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DM

I don't see one of the most practical solutions mentioned anywhere: sell the MC, for what a 10,000 seat arena is worth ($25M -$50M).

It solves several problems: it brings in money to the city, instead of requiring spending; it adds the property to the tax roles; any buyer willing to spend $25M or more (plus renovation costs) is very likely to reuse the existing facility as much as possible, rather than raze it and build something new; and the Rose Garden will actually have competition for events rather than a rigged monopoly, which should help hold ticket prices down. Unless it is the RG crowd that buys the MC.

Now all we need to do is find someone interested in owning a medium-sized arena. What could Adidas, Nike, or Columbia Sportswear do with an arena? Or a consortium of colleges (Lewis & Clark, Concordia, Warner Pacific, PSU, U of P, etc.)?

Douglas K.

Why sell it if the City or Metro can run it at a profit? Based on the numbers published in the Oregonian, it looks like "profit" isn't too tall of an order.

Something I'd like to know: as a City-owned building, would fixing the Coliseum (just basic renovation and maybe some green improvements) be the sort of "shovel-ready" project that would qualify for federal stimulus funding? Because if so, we could have it into a "good-as-new" condition next year, paid for by federal money, and ready to give Portland another fifty years of service as a local-sporting-events-and-medium/large-concert venue.

dennis

Banning hoodies in Portland? well that is a doomed project for anyone.

I have been thinking about this for a while now, much like everyone else that has been posting on Brian's site. Now granted we are looking at multiple factors as a whole with the MLS, the Beavers, the MC, and this Cordish development, but in the case of focusing in on just the MC and the Rose Quarter, BM brings up a very important factor that I forgot about.

PSU, the men's basketball team has made it the the NCAA two years in a row now. Years ago, Gonzaga was in the same boat, they finally started to make it to the NCAA and over time started to become good at it, now they have a new arena...the MC would make a great replacement for the current Stott Center on PSU which is a joke of an arena for college basketball. PSU will eventually start thinking about a bigger place for the team and this would save the school money when all it would need is a renovation and not have to build a new stadium from scratch.

Also, there needs to be a development plan in place for the Rose Quarter, including the PPS site...it would make sense to add attractions to this area such as an aquarium, the Nike Museum (which I feel is odd that we dont have one yet...seriously), the addition of the SMART tower that was proposed. Then to fill in the area would be a master planned mix use development much like the Brewery Blocks...though the housing aspect might be a harder addition simply because who wants to live at the Rose Quarter.

That area will eventually be a tourist trap, but like the tourist trap around the space needle in Seattle, it should be our tourist trap that still manages to reflect what Portland stands for.

Mike Francis

As Ted Sickinger's story noted, Cordish hasn't endeared itself to Kansas City. One of its clumsiest moves was to oppose granting the festival zoning it enjoys to a much more genuine, Civil War-era tavern district in Kansas City called Westport. Ultimately, Westport may get the designation, allowing patrons to wander about with beer, but Cordish sees it as a rival.

Steve

Why does it have to be run at a profit? Do any of our community centers or parks run a profit?

DM

Douglas:

Governments aren't very adept at running anything at a profit. Decisions are made as much for political reasons as for business reasons. Further, businesses that compete with the MC would rightly worry that a profit-making government-owned MC would get VERY preferential treatment over their businesses. Why do you think the RG people insisted on being given control of the MC? They didn't want to compete on an uneven basis with the MC.

No, leave profit-making to the private sector; they do it better. Let government be the disinterested referee when squabbles erupt between the RG and the MC.

ws

What is this Cordish Company in the business of doing? It sounds as though they're in the business of synthesizing various notions of what a vital, profit generating downtown district is, then successfully persuading cities to buy the idea and let it be planted in their cities.

Wow. I've got a bad feeling about this idea. I hope Portland doesn't buy into it. The city needs something real for the RQ. These things Cordish builds are not. People get bored, even offended by these kinds of retail engineering developments after the shine dims a little. Disneyland knows how to do it well (and they may be the exception) and keep it going, but are their techniques something that city leaders should be attempting to impose on their fellow citizens? Doing that kind of thing is a little hard on individual creativity.

It would be better if the RQ could build its entertainment component organically through individuals and small business entrepreneurs. Are city leaders looking to some of Portland's already successful entertainment/retail districts for ideas of how to revitalize the RQ?

What about NW 23rd? How About Mississippi Avenue? People actually enjoy going to those two districts, to hang out and relax. (Not to forget though, how developers in those places have been allowed, after helping to eradicate some long-standing decay to gradually muck up the pleasant experience those places seek to provide.)

Letting things influenced by such places take hold in the RQ seems like a much more intelligent approach than is this idea of a relying on a single developer to be responsible for a successful concept.

billb

Retail and Entertainment are Dead.
23rd street is closing down , the Pearl has empty restaurants and closed doggie sweatershops.

The MC can be a Great Community Athletic Center. I would repeat the fine thought above , 'why does it have to profit?' Picture Climbing walls in the MC concourse , arching bike velodrome tracks , glorious skatepark sculptures.
KEEP PDX WIERD!

amanda

I think it needs to make a profit so that the upkeep and upgrades can be maintained.

Your point that you raised here in regards to the profit sharing between RG and the city really made a light bulb go off in my head. I was at a concert there a few years ago and other than thinking the place looked dumpy, I was really taken aback by their "beer garden." It was a conference room with zero tables or chairs and taps set up next to a folding table. All there was in the room were garbage cans. Nice.

Most places make a lot of money from beer and wine and food sales. Not a place like that. No one wanted to hang out there and buy anything. I figured they just wanted my concert stub and that was it.

I think knocking down good buildings in this day and age is foolhardy and irresponsible. But so is letting it be run into the ground. That place needs upgrades, marketing and events. It's really hard to do that on a non-profit budget. I like the Nike idea and the PSU idea -- there should be monthly feats-of-strength!

obaggins

billb,
The reason that it has to make a profit is that if it is city-run or dependent upon any revenue from the City, then it will always come down to cutting other programs in the general fund, no more park maintenance, etc.

o'baggins

Douglas K.

Governments aren't very adept at running anything at a profit. Decisions are made as much for political reasons as for business reasons.

We've got plenty of local examples of revenue operations run by the City that do just fine, including Portland International Raceway and Portland's public golf courses.

It doesn't need to turn a HUGE profit, but the Coliseum should be a self-sustaining revenue operation. As amanda noted, it needs to fun upkeep and upgrades. Besides, it's an easier political sell if the Coliseum proposal can pay its own way year to year.

That said, I think Brian's idea was excellent:

Doug Obletz's MARC amateur recreation complex in the exhibition hall, add Louvre-style light wells (a la IM Pei's pyramid), and suddenly you've got the stuff the Blazers and Cordish want to add without taking away a viable extra venue with special architectural qualities.

Extend the athletic complex into the lower floor of the Coliseum proper, and part of the first floor as well, and there's space to put in just about everything Obletz proposed except the aquatic center. It might mean scaling back some of the proposals a bit (fewer basketball courts, fewer nautilus machines, shorter climbing wall, a much smaller sports medicine facility), but there's room for everything else. The bowl itself could host most of the competitive sports envisioned for the field house (ice hockey, basketball, indoor soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, track and field events). It would allow development of a facility that's functionally similar to MARC at a fraction of the capital cost. There might even be a way to run the facility at a much smaller subsidy or at break-even levels. (The 2004 proposal would have required a $2 million annual subsidy, which was probably a deal-breaker in itself.)

scott

I've always wondered...why do we think any large amount of people would use the MC as a Rec Facility, rather than fitness clubs in their neighborhoods...and students in HS usually have a weight/training room in the school...don't they? Seems odd to go all the way to the MC AND have to pay to use the facilities...just wondering

dave

Turn the MC into an office building. It already looks like one. The Blazers could move in, demolish their old building, and turn the land into whatever entertainment district they want. If the office space is cheap enough, it could be the catalyst for another big company to move to Portland...might work for the Vesta windmill folks. Seems like a better and more profitable use for the building than anything else that I have heard...and still keeps the building. By my calculation, you would get about 500,000 of office space even if you add an atrium in the middle and in the front of the building.

Earl

You don't have to run a profit to upgrade and maintain your buildings. Libraries and other non-profits upgrade and maintain their facilities.

A profit is nice but not necessary.

Greg

You are neglecting to mention a crucial point in considering the mix of activities at the MC and the RG - Allen paid for the RG out of his own pocket and after 15 years is still carrying a nine figure debt on the facility (hardly a profit-making venture... neither was the team, but that's a separate issue).

Sure, you can brush that off and say who cares, he's rich and that's his problem, but the fact is that if Allen had not paid for this building out of his own pocket (unlike most cities where their newer basketball arenas were publicly funded), the Blazers would have fled the suite-less MC and the city of Portland a long time ago.

So you can keep quoting the PSU economics professor all you want about how the Blazers have supposedly rigged it to run the MC at a loss on purpose, but that point does not take into account the broader context of the situation - namely, that the RG is a privately funded facility and it is only fair for the city to give Allen first shot at making money at the RG in order to pay off the mammoth debt.

I mean, are you seriously suggesting that the city should try to compete directly against Allen after the decades of goodwill, the steal of a deal that the city got on building the RG, and the hundreds of millions of dollars that Allen has eaten on behalf of Blazer fans and the city of Portland? Because that's what it sounds like to me when you keep quoting that PSU prof.

ws

Sure, though I myself am not a sports fan, I know people want to have a big-time professional ball team in their town. My mom's a totally enthralled Trailblazer fan. The Blazers hold a sentimental soft spot in the hearts of Portland citizens, so it would be a little tough without the team, but has its presence really made up for the major disappointment of the Rose Garden arena development?

With his RQ development and the RG arena, Paul Allen has left Portland with a desert that no one really seems to understand how to make flourish and grow again. 'Again', because, remember, at one time, to hear tell, it was a vibrant, ordinary neighborhood before the MC. Maybe the city should level the entire RQ including the MC, and allow a real neighborhood to grow there again...one that people making less than $40,000yr can actually afford to live in.

Seriously, I'm glad the MC has got a shot at a continued presence in Portland. I'd like to think a real neighborhood and vibrant business district could develop around it and the RG arena. Admonishing the city to humble itself before 'deep pockets' Paul Allen isn't such a great idea. He's a high stakes gambler. If that's his thing, fine, but for its own health, the city had better know not to be sold another mirage.

Paul

From the inside of the Coliseum it looks like a rail station. Hmmmmm......

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