Proposed minor league stadium for Triple-A Portland Beavers
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It’s not everyday that a baseball team can thank a soccer club for a new stadium, but that seems a very likely case after Portland was awarded a Major League Soccer expansion franchise on Friday. As part of the agreement, Portland’s PGE Park will be converted into a soccer-only facility. To make way for the renovations, the Triple-A Beavers will be forced to leave.
To deal with this situation, Beavers and now MLS Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, along with the city have proposed building a 7,500-9,000 minor league park on the banks of the Willamette River, just next to the Rose Garden Arena where the NBA Trial Blazers play. To make room for the stadium, the current Memorial Coliseum that was built in late 1960. Funding for the new stadium, targeted at $55.095 million using tax-increment financing through an existing urban renewal district, part of a $12 million investment by Paulson and his family, and $31 million in Spectator Facilities Fund Bonds in the total package to renovate PGE Park, and the new minor league stadium (for more see, Soccer City, USA Goes Major League).
There is currently a $15 million funding gap for the $88.785 million project that includes the two facilities, but with the conditional award of the MLS franchise set to play in 2011, odds increase dramatically that the funds will be found.
With the shortfall, Portland has ostensibly been awarded the new expansion MLS franchise on condition that all the funding is reached.
Asked what would happen if the funding is not fully met, MLS Commissioner Don Garber set the stage for Paulson and other soccer and baseball boosters to get the funding passed through leveraging of the MLS award.
"Then we won't be able to have an MLS team in Portland," he said.
Mayor Sam Adams believes that the city will arrive at the final dollar figues.
“We have to address the funding gap, but I feel very confident that we’ll meet the funding requirements,” Adams said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we could.”
Asked if the Paulsons will be asked to add more capital to the project to meet the gap, the mayor placed the issue squarely in the city’s hands.
“No,” Adams said. “Merritt and his family have been excellent private partners in this endeavor and I don’t see them adding more.”
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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