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Jim

Why is it a given that the Timbers MUST play at PGE Park? It seems so silly to renovate a building to fit a different sport than was never intended to be played in it, only to kick out a team that could still be useful there. PGE is a baseball park for heaven's sake. The current plan calls for a major upgrade to PGE Park AND and new stadium for baseball. Why not just look for a home for MLS elsewhere.

Is this a possible back door to getting MLB in Portland? If we are forced to build a new baseball stadium for the Beavers, it would be short-sited to build anything that couldn't be expanded for MLB.

Is this what's really happening? I don't see any other logical reason to kick baseball out of PGE Park other than the fact that it can't fit a future 45,000 seat stadium.

Aneeda

Jim - interesting question and one I've been asking myself as well. What is the rationale?

One of the great things about PGE park is the visibility of the street from within the park. It's great to sit and watch a game and be able to see the street car go by. My question is whether a seating reconfiguration would eliminate this feature of the park.

thoughts?

MatthewM

"Hopefully the City Council knows better. (Luckily the Blazers already do.)"

hahahahahahahahaha!!! I'm going to laugh so hard when the B's knock down (or gut) your precious 'architectural wonder' to put up a Fuddruckers. Enjoy that support for now, Libs, 'cause once the Beavs/Timbers are out of the way the Blazers are going to be on you like useless on your columns.

MatthewM

Oh, and Lib-ster, please actually read what is said in the city council meetings about why duel use will not work. I mean, I don't expect your or Aneeda to actually look into the situation before spewing your inanities into the void, but it would be a nice change. For your reference, you can get this information by following up with your city council or by watching the meetings like we, the committed members of the community who aren't just 'one issue' ponies, have.

billb

I love PGE Park as much as the next ol time portlander , but
it has no parking. It does not draw because it is a pain to
get to , and try and park somewhere 12 blocks away ,
in the yuppie hood where one is not welcome. Please don't tell me to ride the train , each one holds a tiny percentage of a stadium crowd , and is quite unpleasant when jammed full. I would give PGE to PSU , and build new on any of the great urban sites mentioned.

Jim

Personally, I have no problem with committing to two separate facilities for these very different viewing configurations. That's just common sense from my perspective. I'm just wondering why we'd send the Beavers packing when the status quo for them is a pretty sweet situation. It just doesn't make sense. Why not build a new stadium from scratch for soccer rather than some less-than-perfect retrofit at PGE Park. Maybe I am too much of a purest when it comes to stadiums but I always like some amount of symetry based on the sport being played and my view of it. You just won't get that from this plan. Also, you'll lose that great connection with the city that PGE Park has.

Bad plan altogether.

Client 9

I can't wait until the Blazers turn the Coliseum into a suburban wasteland of Dave & Busters and Coyote Ugly and you aspiring urban planners can watch your beloved architectural masterpiece devolve into some McDonaldized, non-Portland Fun District of Funner than Fun Fun.

And as for the mixed-use argument, it's been fleshed out, and it gives neither soccer or baseball the best chance to succeed. Retractable seats are a disaster when it comes to fan experience, and it's not fair to either team to hold them hostage to the other team's schedule. Not to mention as an owner you want to give your corporate ticket holders value for their money, and for soccer that means not having luxury boxes located in the furthest possible distance from midfield with the worst sightlines.

And as a side note, it's no wonder this city has such a bland skyline when our architects actually think the Memorial Coliseum is an architectural wonder.

Pounder

I could see one, and maybe only one, way this works.

If retractable seating, when folded, occupies no more than 5 to 7 feet off the current wall...

If more retractable seating can be placed over the dugouts, over the west wall, and elsewhere...

If the MAC can be imploded and removed, along with Salmon Street immediately south of that, so room is created for the grass soccer field to float or ride in over the baseball surface (after all, even Barry Johnson knows that field use needs to be limited for good professional surfaces)...

...then we might have a plan. Thing is, my gut feeling is that I'd need a bigger calculator to compute the cost of that plan.

Brian Libby

Matthew M,

Thanks for the two comments. Entertaining stuff!

You're totally right that the Blazers could still wind up altering the Coliseum to the point where it's no longer the Coliseum. If there's a Fudruckers there, needless to say I'll be disappointed. But at least the Blazers aren't looking to demolish the whole thing for a baseball stadium very few seem to care about.

It sure sounds like you have an agenda and an angry attitude. I can't criticize that, because I could say the same of myself sometimes. So I'm going to withhold some of my personal thoughts or hand gestures regarding yourself from this public forum.

Meanwhile, your arguments don't sway me in the slightest, my grandstanding pal. (Since you call me 'Libs' I assume terms of endearment are OK.) You belittle Memorial Coliseum's architectural history, or the idea of there being buildings of noteworthy architecture being preserved at all. Just because you don't appreciate the suberb midcentury modern design by one of America's most renowned firms doesn't mean that quality doesn't exist.

I've read lots of City Council minutes and testimony, and I don't recall anyone explicitly stating why there is no legal or architectural means of co-locating the Beavers and Timbers together at PGE in a way that satisfies MLS stipulations.

If there are such documents or testimonials, please feel free to enlighten us with that information. It would be a lot more valuable to the conversation than your schoolyard namecalling tactics and trash talking. However, if that's the verbal weaponry you want to continue using, I will be here 24/7/365 to share in the exchange.

MatthewM

Oh, sorry, Libbsy...did I strike a chord? It's okay, bud, you can cry yourself to sleep in the Memorial Fuddruckers that will be in the place of the Coliseum. Per your post, you'd happy to see a chain restaurant rather than something as horrible as a ballpark, so you'll probably have your way in two or so years.

You can call me whatever you want, I can care less. Just because someone has a blog doesn't mean they have something to say...

Toodles, dear heart!

MatthewM

Oh, and just to clarify some points:

*You belittle Memorial Coliseum's architectural history, or the idea of there being buildings of noteworthy architecture being preserved at all.

- Never said it and don't believe it...however, just because something is old it doesn't make it good. If everything old is special what makes things like Falling Water truly special?

*Just because you don't appreciate the suberb midcentury modern design by one of America's most renowned firms doesn't mean that quality doesn't exist.

- Well, obviously, you're such an expert yours is the only opinion that should matter, right? SUBERB!

Thanks for the attempt, though, amusing!

Brian Libby

Client 9,

You say, "it's no wonder this city has such a bland skyline when our architects actually think the Memorial Coliseum is an architectural wonder."

It's all relative. I'm not suggesting that Memorial Coliseum is up there with the greatest historical architecture in the world. It's not the Taj Mahal or St. Paul's Cathedral or Lever House. But it IS one of the principal and only examples in Portland of mid-20th century modern architecture.

It's also the execution of a beautifully simple, pure design idea -- the bowl in the box. Maybe the building is too run down now for people like yourself to see what's there.

Most importantly, Memorial Coliseum is one of the only arenas in the world that can act in an indoor-outdoor fashion, allowing expansive skyline views from the interior seating bowl.

You can argue all you want that the Coliseum's design quality has been exaggerated and it's not the masterpiece we supporters complain. But this is only partially relevant. What can be agreed upon is that it's a special work of architecture that an overwhelming majority of Portlanders -- especially but not at all limited to the design and architecture community -- want to preserve.

Go ahead, cynics: try and argue that the Coliseum isn't a masterpiece. You know what? We'll grant you that. But you can't argue that the Coliseum isn't a unique piece of Portland's architectural history. It just simply is. If you don't like it doesn't make it untrue. Just as would be the case if I were the only one that thought the Coliseum was a standout - I wouldn't have been able to convince such a wide swatch of Portlanders otherwise. But luckily the community, unlike yourself, believes in the value of this building.

Client 9

OK Brian ...

Was this "wide swath" of Portlanders that you convinced about the MC's cultural significance willing to foot the bill for maintaining it?

It's easy to say "don't tear it down." Are you willing to suggest a profitable use for the building that doesn't expose Portland taxpayers?

Didn't think so.

MatthewM

"It's also the execution of a beautifully simple, pure design idea -- the bowl in the box."

'Nuff said...

And Client 9, the broad swath = the Blazers, Paul Allen's money, and Libby's parents.

Brian Libby

Matthew M,

You did not strike a chord over the use of 'Libs'. Call me whatever you want: Libbsy, Libski, Liberino.

Let's stop the vitriol -- for which I'm equally responsible, admittedly -- and return this to a civil conversation.

It sounds like you're skeptical that the Blazers will be good stewards of the Coliseum. I don't disagree with you at all on that. Any Fuddruckers, Chilis, or another chain inside the building would be disastrous. And if our Friends of Memorial Coliseum group gets manipulated by the Blazers along the way, that would obviously be bad.

However, I and the FOMC have always had twin goals: first to stop outright demolition for a baseball stadium, and second to stop a bad renovation that turns the building into an entertainment mall.

If you're resentful and cynical about the Coliseum being saved from demolition only to be carved up into an entertainment mall, I don't blame you. I don't want that either.

It sounds like the main thing we disagree about is the level of architectural/historical quality and significance in the Coliseum .

I see your point that the Coliseum is not a masterpiece on the highest level with world classics. It's a fair point. But I also refuse to concede that it's without architectural significance. It's a very important midcentury modern public building. This is not simply my opinion, but that of many, many people. It's why organizations like the National Trust, the American Institute of Architects, and the US Green Building Council wrote City Council imploring that the Coliseum be preserved.

So don't get caught up in splitting hairs over words like "superb", and don't try to make this simply a black-and-white, either-or proposition. Is it quite superb or something less than superb? Nobody can say definitively.

I think we can find common ground on this. Even if you don't like the building, you have to acknowledge that many many Portlanders do.

And I hope that Portland is able to find a spot for a Beavers ballpark, whether it's at PGE Park or somewhere else. I don't care about minor-league baseball at all, but I respect the fact that many others do. Let's find the Beavers a stadium and solve this.

It's true that the attitude of your posts got me angry. But I'm trying real hard here, Matthew, to meet you half way. I'm sure you're not the asshole I've made you out to be, and I think you'll find I'm not one either. I've never tried to make it seem like my opinions about architecture are gospel, and I've endeavored over the last four years of blogging here to make this a very open conversation. Admittedly I can be combative, but ultimately I'd like to have a civilized conversation.

Is that OK, Toodles?

Brian Libby

Matthew M and Client 9,

Regarding cost, Memorial Coliseum turned a profit during the time that Global Spectrum was managing the arena during Oregon Arena Corporation's bankruptcy year.

It's entirely plausible for a renovated Coliseum to turn a profit, and to fund the renovation with future profits.

At the same time, I don't think the question of the Coliseum can be dealt with only by a financial discussion. The Coliseum is owned by the citizens of Portland, and it's one of many public spaces that don't turn profits. Does Waterfront Park turn a profit?

Besides, although the Blazers may have different plans for the Coliseum than I and preservationists would like to see, they do have money to spend on the Rose Quarter - from Paul Allen, of course, and also the Cordish Company that figures to develop it.

I'm not saying finance doesn't fit in here. It does. But the question of saving a historic building can not be made simply on financial considerations. If that were the case, we'd have no City Hall, no Pittock Mansion, no Skidmore Historic District.

MatthewM

More than fair, I have no personal beef. I just feel that you're just doing the spadework for the Blazers and Cordish...and no, I don't think you have an agenda, I just disagree with your stance and when I read about the 'conspiracy' and your response to the gentleman with the Oregonian opinion piece, I too get angry.

In my opinion, the Memorial Coliseum's historical and architectural importance to the city of Portland do not outweigh the land its on, the maintenance expended to maintain it, and the resources it uses up. Simple as that. I respect the conservation of buildings and architecture when the building is of historic value or breathtaking beauty. No offense to the simplicity of the 'Bowl in the Box', but I don't think it meets that criteria. The St. John's Bridge? Sure...even things like the White Eagle...yes! But just because the Blazers won a title there and a very specialized group of people admire its designer's pedigree and history...sorry, not for me.

Greg

Brian,

I really hope that a designer can crack the code and come up with a multipurpose stadium that works for baseball and football/soccer. It may happen. From what I've heard, the new Cardinals stadium works pretty well for football and basketball, so we may get there someday.

That being said, the retractable seating only scratches the surface at the issues which must be overcome. You also have to deal with the fields themselves, the seating configuration (angles), the dugouts, and hospitality suites.

And no matter how you slice it, PGE Park is a terrible site for 72 AAA ballgames a year. I believe that the effort to relocate the Beavers rather than the Timbers comes from the fact that not only is it cheaper to build a smaller ballpark for the Beavers, but also because it's easier to make a ballpark be closer to self-funding (think 72 dates a year rather than 20-25 for MLS + PSU Football).

Also, Jack Murphy (now Qualcomm) Stadium is still being used by the San Diego Chargers, although the Padres left for Petco Park in downtown SD.

One last thing - I asked you for a link to back up your claim that the city is supposedly 8-1 in favor of keeping Memorial Coliseum as-is rather than building a baseball stadium there, but you didn't respond.

As I mentioned in another op-ed piece, I think that a full vetting of all proposals for the Memorial Coliseum site should be considered, and a ballpark should be included among the options. It wouldn't be fair for Paulson and three councilmembers to cut a backroom deal to demolish the MC, but neither is it fair for the Blazers and a band of preservationists to unilaterally freeze the MC as-is in perpetuity. All sides should be heard, not just the people who scream the loudest.

GK107

Mr. Libby - I would recommend going to the City Council meeting minutes and video from last Wednesday's meeting. Commissioner Nick Fish pointedly asked Don Mazziotti the question you asked, why can't the teams share PGE Park?

His answer indicated that they looked into the solution, examined retractable and portable seating to get the teams to share. But the issue was that it cost a lot to put retractable seats there, and the center field wall is a retaining wall that is actually helping support the MAX tracks running along SW 18th. It wouldn't work for that, and MLS asks for stadiums to have east and west side seats. And based upon the expense, it actually was determined that a triple AAA ballpark could be built for less than what it would cost to build a true MLS park in another location.

I understand the significance of the MC, but if the simple "architectural wonder" of the building is the only reason to keep it around, I'm all for raising it and rebuilding another stadium on the site.

Pounder

Nick Fish, last Wednesday, asks Don Mazziotti why sharing would be a problem.

Digging into the wall on the east side could cause 18th and the light rail track on it to slide into the stadium. You'd be removing support.

For that matter, walk up 20th about where the stadium and MAC come together... you'll note the angle of the sidewalk and the grass for several feet. It DID happen on that side of the stadium.

Also... the backstop is supposed to be no less than 50 feet behind home plate, which is exactly where it is in PGE Park, so home plate cannot be moved back. A 317-foot left field fence is already a bit close in for what baseball wants... for AAA, managers would prefer to see more honest fences so as not to skewer statistics too much, since players are being evaluated for moving up to the majors. Also, in most parks, the right field fence is closer in than the left field fence because there are more right-handed hitters- left-handedness is encouraged, but PGE Park gets this wrong.

Most of all, look at Google Earth for these AAA stadiums AND for MLS. In most cases elsewhere, the front row comes a lot closer to the field at other parks than at PGE Park. The Beavers simply don't draw well in the park (the worst attendance for a downtown ballpark in AAA), partially because the views are awkward, partially because parking in the area for an everyday sport is not optimal.

One thing I'm concluding is, even if MLS ends up out of the picture, you won't see the Beavers at PGE Park much longer. The location and the layout are not economical for the Beavers. Sharing is physically a very poor option and is still not optimal for baseball. Baseball is no good simply in existence; it has to draw fans. In Portland's case, it has to draw more than it does now.

Matt

Mr Libby:

Please explain what the MC could be used for. Be realistic. What tenant, or purpose would make this building worthwhile from an econmoic standpoint? How much money would it take to rennovate it?

I just don't see it. Minor league hockey, Amway meetings, and second tier concerts in a dank setting with crappy acoustics are not really going to cut it in my estimation...

It seems you are a one man band here. Hey Ebbets Field, Tiger Stadium....much more vaulted and esteemed architecture. Where are they now? Dust my friend, dust....

And most people don't care too much...

Brian Libby

Matt,

Memorial Coliseum already has a use: as a 10,000 to 12,000 seat arena. It has been found to turn a profit with this purpose, as per Global Spectrum's tenure managing the arena. Without question, the Coliseum needs maintenance and restoration. The profit from a renovated Coliseum could pay for the renovation. And if it doesn't, Paul Allen and the Trail Blazers are looking to spend many millions on the Rose Quarter. If the Coliseum can have its architectural integrity preserved (keeping the bowl), there could be common ground on this. Obviously I don't like some of the entertainment mall ideas being suggested for the Coliseum. But at least the Blazers aren't trying to demolish the building. I'd rather work with them on a palatable renovation than see the building demolished.

Anybody who wants to argue that the Coliseum shouldn't be preserved by citing examples of other stadiums and arenas that already have been razed is making a point that only partially holds water. Every building is a different situation. And who is to say tearing those other buildings down was right? What's more, Ebbets Field and Tiger Stadium, the places you cited, are a little different from an indoor arena like the Coliseum, which has a broader multipurpose function.

It's not just minor league hockey and Amway meetings. It's college basketball, high school basketball, and a host of political rallies, concerts, etc. Not every event is suitable for the 20,000 seat Rose Garden next door. Memorial Coliseum can fit nicely with the RG as a smaller alternative. It's clearly not the normal way to do things, but I'm saying Portland can continue its pioneering, sustainable spirit by doing something different.

Jazbo deFreeze

Matt. Did you forget to take your medication today?

Greg

Memorial Coliseum is not and most certainly will not turn a profit in its present form... and if it ever did run in the black, it would only do so at the expense of other facilities in town (including privately-funded facilities like the RG, the now-defunct Kingstad Center, and the Clark County Fairgrounds).

The city claimed the MC was running up losses until last month when Sam Adams changed his tune on the MC. When you look deeper you will see a financial mess at the MC. First of all, they are allocating parking revenues to the MC regardless of whether the MC generated those revenues. And second, the opearating budgets are neglecting necessary repairs and maintenance (it even says this in the footnotes of the city's budget... that the MC is only in a short term operating mode and needs up to $20 million in repairs).

Also, I'm still waiting for your link to the 8:1 poll... does this poll exist? Or are you having too much fun debating Matt instead? If it doesn't exist or you can't find a link, that's fine, I'd just like to know. Thank you.

Brian Libby

Greg,

I'm sorry I haven't answered your poll question. It absolutely exists, although I'm afraid I've been unsuccessful in trying to find the poll online any longer. I realize since I can't offer you any proof there is reason to be skeptical. And I'll also admit that even if the results of the poll could be found and the 8-to-1 margin verified, polls are notorious for being able to manipulate answers depending on how questions are phrased.

All I can tell you is to my best recollection, I saw a poll on KEX's website in April during the City Council consideration of the baseball stadium plan for the Rose Quarter. The numbers indicated an 83-16 margin for the answer "no" to the question of whether Memorial Coliseum should be torn down. If that was indeed how the question was phrased, clearly it would not take into account all the other issues tied to the Coliseum in that regard, such as PGE Park, MLS and the Timbers, etc.

Maybe you are correct that the Coliseum has not turned a profit since the Rose Garden was built. I think we can all agree that something needs to change. I'm just saying that the Coliseum can be part of the solution. The best thing about the building they never take advantage of: the ability to open the curtain and make the whole arena a fishbowl looking out at the city.

I actually liked, at least in principle, aspects of the two main proposals for the Coliseum besides being razed for a stadium: Doug Obletz's amateur recreation complex and the Blazers' current idea (told to me in a recent meeting) to have a combination of a Nike museum supported by local bars and restaurants (not chains). But I wanted both of them to preserve not only the exterior glass skin, but the bowl inside. Particularly with the large space existing underground in the exhibition hall, I'd wanted either of those plans to spare the bowl and incorporate it into their otherwise continuing plans.

I don't mean to ignore business and financial necessities and realities. I'm just saying that the Coliseum is an untapped resource. We can agree it's not profitable now. I'm saying that with the right design talent applied to the case, the Coliseum could be the anchor of a much more vibrant Rose Quarter.

It's healthy to be realistic and to have healthy skepticism about things, but since we're looking to the future and how the Coliseum might be part of it, I think it's entirely reasonable to be a bit of a dreamer and not just thinking rigidly about what the economic realities of the present day are. Portland is trying to become a world leader in sustainable architecture and high density urban design. All of these goals are rooted in the kind of thinking that would preserve and restore the Coliseum as part of the future. Saving the building isn't just my desire, but part of the DNA of the city and what it seeks to become.

Ken Bauer

Time for a sales tax. Proper use of this tax could help infuse the Oregon economy, pay for needed functions and sports facilities could be built and tourism expanded. IT'S TIME! Too much is put on the property owner. A sales taxation plan could help solve all these issues. Portland needs to intice business, not scare it away. And Sports are an important part of a city's morale. For all the, "we don't need sports, there's huntin' & fishin' " Imagine a hundred thou at your favorite fishin' hole at the same time. Use a sales tax to get it all done & build the economy back up & save the City of Portland from becoming a desolate outpost.

Steve L.

Detroit may have finally, sadly torn down Tiger Stadium this year (after sitting vacant for 10 years) but Detroit did not tear down COBO Hall, which is much more like the MC.

Though the Pistons left COBO in 1978, it has since been successfully been used as a concert and convention venue.

These small older basketball stadiums are much more versatile facilities than old baseball stadiums.

Greg

Steve L. - Detroit (which is still twice the size of Portland, but shrinking) is paying massive subsidies to keep Cobo Arena open, and there is a fair possibility (but who knows, considering how backwards and corrupt that town is) that the arena will be imploded as part of the deal to get a remodel of Joe Louis arena.

Here is a recent entry from the MichiganLive.com blog:

"As for Cobo Arena, save the handful of concerts it hosts, it sits there, drawing funds from the same massive pool required to maintain the rest of the Cobo complex."

dennis

Just some things to point out, PGE Park was never meant to be a baseball park, it was constructed as a horse track that has turned into a multi use stadium.

Brian, you ask about a design solution for the Timbers and Beavers to both play at PGE, and my question would be, how do you add more seating on both sides of the field for one sport and take away seating for a more intimate feel for another sport? PGE is too big for AAA, it would make sense for them to be in a ballpark that is designed for baseball.

There are plenty of great sites, the problem is, no one wants to actually spend any money for this, not Paulson, not the City Council, not neighborhoods...so if the city council wishes to keep the team, some form of real financial plan will need to come into effect for this.

Also, I have said this before and I will say it again, a great use for the MC would be to have it be the home for the PSU Vikings, the mens basketball team has made it to the NCAA two years in a row now and are going to need a better place to play than the Stott Center, which is seriously, just a high school gym. Playing at the MC, would give their team more exposure and more ticket sales...plus you add in other minor league teams that could use the space or are currently using it, with a number of events that could use the space...sounds like there is enough of a need for the MC, its just people have to get off there ass and actually use it.

rhome

One of the earliest posts here mentions the importance of the sight lines out of the stadium toward 18th Ave. I'm glad somebody else brought this up. But it's not just looking out that's important, looking in from the street might even be more important.

It has been a goal of the Goose Hollow Neighborhood Association to preserve this view as it brings transparency and inclusion to what would otherwise be a large wall. Recognizing and preserving the public's view into the stadium is part of the Good Neighbor Agreement that PGE Park has with the Goose Hollow neighborhood. I do hope they strongly consider making PGE a people's park in the redesign -- one that looks out as well as in.

While I too would welcome a way to make the stadium dual use and keep the Beavers there, I do not hold out much hope that this can be done. I thus resign myself (although happily) to PGE Park becoming a venue for soccer, football, and concerts. I look forward to future discussions on this blog about what the park should look like.

Steve L.

Greg-

Your quote about COBO is from George James Malik is “a 28-year old freelance writer who has a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan” and who appears to be a resident of Ann Arbor Michigan. I don’t think his opinion of COBO’s financial future is more relevant than the Detroit Mayor’s.

As well, Mr. Malik is recommending future Detroit visitors would be better served in the burbs. “With cheaper, more accessible, and more modern facilities in the suburbs to turn to, there's no point in holding a convention or trade show downtown at a facility that hasn't been upgraded or updated since the late 80's.”

There are many other examples of arenas around the country, like MC, that are still in productive use. LA has the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and the Great Western Forum.

Bruce E

Brian, and others who think soccer and baseball can share, please visit PGE Park tonight (Timbers v. Sounders at 7pm) and witness how the stadium functions when at capacity. You'll find that it doesn't. I look forward to your design solutions that address capacity and dual purpose.

billb

The MC is a fine work of Modern Architecture , and it is OK if you don't like it , but many who appreciate Good Design do. Now enough about the MC turning a profit , it is a Civic Amenity , and how do you place Quality in your lil round pie chart. If every piece of the city had to turn a profit we would toll you on every bridge and freeway.
Charge you when the Cops save your azz , and when the when our brave firemen and women go into your burning home to save your
granma.

David R Brown III AIA/CSI

Memorial Coliseum?

Baron and others are absolutely correct. This building is an albatross of present and future debt, a building that does not represent any uniquely significant historical status but does occupies a site that is ideal for installation of a major baseball stadium. It is unfortunate that city leaders do not have the foresight nor strength to guide Portland towards good development for the future.

Brian Libby

David,

This building does not represent a lot of debt. It's been proven it can turn a profit even when in terrible disrepair, such as now.

This building does indeed represent a uniquely significant historical status. It's one of the only true International Style buildings in Portland, along with Pietro Belluschi's Equitable Building.

Don't take my word for it on this. Ask somebody like Joachim Grube, FAIA, who worked on the original project and in the ensuing 50 years has done enough good work to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Root Awards for design last year. Grube has said the same thing about the Colisum and the International Style.

The site is not ideal for installation of a baseball stadium. Another stadium is the LAST thing that site needs. Big single use facilities without supporting housing and entertainment are already the problem. Another stadium would only exacerbate the problem.

Don't take my word for it on this, either. Ask the Portland Trail Blazers, who manage the Rose Quarter and explicitly have expressed opposition to the stadium idea.

City leaders may or may not have foresight. But shoe-horning a minor league baseball stadium onto this site is not an expression of that foresight.

Eric Cantona

David R. Brown III AIA/CSI - since you've seen fit to notify us that you have credentials, could you please enlighten us as to how, precisely, you plan on fitting a "major baseball stadium" on this site? i assume that your use of the word major denotes a stadium suitable for major league baseball. i find this interesting because, from my point of view, any site not able to upgrade from AAA to MLB is foolishly shortsighted, and this site is apparently too small for anything other than a AAA park.

or do you know something we don't?

Greg

Brian,

-Why do you think the Blazers are opposed to a ballpark at the MC site? Do you honestly in your heart of hearts think that it is because they want the city to spend money upgrading the MC so that it can compete directly with their privately financed Rose Garden Arena? Of course not. This is all about a cash grab for every penny of URD money so they can pour it into their proposed entertainment district.

And of course, as many other cities in similar circumstances (Charlotte/Columbus/Buffalo/OKC/Memphis/Indianapolis) have figured out, a summertime stadium is EXACTLY what the site needs to pair with an indoor facility.

Greg

And why do you keep repeating the line that the MC is profitable? I know, you are simply repeating a quote from David Logsdon in a recent article (they were singing a completely different tune before their boss changed his tune, but I digress).

Just because they generated a little cash from operations does not mean that it is profitable in a broader context. Clearly it is not when you factor in reallocated parking revenues and continued neglect of maintenance and capital improvements. The city's own financial statements put in this very disclaimer when talking about the MC and they estimated years ago that a backlog of up to $20 million in repairs is not reflected in the numbers.

I've said this to you before and you have said nothing to counter it other than "it's not just about finances". Well, if it's not then why do you keep repeating this misleading statement?

Greg

Steve,

I would hope that a city the size of Los Angeles could support two stadiums like Staples Center and the old Forum. But Denver (20% larger than Portland, and with no larger city like Seattle nearby) couldn't, Philadelphia (twice the size of PDX) couldn't, Detroit (twice the size of Portland) apparently isn't despite subsidies from the city and infusion they get from the auto show... and plus we've had at least two other private entertainment venues in dire financial straits in recent years (Rose Garden and Clark County Fairground)... so again, why should we prop up the MC to compete with those facilities when the demographics clearly indicate that the MC would be massively underutilized in its present form over at least the next 50 years?

Eric,

The Twins fit a 40,000 seat stadium on eight acres. The original design (which was unaltered from Lents) had the AAA stadium on twelve acres. It can be done.

Avarela

Brian,

Have you yourself ever been to one of these 10,000 to 12,000 events in the last ten years? Concerts? Hockey games? The curtains are drawn, eliminating views and the acoustics are terrible. Actually using the building, you do not get any sense of the "bowl in a box". Seeing how this is your only argument for keeping it, it doesn't seem a strong one. The MC has served its purpose, and that purpose in needed no longer.

Brian Libby

Avarela,

I'm not saying that the Coliseum should remain as is. It definitely needs a renovation. I agree it's unfortunate that the curtains are almost always drawn and the acoustics need improvement. My argument is that the Coliseum needs to be restored to what made it a great space in the first place. It needs some TLC.

John

I think it's interesting that the architecture community in Portland cannot see that the most sustainable thing to do would be to tear down the Coliseum and put a baseball stadium/concert venue in its place. PGE Park and the new baseball park would both be in the cental city and served by mass transit. The new baseball stadium would further the goal of turning the Rose Quarter into a true multi-use neighborhood. The argument that we have to keep the Coliseum at the expense of doing something really great is actually a stifling one that is the antithesis of creativity.

And while I acknowledge the pedigree of the Coliseum, I think most casual observers would judge it as just another boring, ugly building that looks like it belongs in a suburban office park.

Trevor

I agree with John. if people are trying to keep Portland sustainable, wouldn't it make more since to get rid of an old building and replace it with something more useful? Portland State is currently planning to renovate Stott Center into a more suitable arena for their up and coming basketball programs, so i really see no use for the memorial coliseum.

ws

One of the problems with removing the MC from its site for something 'really great', is that nothing really great has yet been proposed. In the case of the AAA baseball stadium idea, backers want to tear down a functional covered building that has more seating capacity than the open roof stadium they seek to replace it with. Tear down and have to haul away a huge amount of material and debris only to rebuild a structure having even less function than the existing building...the MC. I don't see how that makes good sense.

ValB

Estimated embodied energy in the Memorial Coliseum: 375,696,720 mbtu - based upon calculator at thegreenestbuilding.org.
That translates into the amount of energy in 3,266,928 gallons of gasoline!

The energy wasted through demolition combined with the amount of energy it would take to build something new, means that it would be unlikely a replacement building could ever offset that amount of energy expenditure.

Whether one personally likes the Coliseum or not, is not and should not, be the issue here. It is clear that keeping the Coliseum is the sustainable solution. It is also clear that the Coliseum has historic and architectural significance to the city as a whole as the (likely) listing in the National Register of Historic Places justifies.

I read something the other day that caught my attention. I would simply ask that those who think that a replacement for the Coliseum is the best answer to the Rose Quarter problems give it consideration.

"Here in our country, there is very little that we value enough not to throw away. This value system extends from our consumer goods to our families to our very livelihoods. When you think about it, our current economic crisis is in part caused by our willingness to throw any and everything away. We have outsourced the manufacturing of all kinds of goods, as well as the creation of innovative new technologies. We have convinced ourselves that only “new, better, improved” are the labels that will lead us to a healthier, more energy efficient future. We have also convinced ourselves that getting it cheaper is more important than having vibrant economic communities based on self sufficiency and sound conservation principles." Written by Nancy Finegood of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network

Appropriately renovating the Coliseum will preserve local architectural history and an enormous amount of energy. Not only would such an effort use less energy and materials it is also well documented that renovation/rehabilitation work is more labor intensive than building new, which means more local jobs. Now that's the sustainable solution!


Eric Cantona

ValB - very well said. thanks for putting numbers to what i have been assuming on this blog and others.

blazer loyalist

Sales tax is the dumbest thing ive ever heard of.
Blazers are opposed to anything that makes sense. suite 200 is drowning in their own idiocracy.
They have plans to put condos and a home depot where the coliseum is, and im not joking.
Leave this out of j.e. issac's hands (the president bus. development of the blazers), and it may just go ok.

Brian Libby

Blazer loyalist,

I really appreciate that you're, well...a Blazer loyalist.

Regarding Blazers management and JE Isaac, in my few dealings with them, I've found Isaac, president Larry Miller and company to be good people. It's true that if Memorial Coliseum were to be filled with a Home Depot or a bunch of chain restaurants and bars, that would be very bad. But the Blazers have been insistent that they want to do something better. I've heard talk of a possible Oregon sports museum in the coliseum, for example. My choice would be for the entire seating bowl to be retained and any programming to happen underneath or around Memorial Coliseum, but the Blazers do understand the value of the arena architecturally and the need to have businesses locating there be mostly local.

Jim Wazlaw

PGE Park can accommodate both MSL soccer and AAA baseball. I agree that movable seating is the way to go. Building a single sport stadium at this time, given the economic climate, is unconscionable. We should not be expecting any local municipality or county to foot the bill through any type of financial instruments.

Given the cost of a new stadium, it makes sense, instead, to spend a little more on the PGE Park renovation and include a movable seating scheme. As a community, we will have done the responsible thing - embracing the multi use concept as well as more sound financial planning.

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