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Fred Leeson

Keeping the MC as a vibrant, viable multi-purpose arena is STILL its highest and best use. The city made a mistake years ago in assigning its management to the Blazers....the Blazers have NO interest in seeing it be a successful arena. It should be home to all PSU indoor sports and to PIL basketball double/triple headers, as well as home to the hockey team. It has great transit access. An aggressive manager could make it successful. My renovation idea: turn both ends of the top of the bowl (the "endzone" seats for basketball) into food/beer gardens. Have a brew and watch the game!


I'm still confused. What is the status of the project? Did someone make a decision to restore the building? Is there room for a developer to fly in and make it a water park?
I think that the building should be kept as is and used for events. It has been shown that this is an architectural landmark for Portland, love it or hate it.
Improve the land around it, get good events, people will come.


First of all, you should know that I'd stopped reading this blog quite a while ago due to getting quite tired of the non-stop soapbox sermons about the Coliseum and only today checked back to see if you'd moved on. Too bad.

But since you're still fixated, I have to say that your current post made me laugh at your bias on the issue-- can you imagine what you would be writing and doing if the City had even taken the time to consider (let alone implement) one of the non-Blazer, non-status quo proposals? You'd be relentlessly blogging against the decision and trying to get time in the local media to voice your objections. Since the 'pure preservation' route was selected, you want everyone else to move on, even though, from all appearances, nothing positive is yet happening. There haven't yet been new signs installed at the I-5 and I-84 off-ramps marking the way to Jumptown, and the cranes aren't exactly swinging.

I also take umbrage with your cloaking your vantage point on the issue with terms that make it seem like the status quo is the best for everyone-- highlighting 'sustainability' and 'Veteran's'-- we could do a lot more for veterans than put the word on the front of an empty coliseum. If this facility had been given an adaptive reuse such as the sports and recreation plan, veterans could have been recognized with free membership, training, physical therapy, etc. And to say that it's the most sustainable option to continue to heat and cool this 1950s glass box when there's an arguably superior facility next door (function, systems, and capacity- not aesthetics) seems a little weak. Maybe you could tag on 'Cesar Chavez's name to make sure you've totally stacked the deck.

As long as the control of this facility is in the hands of the Blazers, things will stay as they are. After neglecting this building for so long, it's ridiculous to think that suddenly there going to realize what a gem they have and start treating it with TLC. If the City is planning on paying for renovations while leaving the Blazers in control, that's a total sucker move and a waste of resources that will make the 'Friends of the MC' feel good but not have a bigger effect on the people of Portland, which is something that architecture, particularly civic-supported architecture, should aspire to.

I really like this building, so don't think that I'm a 'hater'--- but historic preservation of this type makes little sense to me. Adaptive reuse, particularly one with a higher civic function, makes much more sense. Without that, this building becomes like the old original-style McDonalds up on Powell, near 205-- a cool relic and design icon from a different era. It's younger sibling, uglier but more effective, sits right across the parking lot churning cash for the owner while the relic sits with the lights out.

Brian Libby


I appreciate your comments even though we disagree.

It's true that I used a lot of bandwidth over the past two years advocating the Coliseum be saved, and I'm sorry to you and readers in general if it got tiresome.

However, I think we have a misunderstanding here.

I'm not, nor have I ever been, arguing for "Jumptown", the Blazers' proposal. I've simply argued against destroying a historic building when there are parking garages exponentially more suitable for development.

I would have been against the idea of a minor league baseball stadium on the site even if it didn't destroy the Coliseum.

What's more, I can understand the public sense that nothing seems to be happening. It's taking the mayor's office and PDC a long time to get the wheels in motion. In my opinion, we should have already had a Coliseum renovation under construction.

I also respect your notion that the Coliseum should not be subject to a "pure" historic renovation at the expense of common sense. It should definitely not be a relic. Yet part of the reason I've argued for the status quo is becuase the business model for it remaining a multi-purpose arena is sound.

Let me also address your suggestion that defending the building as a veterans' memorial doesn't make sense. Please understand definitively that the building itself is the memorial, not just the plaques outside. I can show you the evidence in the city archives. I can introduce you to Oregon's veteran leadership, who agree wholeheartedly.

You seem to think the Blazers are running this ship, and I'm somehow an apologist for them. Not so. The city has taken over the process from the Blazers. A master planner has been hired (Mike McCulloch) who ran the city's Design Commission for several years. The city may be slow moving, but they are in charge here, not the Blazers. This isn't about acquiescing or kowtowing to some bland, corporate vision they have for the Rose Quarter site.

I'm glad to hear that you like the building. And I want to do my best here not to simply argue with you. But my sense is that the arguments you are making, whether about the Blazers or about pure preservation at the expense of viable economic and civic progress, are questions that have been addressed by the city.

Brian Libby


Apps 55753818692 1023369798 03db21d1f817b514c1dfdd6d72943ed1

Tim. I'm glad you like the building too, but if you like the building, then I don't get why you want to suggest ruining what makes the building great in the first place. It seems you need to move on and get with where we are. The MARC is dead and will stay dead because it is was at odds with the historic character of the building. Fortunately, National Park Service and SHPO realized and agreed that the bowl and other key parts of the Coliseum were key to its success as a historic structure. Many City leaders agreed with this as well.
The reason nothing is happening is because of leadership issues - task force-itis. A responsible rejuvenation in a realistic budget, coupled with 30% housing set aside and partnering with the Winterhawks and others, is the way to get this project moving and create jobs now. The Blazers issue can be reworked into a new deal that works better for the community and building, so we don't get all this deferred maintenance piled up on us again. The building is already used a lot, and a refurbished building will be used even more - pushing it well into the black. Memorial Coliseum is protected and will stay protected until a plan that respects the historic character of the Coliseum and rejuvenates it into a mid-century nationally recognized masterpiece comes forward. It's not that complicated.
So, I'm glad Brian has not moved on, because it will take on-going effort to preserve this masterpiece from people who continue to want to wreck it, as your post confirms.


The other proposals, from what I could see, were never really considered- the notion that an adaptive reuse would necessarily destroy the building seems like a baseless assumption, since there was never any 'due diligence' effort to look at finding ways to reuse the building without removing or destroying the bowl or the exterior. I fully believe that it's possible, having been in the building many times, and to think that all of the design talent in this city couldn't have devised a solution to this is not exactly the greatest compliment to our local architectural community.

My point earlier was not really that you were somehow acting as a mouthpiece for the Blazers, Brian, but rather that nothing other than the status quo was thoroughly considered because nothing else really had a chance. With the Blazers contractually able to veto any prospective uses that they didn't like or consider contrary to the best interests of the team and the Rose Garden, there really wasn't another plan that could be implemented.  Given that, the 'idea generation' phase seems like nothing more than window dressing.

It's a shame that you weren't blogging and organizing during the planning and design of the Rose Garden, since that seems like it would have been the ideal time to discuss the merits and meaning of the MC, before the new facility cast a pretty deep shadow of obsolescence on what's really a well-designed and unique facility.

I hope I'm wrong, and that one day soon I'll be sitting in a renovated glorious glass palace eating crow and enjoying an $8 beer while watching something other than a tractor pull or a Styx concert. I also hope that Brian's new seat at the mayor's table will help him ensure that this City-run 'preservation' effort doesn't result in any rooftop neon roses...

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