for the costs. We haven't even talked about infrastructure improvements at 92nd and I205 or Parking requirements.

We know that these estimates are just that, and when the shovel hits the dirt, we will be left wondering why the costs begin to spiral upwards of $100 Million. The Nines Hotel downtown and the Tram are great examples. We estimate in one climate, and then costs of construction, unforeseen changes in the market, and challenging sites all of a sudden create addition costs that the City now needs to pay for.

Tell Paulsen to prove the worth of this league by asking his father (who is worth an estimated $700 Million) to finance the project.

Oh, and lets have Merritt pay off the current loan at PGE park before we start loaning out any more.

Portland should use its public funds for the benefit of all, not for the merriment of a few.

billb

Yes , from a narrow analysis one can demonstrate either case. The
unmeasurable positive effect of a professional sports team [or opera] is the psychological impact on community identity. Are we a
'major league city' or a backwater nobody.

Eric Cantona

As a huge soccer ("proper" football) fan it pains me to say this, but public financing for this sort of endeavor is a really, really bad idea.

My feeling is that if Paulson wants to make a go of it, he should purchase the stadium, and the land in Lents, and pay for any improvements. If it's economically feasible he gets to keep all the profits. He can rent both back to the City or any other entity wanting to use them for revenue generation. The reality is that there's probably no way to make that pencil out, though.

Which completely sucks because civic stadium (f**k PGE) would make an amazing place to watch football. Completing the horseshoe would make it one of the finest stadium's in the country for MLS games. The fans are already here. My guess is that there'd be 20k plus on average right out of the gate.

But public financing is not fair to those with little or no interest in the sport. The City should sell the stadium. Make it a good price for Paulson, hell give him a huge break on the property taxes like we do for Intel. Then we'll not have to worry about future renovation costs, or extra debt. Everyone wins, no?

Without the stadium upgrade you can kiss MLS goodbye. And they wont come around anytime again in the future. This is their last expansion for the foreseeable future by my understanding.

Go Timbers (in whatever form you take...)

Earl

Developers, BACK AWAY from the Open Space!

Portland citizens did not site public parks (and schools BTW) for YOUR private development.

Mec

I think I've given enough of my tax dollars to the Paulson family for the next decade or two.

Paul

As cities and communities, we're better off putting our money into sports facilities serving people in the area.

I appreciate sports and the pursuit of excellence. But spending public money, to enable obese America to sit and watch other people be active, seems a tad misdirected.

/\ I simply do not understand quotes like this, and perhaps it's because I did no grow up here. Back East and even in the Midwest, there is an appreciation of watching professional athletes perform at the highest levels of their respective sports; its not lazy, its not a waste of time, and in fact, I'd argue that it is an important expression of civic pride as well as an opportunity for stronger parent-child relationships. There is a sense of passion and pride for your team(s), and that is something that connects and brings total strangers together for a common social event, where everybody shares the same desire; to watch "your" team win. It is also a very family-friendly activity, a place where both parents and their children can go and comfortably enjoy something together, and enjoy spending time together. Teams, memories, history and passions for that team are passed down from parent to child, and that is often something that acts as a shared bond throughout both of their lives. And taking a kid to watch sports is an important tool in fostering an active lifestyle for them, as they will want to play the games that they watch. I'm not saying we need to be as uptight as Boston or Philly and live and die with every pitch, or cry on Sports Radio programs about an injury to a key player or whatever, but the lack of passion for anything regarding sports - professional, collegiate, or high school - is actually quite sad.

Professional Sports are an opportunity and we need to stop being apathetic towards something that could help this city, just because it's a 'corporate' idea. Do you have ANY idea about how much money a professional sports team brings to a city? Yes, a stadium is expensive, but there are creative solutions to deal with that (Owner provided, players tax revenue, etc). People from other places come to games, spend money at city restaurants, stay at city hotels, sight-see and purchase city souvenirs - A professional team becomes a marketing tool, a logo that you can put on merchandise and sell, and quite frankly, we could use that money. Wake up and play the game, people. You are missing out on a cash-cow that other cities have been taking advantage of for years now, and the longer we wait, the harder it will be to get a seat at the table and a larger piece of the pie.

Nikos

"a fat lady with Viking horns singing" is that what you think Opera is? Maybe the stereotype of the culturally clueless sports fan is true as well!

Brian Libby

Nikos, you strike me as a guy smart enough to deduce that I was highly exaggerating. I was kidding, in other words. I've been to numerous operas and gathered there was more to it than how opera was characterized here. You may also notice I quoted a movie line stereotyping athletes in the same heavy-handed manner.

Nikos

We are dramatic, us opera nerdy fans and we are tired of being relegated to nerd status, so we are biting back! I wish it weren't "us vs them" all the time, ie "culture" vs "sports" but it appears we are always faced with dichotomies. There's never enough money from the government in this country, unless it is for war (of course the money is not "for war" but for "our brave men and women etc etc") or more recently for greedy bankers. By way of example: If say, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the legendary orchestras of the WORLD, declared bankruptsy, and asked for, say, 30 million dollars to survive, would the fedral or state government put down the money to save it? We all know the answer is no, because the Arts and Opera, and Symphony and Dance and all the so called fine arts are part of "the elite" and they are supposed to raise their own money and pick themselves from their bootstraps.
By contrast,700,000,000,000 dollars for the Banks, sure, no problem. Here's the money and keep the change! We are mad, us "elite" types who like the Opera, and nice architecture and literature (God forbid) and fancy museums and we even get the point (imagine) that sports facilities can be part of civic pride and why not pay taxes to buy these toys, what a radical idea! I forget who said, "I don't mind paying taxes, they buy CIVILIZATION" including sports facilities!
I apologize for the long posting and the snarky comment (I know you are a bright guy Brian), but the era of Reagan slash and burn capitalism seems to be coming to an end, and silent we will no longer be, us "nerdy" types (We may come to regret it, but what the heck)

ws

I'm always dismayed at how much emphasis and money is devoted to sports, an activity that for too many people, simply functions as a sublimated replacement for war. I figure it's o.k. though. Better they do that than drag everyone into bloody wars.

It seems like kind of a drag that arts don't receive public/government funding as readily as sports does. In the final analysis though, I think that's probably best. I'd rather see the arts receive as little of that kind of funding as possible, to ensure that this human pursuit will continue to arise primarily from the heart and soul rather than the purse.

eric cantona

wow. working real hard at not calling WS bad names. WAR??? seriously? i've got so many counter-arguments running through my head right now it's hard to focus on just one. so i guess i'll resort to name calling anyway. you sir, are an idiot.

one other thing: can you back up your understanding that the arts do not receive as much funding as sports? my hunch is that it's the opposite.

but what would i know, i play sports so i must be a testosterone fueled neanderthal...

ws

"...testosterone fueled neanderthal...".

Yup. There are all kinds of individuals in sports, and sports competition seems just a little more disposed to that kind of human nature than does the arts. But maybe that's just my own impression.

I probably could back up my understanding that the arts don't receive as much funding as sports do, but I don't need to for my own understanding of the situation. Over the decades, there's been countless examples of art and music programs going by the wayside for lack of funding while sports...sports invariably seems to draw the interest of some rich guys that will throw down money so they can see the boys play, so the rich guys can 'beat' somebody.

Maybe finding out which of the two, arts or sports gets more money is something you need to do. Go ahead and do some research...then you can have fun calling me an "...idiot..." again if you find I'm wrong. I'd love to hear I was wrong and that performance arts is getting equal to or more money than sports is. Start with Portland or all of Oregon first(How about U of O and OSU? Remember their annual 'civil war' game?), then see what the figures are for the U.S. in general. Now I will grant that I've heard some European countries designate a much larger percentage of their budgets to the arts than does the U.S., but whether that percentage is greater than the percentage contributed to sports, I couldn't say. It may be, and I'm hoping it is.

At any rate, as I essentially said in an earlier comment, I'm not absolutely opposed to sports. People wanting to do sports should be able to. Actually, there are athletic pursuits I admire. Athleticism is a great thing. The competitive, business aspect of athleticism converted into pro sports isn't, as far as I'm concerned, and I don't believe I'm alone in that thinking. That's why I think that the less of it here in Portland, the better.

goose

isn't it possible for us to be a well-rounded city that supports the arts as well as sports? like many portlanders i can spend an entire day reading a book and thinking about how friggin intelligent i am (tounge in cheek) but honestly, i can't wait for the day that we get major league baseball. sports is much more than just athleticism. for spectators it is often about family ties, camraderie (and not in a war sense - these are "games" after all), tradition, nuance, grace, teamwork, etc. professional sports has indeed become grotesque in terms of the money that is thrown around but i would rather give my hard earned money to a baseball team that i can believe in and be entertained by than to say a church. i guess everybody has ther own religion.

Tim  DuRoche

Brian,
I didn't see any note of this here, but while it's true that Jules, "being a political science professor, [of course] understands that keeping the polity content and maybe even a little distracted from the dangers and struggles of everyday life, is the key to a stable society. . .", he's got some insight into the social capital of public space and leisure activity like sporting events since he was also a professional soccer player (Olympic hopeful).

He's got a very clearly sculpted argument with solid points, chiefly: "As wealthy businessmen, the Paulsons have options. Our schools, our infrastructure and our public transportation systems aren't so fortunate."

Similar quandaries to how stadiums have taken priority over community-building, economic investments like libraries, schools, and small-business occured in Minneapolis—where economic impact was argued as a justification for civic-extortion in the name of a new basketball facility, a covered dome and now a new baseball stadium. . .what's suffered has been fragmentation of neighborhood ecosystems and pockets of affordable housing, and distractions from much needed infrastructure like schools, libraries, public transportation and (witness the 35W bridge collapse) key linkages like roads and bridges.

But while we're entertaining ideas, how's about a land-use deal that puts the Wyndham "time-share resort" proposed for the Pearl over there too--we love that notion of Portland as a "European city"--so why not have something like a well-designed cultural amenity (think Gehry's American Center in Paris) partnered with mass-/mid-cult entertainment like soccer on the peripherique.
TdR

ws

Goose, as I've said before, I'm not much of a sports fan, but I kind of like baseball, and as a pro sport, if it could work out... . As I was thinking about this the other night, I thought that if Portland could have a pro baseball in a setting similar to that of Wrigley Field in Chicago, bring it on.

How does Chicago do it? Wrigley doesn't seem to have acres of asphalt wasteland surrounding it. There seems to be mostly 15 story or less buildings around it; apartments and such I suppose. Most of the people coming to Wrigley must be riding mass transit, biking or walking. Because of that, it's able to be just a ball park in a regular neighborhood (Wrigleyville...wikipedia has a nice article on the subject), like Civic Stadium in Portland is supposed to be, except the powers that be weren't prepared to do what was necessary to fix it in the way that was needed to let it work as a major league ball park.

If a pro sports team and requisite facility can integrate itself well into the city and community, then fine, but if it has to be imposed on the city to make it happen on the argument that doing so represents some enormous economic gold mine or statement of big city status, I think a lot of people are going to think 'just forget it'.

Paul

/\ Wrigley does it because it is an old ballpark, one where the neighborhood has grown in around it. And such, it still struggles with its place in the neighborhood; for example, the Cubs are not able to host games on Friday and Saturday Nights, and are in fact limited to just 30 night games a year at Wrigley. As for transportation, shuttles run from DeVry University campus a few blocks away, and there is an El Station just a block away. Otherwise, it is street and business parking lots, and they make a TON of money on it. I know the Taco Bell right outside of the ballpark used to charge like $20+ to park, and those rates would go up depending on the opponent, game time, time of year, etc.

We could have that here with Civic Stadium, but MLB would never happen in that location due to neighborhood association opposition. But on the other hand, I think MLS would be a perfect fit size-wise, and if we're going to have a major-league team of any type, they should play in a downtown, urban facility, a place where businesses can entertain people before and after the games. Those types of amenities are the moneymakers when you refer to economic benefits of a major league sports team, and they can be taxed by the city to raise revenue. If stadiums are built outside the city with nothing else to support it, then all people do is drive in, go to the game, and drive home - if they go at all. A game should be an experience, with places to hang out before and after the game, to eat and drink and celebrate victories and bemoan defeats with fellow fans. Its no different than any other cultural event - When I go to a play at PCS or Keller, I always eat out in the neighborhood before or after. Its not just the game, or the play, or the event - it's the whole experience.

ws

Paul, thanks for adding some dimension to the question of how Wrigley manages the spectator commute issue. Using university parking is a good idea. Portland should be able to do something similar; it's not as if the city is short on parking lots and structures downtown.

I'd always heard that Civic's main problem in terms of hosting MLB had something to do with physical limitations...something to do with left field and lack of an opportunity to sufficiently build out. I can't remember for sure, but I'm thinking Neighborhood Association opposition is related to people parking, going to their cars late in the evening, slamming doors, being loud, etc. Create ways to enable off-site parking work and that problem could go away.

goose

fenway likwise, ws. perhaps fenway and wrigley work because the town has grown around them but it doesn't mean a new ballpark wouldn't have the same success (without the mystique). i still think you could squeeze in a fenway sized ballpark on the postal property and it would be successful even though i know i'm in the minority on that issue. i also think having a major league baseball team would help resolve our insecurities about whether we've acheved "big city status" more than a waterfront observation tower and would benefit a greater number of people (referring to an earlier libby post).

as to brian's question i think public money should go to public school athletic fields before (if at all) going to private sports teams because the kids, you know, are our future and what they do with their bodies during those formative years is just as important as what they do with their minds.

Jim Heuer

Just a few clarifications in the discussion about Wrigley Field in Chicago and its "fit" into a largely residential neighborhood -- from a former resident of that area...

The Addison Station on the "Red Line" is adjacent to the ballpark, and yes, many thousands of attendees at the games ride the CTA trains. That line has lots of capacity (the daily ridership is around 100,000) and the CTA typically runs extra trains before and after the games. There are also a number of heavily used bus lines that run right by it.

The restrictions on night games are not so much related to transportation and parking but to light. The huge banks of lights that are needed to illuminate the field for TV coverage can't be shielded easily from the surroundings, and are enormously annoying for the surrounding condominium dwellers. The restriction on night play was a compromise worked out with the neighborhood association to make the situation at least tolerable to them while facing the reality that a MLB team needs night games.

As to the neighborhood itself, it developed with the construction of the Howard Street "EL" line in 1905. Most of the 6-flats and 3-flats in the area date to right around that time. The ball-park itself was built in 1914, so basically was plopped into the middle of a residential neighborhood, the genesis of which is probably an interesting story, but I don't know what it is.

Take aways from this are: 1) Major sports venues can thrive without tons of local parking IF there is a very robust transit infrastructure (sorry, but Portland doesn't have anything like Chicago's CTA); and 2) Big sports stadiums are an un-easy fit in a predominantly residential neighborhood.

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