Why progressives should support the MLS to PDX proposal

By Jeremy Wright of Portland, Oregon. Jeremy is a writer and public affairs consultant who lives in North Portland. An avid politico and soccer fan, Jeremy ran the 1998 Vote by Mail initiative and worked Secretary of State Bill Bradbury’s 2000 and 2002 campaigns - as well as working on a number of conservation issues over the years.

MLSImagine if a renewable energy company was looking to relocate to Portland and invest $40-$60 million in private capital here that would create around 600 construction projects starting later this year and lasting for 15 months and create 300 jobs of which 200 would be full time. The excitement would be palatable right? Imagine if that same company was looking for help in the form of taxpayer backed bonds to build out their facilities and these bonds would be paid back over 30 years and guaranteed by the personal wealth of the business owners, regardless of performance. I am sure the majority of you would agree that in these tough economic times this would be a deal worth making.
Now replace the term “renewable energy company” with “Major League Soccer Franchise.” What has changed other than the product you are selling? I would argue very little.

Yet too often throughout this debate, hysteria and hyperbole have replaced rational thought. The argument against this proposal has typically gone like this:

“We have the highest unemployment in 10 years, a $3 billion shortfall in state budget, schools are underfunded and you want to invest $85 million in taxpayer backed bonds to remodel PGE park into a world class soccer stadium and build a separate baseball stadium for the Beavers?”

The answer is an unequivocal yes.

In fact, it is exactly these conditions that make it critical that we move forward with this project. Now, more than ever, we need to invest in people and publicly-owned infrastructure (remember: PGE Park is owned by the City of Portland) to get this economy moving again. And this proposal would help do just that.


The proposal would use $39 million in taxpayer backed bonds to upgrade taxpayer owned PGE Park to a world-class facility. The proposal would also build a boutique 9,000 seat Triple AAA baseball stadium at either the existing Memorial Coliseum site or Lents Park for approximately $45 million that would be paid for through a yet-to-be-determined combination of Urban Renewal funds, bonds on the Spectator Facilities Fund and private investment.

These bonds would be paid off through a combination of ticket surcharges, lease agreements and player salary tax over 30 years. No existing city of Portland programs would be impacted financially, and independent fiscal analysis shows that an updated stadium would generate significantly more revenue for the city.

In remodeling PGE Park and building a new Triple AAA ballpark, the city is investing publicly backed dollars into a publicly owned facility.

Isn’t that exactly what Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package was all about? Getting people back to work through investment in public infrastructure?

There also exists a strong grassroots movement for this proposal. This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a rally at City Hall with over 300 Portlanders of all ages, ethnicities and political persuasions who were united in sendinga common message to our City Council: bring Major League Soccer to Portland. It was inspiring to see so many people united as a community looking to the future despite these uncertain times.

But don’t just take my word for it that this would be good for our city. Last November, an 18 member citizen Task Force was appointed to review the proposal from the Portland Timbers and Beavers owner Merritt Paulson. This Task Force was charged with carefully reviewing all aspects of the proposal and to make a recommendation to City Council by early March.

After months of weekly meetings, independent financial analysis and public testimony the Task Force carefully weighed all aspects of the proposal and voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend the Portland City Council move forward. They wrote:

“The Task Force recommends that the City Council support a proposal by Shortstop LLC (Merritt Paulson’s Company) to bring Major League Soccer to Portland, with the City refurbishing PGE Park and developing an alternative site for AAA Baseball.”

The Task Force also went a step further and outlined a series of conditions that protect the City and taxpayers while ensuring that Portland can land a Major League Soccer team. Key among the conditions were:

  1. There will be no risk to the basic services provided by the city's general fund.
  2. The general fund should not be exposed to risk associated with the City's sale of bonds to support the project.
  3. The Paulson family shall guarantee the bonds with their personal wealth (Merritt Paulson has already agreed to this provision.
  4. The City will be protected from project cost overruns.
  5. Portland should not lose the baseball team to get the MLS franchise.
  6. Public park space should not be diminished.

This is a project that is a win-win-win for everyone involved. It brings a Major League Soccer team to a city that is already known for its passionate support for the sport, creates more than 600 badly needed jobs this year in dire economic times, and protects taxpayer resources and the general fund.

Now is the time for City Council to vote yes to MLS.

Comments

  • conspiracyzach (unverified)
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    More sportspork ? Unreal. Economic development steroids undermine our society. www.youtube.com/luddite333

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    I couldn't agree with you more.

    Stand Up for the Rose City!

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    Owners of pro sports teams are usually VERY successful business people. There is a reason why they own the TEAMS but convince the CITY to own the facilities.....only ONE makes money.

    Can you figure out which one?

  • bradley (unverified)
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    I love sportspork, it's the other white meat. It's about time Portland brought in a Major League Soccer Team. Viva La Timbers!!!

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Jeremy Wright:

    The Paulson family shall guarantee the bonds with their personal wealth (Merritt Paulson has already agreed to this provision.

    Bob T:

    Thier personal wealth should be used to pay for all of this to begin with. Not that there's anything wrong with them in the first place -- I just don't want them to use the tool and force of government to get taxpayer dollars or other privileged legislation.

    But anyway, thanks for revealing the progressive (so called) support for this kind of scat.

    Bob Tiernan Mult Co.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    ”The proposal would use $39 million in taxpayer backed bonds to upgrade taxpayer owned PGE Park to a world-class facility.”

    PGE Park went through an extensive upgrade just a few years ago. Now we’re supposed to pour more money into it in order to get a franchise for a sport that has never generated anything more than a passing interest in America at a time when the economy in Oregon is tanking?

    It’s irresponsible for Mr. Wright to even suggest a scheme like this.

  • Andrew (unverified)
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    Great article, MLS makes sense in Portland. MLS will help the city by providing jobs and bringing in fans from outside the city. More people coming to games=more money spent in the city.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    mp97303:

    Owners of pro sports teams are usually VERY successful business people. There is a reason why they own the TEAMS but convince the CITY to own the facilities.....only ONE makes money.

    Can you figure out which one?

    Bob T:

    Kind of misleading. Huge stadiums are difficult to keep in the black. This means that, had government never gotten into the sports stadium or arena-building business in the first place, we'd see loads of lower-cost, smaller places. Not the 90-seat monsters. For indoor arena, we'd see hangar-like structures with cheaper bleacher seats all around. It would have found its own market level. But government skewed this market as usual.

    Bob Tiernan Mult Co.

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    Bob,

    Did you miss the part about how the City of Portland owns PGE Park and rents it to the Portland Timbers and Beavers as well as PSU Football and high school football?

    So what you are saying is that the city of Portland should sell PGE Park to Paulson? Or should they sell part of it to him in return for fixing up the stadium?

    Guess what? Portland has no interest in selling the stadium and in my opinion that is a very good thing. We have a crown jewel of a stadium in it's model of sustainability (65% of people attending matches today use public transit) with no parking to speak of.

    So we have to figure out how to continue to invest in a publicly owned infrastructure in order to continue to get a return. Upgrading the park would double the rent Paulson pays, as well as attract international exhibitions and World Cup Qualifiers as well as allow PSU Football to go to Division 1A should they ever choose.

    win-win-win.

  • Bruce (unverified)
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    mp97303 - Only one makes money? Not true. They both generate revenue. I would agree that the team probably creates revenue at a greater rate, but that doesn't make it a bad deal for the city. Paulson would be investing at least $40 million of his own money to buy the team. He's got the greatest risk and is backing the bonds. Most value in Sports Franchises is in resale value decades down the line, not in yearly profits.

    Paulson has also used very conservative attendance figures in the bonding predictions approved by the task force. MLS in Portland has a great chance to sell out an upgraded PGE Park. Sellouts would be 7K more tickets each match than the predictions. That's a huge surplus into the spectator fund.

    There is big upside here. Big.

  • TimC (unverified)
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    Bob T: why should the Paulsons pay to make major Capitol improvements to a facility that they rent from the City of Portland? Do you rent a house and then replace all the cabinets, the roof and maybe add an addition on the back? I know I don't.

    If they (The Paulsons) were to build their own stadium then they would move out of PGE park in 2010 then the lease runs out and then the city would be stuck paying off the bonds from the previous renovation (that are being paid back now by ticket taxes and the good faith payments that Paulson is making on debt that someone else ran up). That doesn't sound that good either.

    It is the City's responsibility to make the major upgrades to the city's property. Not the responsibility of the people that use that facility.

  • bradley (unverified)
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    Bob, The bonds are for upgrading property (PGE Park) that BELONGS to the city so it is entirely appropriate that bonds be used in this way. Man I am as progressive as the next guy but I loves me some soccer and I am sick and tired of Portland being a crap sports town. You can be liberal/progressive and support your city investing in it's own infrastructure in this manner. This will do loads for increasing interest in Portland and attracting visiting fans. Is it a better idea to stand pat and be known for the Forest Dragons and Lumberjacks forever? Sigh

  • GLV (unverified)
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    ”The proposal would use $39 million in taxpayer backed bonds to upgrade taxpayer owned PGE Park to a world-class facility.”

    Hogwash. Wembley Stadium...that's world class. PGE Park will never be anything remotely resembling "world class."

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    You say: "These bonds would be paid off through a combination of ticket surcharges, lease agreements and player salary tax over 30 years. No existing city of Portland programs would be impacted financially, and independent fiscal analysis shows that an updated stadium would generate significantly more revenue for the city."

    WHy You're Wrong: While it could be true no City of Portland programs would be impacted, plenty of Multnomah County Programs, Portland Public School programs and Special District programs would be negatively impacted by the use of urban renewal dollars here. Urban Renewal Areas freeze the property taxes flowing to the County and Schools and use the growth in property taxes to pay back the bonds. The County, Schools and Others would have their revenues frozen in place with no increases for inflation for twenty years or more to pay for this stadium.

    Multnomah County is facing a $45 million dollar deficit this year. Do you think we can afford to lose any more? For a privately funded project, no less? What programs would you cut to pay for this to make it worth it? Drug and alcohol treatment? Kid's Health Clinics? Jail Beds? Mental Health Treatment? Homeless Services? Just curious.

  • bradley (unverified)
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    Buckmanres,

    Please do some quick research on NHL, NBA and MLS attendance trends and then decide if you want to stick to your comment about soccer never being more than a passing fancy. You may be very surprised by what you find. This gets more interesting when you factor in that we are talking about Soccer City USA. This will be huge here!

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    (1) There is a difference between investing in soccer facilities and investing in a renewable energy company. Renewable energy has been targeted in Oregon’s vision of its economic future. We’re not trying to attract just one company but a cluster of companies. We’re competing to become one of the global knowledge and innovation centers in this new industry. Soccer has none of this larger economic vision. It’s just a one shot deal.

    (2) Given past deals gone bad, the public should be suspicious about claims that the bonds will be “guaranteed by the personal wealth of the business owners, regardless of performance.” And does that personal wealth backing include the $45 million for the new AAA baseball stadium? Are the Paulsons going to put their funds in some trust account or what?

  • Frank (unverified)
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    I'm a huge futbol fan. I get up at 7 AM on the weekends to watch English Premier League matches on one of the 3 digit channels way, way up the digital dial. I so biased towards bringing an MLS team here to town that I probably shouldn't comment.

    That said, there's some important points that haven't been mentioned for even people who hate sports to consider, I'm going to point them out.

    -There's no way Portland is going to stay just a one major league sports franchise town for very long. Portland is the largest city in the US with just one major league franchise. The various pro sports leagues are looking at Blazers current 50+ game sellout streak right now and openly drooling. Forget suggesting the Blazers are enough pro sports for Portland. Another pro sports franchise is coming to Portland.

    With it being a given another pro sports franchise is coming to Portland, which addition is least likely to be a mistake. MLS. There's already an established fan base. MLS ongoing franchise costs are a fraction of the costs of either MLB or the NFL. The MLS schedule fits nicely along side the Blazers schedule. Not a huge amount of overlap between the two league seasons.

    -Pro baseball would fail in Portland. After you spend $100-200 MIL on the stadium, the best Portland could hope for would be to us to be another Kansas City or Pittsburgh buried in the basement season after season because that's what happens to small market teams in a sport that has no salary cap.

    -NFL? You think refitting PGE park for soccer is expensive, build a NFL football stadium. Cowboys' new stadium is going to cost ONE BILLION before they're through.

    -NHL? The whole league is dying a slow death on... Frack... what's the name of the network the NHL is on again? I just thought of that as the Lance Armstrong channel...

    If you hate sports, support this plan that brings MLS to Portland. You'll have a much better case to defeat future proposals to bring pro sports leagues that really cost big money in the future.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    COrrect me if I am wrong, but the LAST PGE Stadium upgrade was done in anticipation of a MLB franchise. That didn't happen.

    I love soccer and would like nothing better to see a revival of the Vancouver Canucks, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers rivalry like in the old NASL days. Of course it wasn't sustainable then and most likely isn't now. MLS is still a crap shoot as a viable sports league in the US.

    Look, Seattle just moved up to MLS level and will have trouble competing in a mediocre league when compared to La Liga, The Premier League, Budesleague, etc, etc,etc. The so-called marquee player, David Beckham is currently on loan to AC Milan and has no intention of returning to LA Galaxy. He wants (and needs) world level play to get fit enough to play for England again in the next World Cup campaign.

    There are more than enough good turf fields (FC out at Liberty) in the Portland metroplex that would support a fledgling first division team without comitting public bonds to a renovation of PGE Park.

    Until or unless players like Beckham, Kaka, Ronaldinho Van NisilRoy, Howard, Ronaldo, Rooney, Berbatov, Mesi, Henri and others seek out MLS as a first choice rather than a late career swan song, there is no reason to pour public dollars into stadiums for exclusive use by soccer.

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    Marissa,

    While I certainly can sympathize with any reductions in basic services it would appear that you would be arguing against the creation of any one URD.

    The use of URD has been key to Portland's growth and will continue to be. They are successful because the growth spurred and resultant income taxes, property taxes etc. typically significantly offset the freeze in property taxes. Additionally, there are a couple of things you are not considering:

    1) What property taxes are currently flowing from city owned PGE Park to Multnomah County?

    2)How would the resultant increase in jobs at the park and development around the park affect the state and county's coffers in terms of income taxes, business taxes etc?

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    Kurt,

    I wouls respectfully request that you please do some research on the league and it's progress before commenting.

    Of course it is not the EPL. But we don't have to be the EPL to be successful. Portland is not NYC but we do alright yeah?

    MLS averaged more fans last year than the NBA. Would you consider the NBA a dying league?

    Seattle has pre-sold over 20,000 SEASON tickets in anticipation of it's opening MLS season this month. 20,000. We would easily beat that here in Portland as we have a far greater soccer culture down here (Portland Timbers average 8,500 a game at PGE in the USL 1st Division)

    As for PGE Park - it was never intended for MLB. 20,000 seats is not MLB size. It is however MLS size.

    The vast majority of work down in 1999 was seismic upgrades and concourse refubishment.

  • Frank (unverified)
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    Kurt Chapman: "I love soccer and would like nothing better to see a revival of the Vancouver Canucks, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers rivalry like in the old NASL days. Of course it wasn't sustainable then and most likely isn't now."

    Apparently, you haven't even glanced at financial structure of pro soccer in the US since the days of the old NASL either.

    Totally different financial structure in the MLS. It's been intentionally built not to bring in stars from Europe and South America, but to build up the skills of US/Canadian players. The Portland Timbers already average enough ticket sales right now to make the Timbers a financial success in MLS.

    Oh, and forget Beckham. That was one franchise owner making a big screw-up going against the league plan.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    It's nice to see that "progressive" buzz words can be so easily co-opted to support corporate welfare for Henry Merritt Paulson III (hereinafter "Young Master Paulson"), the son of the former Chairman of Goldman Sachs and Treasury Secretary, Henry Merritt Paulson II (hereinafter "Hank 'Bailout' Paulson") whose net worth was estimated to be north of $700 million.

    Let's look at the supposed income source to pay off the debt: the MLS.

    The MLS has lost $350 million since it was founded, and in 2008 only three of its franchises made a profit, all of which were in significantly larger markets than Portland (LA, Dallas, Toronto). ESPN pays the MLS a paltry $8 million per year for its TV contract, and ratings for MLS games on ESPN are in the 0.2 to 0.3 range (200,000-280,000 households watching nation wide). These are C-SPAN2 Book TV type ratings.

    The NASL collapsed in the early 1980's economic downturn, and lifetime of these bonds is 30 years. So, what happens if Portland's soccer franchise doesn't happen to last the 30 year term of the bonds issued to finance this project? Who will be left with the bill? Young Master Paulson, or the people or Portland?

    PGE park was renovated less than 10 years ago, and the city is still in substantial debt for that renovation. Also, "urban renewal funds" are not magical money that falls from the sky. Those funds come from exempting certain properties from property taxation. That means there is a direct trade off with other municipal government spending priorities that would otherwise rely on those property tax dollars.

    If the Hank "Bailout" Paulson is really were willing to guarantee the bonds with his substantial wealth, then Young Master Paulson wouldn't be coming to the city of Portland to get the financing in the first place. If the Paulson's want financing, I'm pretty sure there might be someone in that family who knows how to go about getting private debt financing...

    But hey, socializing risk and privatizing profits is the hip new "progressive" way!

  • Frank (unverified)
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    ”The proposal would use $39 million in taxpayer backed bonds to upgrade taxpayer owned PGE Park to a world-class facility.”

    GLV: Hogwash. Wembley Stadium...that's world class. PGE Park will never be anything remotely resembling "world class."

    Fail.

    Portsmouth F.C. is not just a one of the clubs in the English Premier League, they won the English FA Cup. Portsmouth play at Fratton Park, which seats 20,688.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Frank, I respectfully disagree. The MLS is no more financially sustainable than the NASL of 25 years ago. They can talk all they want about bringing up North american players, but the best players, and best teams in the world are everywhere BUT North America. Donovan who many point to as a US "star" was at best a becnh player on his European team. He came back home and has never reached his potential as a result.

    Again, I love soccer and hope it is successful here, but public financing for stadiums won't make it happen. When even the best US players go overseas to play and earn a living that should tell you something. The only franchises to make some money do so because of the largess of World Class Teams coming over here to play exhibition matches. Man U, Chelsea, Inter, Juventas and AC Milan all outclass our season fit teams when they are coming off of a 2 month break.

    And Beckham is not a single team mistake. The entire league backed up Galaxy in that huge contract.

  • Pedro (unverified)
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    The only way I would support this proposal to fund the Timbers and a possible MLS franchise is if the citizens of Portland actually owned the team(s).

    I see no advantage to financing Hank Paulson's son and daughter in law with gimmicks like TIF bonds and some of the other tricks that were explained on the excellent "Think Outloud" program that aired yesterday on Oregon Public Radio.

    If an urban renewal district is warranted in the Goose Hollow neighborhood then by all means establish one and improve the neighborhood, all of it. This proposal does nothing for Goose Hollow except rebuild the recently rebuilt stadium and kick the Bevos out to Lents.

    I would like to ask those who support this proposal to tell us exactly how many of those taxpayer dollars will be used to build "luxury suites" for our very un-progressive elephant neighbors, you know the ones that own the companies in Oregon who pay exactly $10.00 in state of oregon income tax.

    My apologies to all my futbol fan buddies.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Frank,

    You're living in a dream universe if you think it appropriate to compare an Enligh Premier League team (the most successful football association on the planet in the country that invented the sport) and a hypothetical Portland MLS team (the fifth most popular professional league in the US). MLS takes in $8 million for its TV contract; EPL takes in £1.8 billion.

  • icefunk (unverified)
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    THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN NOW!! THIS WOULD ONLY HELP THE LOCAL ECONOMY!!!

    RISE UP FOR THE ROSE CITY!

    MLS 2 PDX NOW!!!

  • Jim (unverified)
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    This seems very simple: if you want major league soccer here in Portland, ask the would-be owners of the MLS team to pony up the dough, not me. You wrote:

    Now, more than ever, we need to invest in people and publicly-owned infrastructure (remember: PGE Park is owned by the City of Portland) to get this economy moving again.

    Yes, so lets get going on better schools and fixing the bridges to get this economy moving again.

    And as far as all the jobs created, even if you count all the ways the stadium is rented out (I won't bother with construction--a study was done regarding New Comiskey Park in Chicago that showed the construction thing was hogwash, that in the end people ended up paying more than the putative benefits from the construction), those are hardly good jobs; a few hours a day for the days there are games.

    You want a major league city? Get rid of houselessness and poverty, and improve education. Building stadiums for millionaires and their toys is just another way to redistribute wealth upward.

    Me, I'd rather play soccer.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Thanks icefunk. Your ALLCAPS Timbers Army chanting is really enriching the discussion.

    Though stepping back for a moment, it's amusing how plutocrats and wannabe hooligans have become political bedfellows in support of this boondoggle.

  • Frank (unverified)
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    Mr. so-called "Anon"

    -You're awful quick off the top of you head with those talking points. Almost like you had a lot of practice using them. Like maybe when you were promoting moving a Major League Baseball franchise to Portland.

    -PGE Park ALREADY IS a world class futbol stadium. It's already been the site of World Cup matches. Ooooopss, forgot about that, huh?

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    Jeremy,

    How on earth does going from a minor league soccer team and a minor league baseball team to a major league soccer team and a minor league baseball team "create 300 jobs of which 200 would be full time?" I understand the construction jobs, but 300 new jobs? What on earth will these people do?

    How many people does the current Beavers/Timbers operation currently employ? Is an MLS team really going to employ 300 more people? Please explain this to me.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Frank,

    Thanks for complimenting my arguments; it's amazing what one can do with a critical mind and google.

    I'm glad you managed to find a covert pro-baseball agenda in my arguments rather than actually contesting the obvious fact that MLS has been a consistent money loser over the years. This is why Portland tax payers will be left holding the bag when soccer revenues don't cover the cost of debt payments for the fancy new soccer stadium.

    Paddy,

    Pro sports create lots of jobs, such as: peanut vendor, hot dog vendor, Timber's Army beer provider, ticket collector, and even a few soccer players.

    Fun fact: The 2008 median MLS salary was $61,000 (world class!).

    Query: Will the state income tax revenues from these players' salaries cover the debt payments?

  • Frank (unverified)
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    Kurt Chapman: "....The MLS is no more financially sustainable than the NASL of 25 years ago. They can talk all they want about bringing up North american players, but the best players, and best teams in the world are everywhere BUT North America. Donovan who many point to as a US "star" was at best a becnh player on his European team. He came back home and has never reached his potential as a result...."

    According to you the only place futbol is financially sustainable is that handful of pro futbol leagues where the world's best play.

    Oh really? Then explain why there are successful pro futbol leagues in Australia, and Japan, and Belgium, and Denmark, and Sweden, and Ukraine, and Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and Belgium, and Northern Ireland, and Poland, and Wales, and... how long do you want me to go on here.

    The whole frackin' planet is covered by pro futbol leagues that feature local players that leave for England, Spain, Italy or Germany the microsecond a scout from a team in a top league calls.

    All these various national leagues play matches every week, and have cup winners, and build up the skills for potential future players on national teams, and sell a whole lot of tickets while they are doing it, and don't have to make big money, because the players that aren't superstars don't demand superstar contracts.

    The Portland Timbers ALREADY SELL enough tickets right now to succeed at the MLS level.

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    Jeremy:

    Do you really sympathize with basic service reductions? Because if you did I think you would try to consider a few other things yourself.

    1) You seem to be suggesting that the new Urban Renewal District created to fund this would only include PGE Park and therefore not impact Mult.Co. tax revenues. I'd like to see you make the case that the recently renovated stadium is "blighted" and therefore in need of urban renewal. I suppose you could expand the district to make the case, but where would you go? The MAC Club? The Civic? NW 23rd?

    2) You said yourself that the player salary taxes would go to pay back the bonds. Do you have any actual numbers on the income taxes generated by other, non-player new jobs this soccer team would bring? I'd like to see those.

    I think urban renewal and tax increment financing is a great tool when used appropriately (to address urban blight) and the public understands and supports the trade-offs involved.

    But despite whatever good urban renewal has done, there is no escaping that it has forced Multnomah County to forgo about $20 million a year in property taxes. Business taxes account for less than 13 percent of the County's general fund. This year we'll get about $42 million in business taxes for the ENTIRE county. I can check, but I doubt that we get our $20 million back in business taxes from the 14 percent of the City of Portland that is currently in an urban renewal area.

    By the way, this:

    "They are successful because the growth spurred and resultant income taxes, property taxes etc. typically significantly offset the freeze in property taxes."

    is only true if the urban renewal areas are actually shut down and go back on the tax rolls after they've removed blight. Downtown Waterfront has been an urban renewal district since 1974. Central Eastside since 1986. And so on.

  • Frank (unverified)
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    Anon. MLB promoter: "rather than actually contesting the obvious fact that MLS has been a consistent money loser over the years. This is why Portland tax payers will be left holding the bag when soccer revenues don't cover the cost of debt payments for the fancy new soccer stadium."

    FAIL.

    I've told you this twice. Learn to read what is posted.

    The Portland Timbers have already proven they will be a success at the MLS level. Portland Timbers fans ALREADY bought enough tickets over multiple season to ensure the Timbers will be a success at the MLS level.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Ticket sales alone do not a financially successful sports league make.

    For better or worse, American sports viewers have not flocked to soccer on television in any great numbers (ESPN's MLS broadcasts hover at near undetectable ratings levels), and the sport remains a popular sport to play but not an especially popular one to watch. As such, the MLS makes next to nothing on its TV contract, which is where the NFL, MLB, NBA, and all of the major soccer leagues in countries where soccer is the most popular sport make the lion's share of their money.

    Portland voters are being asked to invest in a sports league that does not have a proven financial track record. If soccer revenues are not as rosy as the forecasts predict, the debt payments will fall on all Portland taxpayers, and it's unfair for all of us to share the (substantial) finacial risk of the Paulson's private business.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    NIMBYs EVERYWHERE!!! My god people chill out. We're talking about an $85 million loan over the course of 30 years or so. This isn't even a spackle on the city budget.

    All of you so called "progressives" that seem to think the sins of the father translate to the son seem pretty self righteous right now.

    I've been an active participator on Blue Oregon, in the city of Portland and in the local community. I have voted for tax increases on education, volunteered in schools and done anything I thought could help. If I thought for 2 seconds the stadium deal was bad for the city I'd be the first person at city hall protesting the idea. This is a solid, solid deal from a guy who is very genuine about investing in Portland.

    Can we really run another businessman out of town because we automatically think they're all trying to rip up off rather than accepting that maybe Merritt Paulson is a businessman who actually wants to give back to the community?

    I'm for this plan and it will get my endorsement to the commissioners. I hope it will get yours too. It's about time Portland grows up and starts thinking big and acting like other big cities.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Marissa Madrigal,

    Your points are well taken.

    The salary tax benefits would not be especially huge. Only four MLS players in 2008 had salaries over $1 million, and the median player salary was just over $61,000. The state income tax on one or two Portland Trailblazer players would likely add more to Oregon's coffers than an entire staff of any Portland MLS franchise.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    @Marissa Madrigal

    Who is going to pay the current stadium fees and PFE bonds if we run another potential renter out of town? You know Mr. Paulson is paying those right? He doesn't have to pay them you know that too right?

    Tell me who is going to pay all that if he leaves town?

  • Andrew (unverified)
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    @ anon you say "debt payments will fall on all Portland taxpayers"

    that is an outright lie. Merritt Paulson has backed these bonds with his families money. He will be the one on the hook in the unlikely case MLS fails.

    MLS is a great business model and is growing every year. We have a chance to get in now and we must take it.

  • YoungOregonMoonbat (unverified)
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    MLS is going to be a disaster in a couple years, you just watch it.

    The simple thing is this:

    If David Beckham, the 'Michael Jordan' of soccer, cannot sell out stadiums in a bigcity (Los Angeles) with much more diversity than ours, then what in the hell makes you think that MLS will be selling out stadiums in Portland, OR?

    Where is the evidence to support your position?

    My position is that MLS is an utter failure in the USA in comparison to MLB, NBA and the NFL. Thus, no big city in the USA should ever pursue MLS.

    The support for my position is David Beckham unable to have stadiums sell out of tickets and recently entertaining the thought about playing in country that actually gives a shit about soccer, Italy.

    To all your soccer-loving Europhiles, I am laughing at you now and I will be laughing at you in 2 years when your hobby is a financial failure.

  • Frank (unverified)
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    anon MLB promoter: "Ticket sales alone do not a financially successful sports league make"

    As this "anonymous" guy already read off his "Bring MLB Baseball to Oregon" talking points sheet, the average salary of MLS players is $61,000 a year.

    You don't need TV to be successful when the average players salary is $61,000 a year. That's no more than (and may now be less than) AAA baseball players make per season. AAA baseball has needed NO television to be financially successful for a more than century. Just decent ticket sales. Portland Timbers fans have proven they buy more than enough tickets for the Timbers to be successful at the MLS level.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Can we really run another businessman out of town because we automatically think they're all trying to rip up off rather than accepting that maybe Merritt Paulson is a businessman who actually wants to give back to the community?

    If Young Master Paulson weren't asking for public financing to enable the operation of his privately held business, I might believe he was trying to "give back" to the city. His actual proposal, however, asks the city to take on the lions share of the financial risk, in case revenues aren't as high as projected--a very high probability given that only 3 MLS franchises were profitable last year, all located in metro areas 3-6 times as populous as Portland.

    If Paul Allen was able to privately finance the Rose Garden, then I'm sure Young Master Paulson should be able to privately finance a suitable soccer stadium in Soccer City USA.

  • Al in SE (unverified)
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    The MLS proposal is anything but progressive. In fact, it's trickle-down economics. Using urban renewal funding to build a new baseball stadium and refurbish (again) PGE Park will take tax revenue away from the county ... you know, that government entity that would use it for human services. As for creating 300 jobs? Doing what? Does anyone believe that moving up from the current minor-league soccer team to a "major league" team will add anything like 300 jobs? And that new baseball stadium Paulson wants? It will have less than half the capacity of PGE Park. Say goodbye to the cheap seats ... and hello to luxury boxes. A major construction project would certainly mean new jobs for a couple of years. But why not a project that would benefit the community at large, rather than allow some rich kid to play big-time sports franchise owner. And as far as Paulson's "guarantee," what happens a few years down the road if he sells the team(s)? Try collecting on that guarantee then.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    Who knew BO had soccer trolls.

    In re: farce of sports team economic development

    here

    Dennis Coates (Professor of Economics at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and President-Elect of the North American Association of Sports Economists) provides a nice survey of the academic literature on the economic impact of sports stadiums in The American.

    The most basic question about stadiums, arenas, and sports franchises is the extent to which they contribute to the vitality of the local economy. Supporters of publicly financed stadiums argue that the benefits are substantial, while opponents say they are small and highly concentrated among the wealthiest citizens. To buttress their case, supporters mostly use economic impact studies that predict how the local economy will be affected by the stadium, while opponents compare the economy before and after the facility is constructed. Supporters tend to imply that redistribution of economic activity from the suburbs or outlying areas of a city to the downtown is desirable, while opponents generally oppose this sort of redistribution and focus instead on job and income creation.

    The typical economic impact study gathers data on all aspects of spending related to a stadium, including the money spent to build it and the money spent by fans in connection with the stadium (including on tickets, at restaurants, and at hotels). The impact of this spending ripples outward into other areas of the economy through a multiplier. By linking spending to employment, the study then calculates how many jobs a stadium has created. It does not perform a cost-benefit analysis, which would address the opportunity costs of raising taxes to pay for a stadium and consider alternative uses of those funds.

    Academic researchers have examined the prospective economic impact studies and found a variety of methodological errors in them, all of which raise doubts about the magnitude of the predicted spending and job increases. Other scholars use data from multiple years before and after stadium construction to measure the impact of the stadium. These ex post studies reject stadium subsidies as an effective tool for generating local economic development.

    My own research, conducted with economist Brad Humphreys (who is now at the University of Alberta), has used perhaps the most extensive data, incorporating yearly observations on per capita personal income, employment, and wages in each of the metropolitan areas that was home to a professional football, basketball, or baseball team between 1969 and the late 1990s. Our analysis tried to determine the consequences of stadium construction and franchise relocations while controlling for other circumstances in the local economy. Scholars Robert Baade, Allen Sanderson, Victor Matheson, and others have taken slightly different approaches, but the results are fairly constant from one analysis to another. There is little evidence of large increases in income or employment associated with the introduction of professional sports or the construction of new stadiums. (Emphasis added)

    I know, it's cut-n-paste, but if I didn't do it, the trolls would never read it.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Merritt Paulson has backed these bonds with his families money.

    If you believe this will happen, you are insane.

    The Task Force has called for this to be a precondition the City of Portland to issue any municipal bonds, but I'll believe it when I see it.

    At any rate, if the Paulson family is really so keen on putting their own money at stake, then they should pursue private financing. They are not doing this, however, and any bonds will be issued by the city of Portland. Ultimately, it's the issuer of the bond who has to pay the debt.

  • conspiracyzach (unverified)
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    Uh oh spaghetti Oh. Looks like the word is getting out that the "let's prop up our city economy with a field of schemes" model is not fooling many people anymore. Hire another consultant, feed more into the various funny money P.A.C.s and we can stage another fake protest. Just do it!

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Who is going to pay the current stadium fees and PFE bonds if we run another potential renter out of town? You know Mr. Paulson is paying those right? He doesn't have to pay them you know that too right?

    Tell me who is going to pay all that if he leaves town?

    Are the Beaver's or Timber's going anywhere? Both do fairly well in the recently renovated PGE Park. Even if Young Master Paulson took his marbles and went home (presumably to New York), someone would likely purchase those franchises from the Paulson clan or another minor league baseball and soccer would move to PGE Park. It's a fine facility, and Portland is a solid market for both AAA baseball and the USL.

  • conspiracyzach (unverified)
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    The Oregon Ducks are learning that they might be able to pay for their new arena....as long as they always win. They are losing over and over again. Big surprise. Go Ducks...into Bankruptcy.(a quarter of a billion dollar arena or more!)

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Frank,

    I'm a Trailblazer fan and think baseball is deadly dull, so can we ditch the ad hominem arguments?

    Despite very low median player salaries (an alleged source of revenues to pay the proposed bond debts), only three MLS teams made money last year. If the city of Portland is going to take on millions in debt, we should be damn sure the alleged source of funds to repay the debt has a solid financial model. The data are clear: the MLS does not have such a model.

  • Frank (unverified)
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    anon: "Are the Beaver's or Timber's going anywhere? Both do fairly well in the recently renovated PGE Park."

    Then you can build a BILLION dollar NFL football stadium in football stadium in Portland instead.

    You have that whole list of anti-MLS talking points memorized and are trash-talking the MLS so you can get whatever other major league sport you want here instead. Don't even pretend different.

  • (Show?)

    @ Garrett

    Ha!

    Are you suggesting we bend urban renewal law to appease Mr. Paulson? Sure sounds like it. If this soccer team is as important to the future of the City as you claim, then there shouldn't be a problem using City General Funds to pay for it. Hey! You and your friends could voluntarily tax yourselves to help Mr. Paulson out. If this project isn't worth the risk to the City General Fund, or your pocket, why is it worth the risk to other jurisdictions who would be paying for it under duress through urban renewal?

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Frank,

    I'm actually a huge Trailblazers fan, who finds baseball deadly dull, so why don't we stop with the ad hominem arguments (which, at any rate, are possibly the least persuasive kind of argument one could make against an anonymous person)?

    The supposed "gains" that MLS has made financially are only that the league is losing somewhat less money than before. In 2008, only 3 teams made money (located in Canada's largest metro area and in America's 2nd and 4th largest metro areas [Portland is 23rd]), and the league as a whole has never been anywhere close to profitable.

    Now, what are the is the supposed source of revenues for the debt payments on the bonds the city is being asked to issue to re-renovate PGE Park?

    A special income tax set asides from (paltry) MLS player salaries and ticket taxes. But what happens if the math doesn't pan out? Who's left holding the bag? (Hint: the citizens of Porltand)

    The MLS only has 13 seasons under its belt, nowhere near 30 years, the term of the bonds we're being asked to issue. NASL lasted 17 seasons, and we're entering the worst recession since the Depression. Do the math.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    Jeremy

    Nice try, but wrapping soccer in the progressive flag is not very convincing.

    If spending $100M (yes, it will be tha much at a min) on park creates 300 jobs, how about building factories for Nike or Intel or a green energy facility. I mean those would be real jobs that pay pretty well, just ask Hillsboro and Beaverton.

    "2.The general fund should not be exposed to risk associated with the City's sale of bonds to support the project. "

    God, this is getting tiring. CoP takes out the bonds and CoP pys for the bonds. They are hoping Paulson will stick around for 30 years to pay them. The taxpayer is on the hook for the whole $100M.

    If Paulson can give a personal guarantee (even though I think he is fabulizing), why does he need to borrow money at all?

    The soccer fans just think if they scream the same empty arguments over and over they'll get their way.

    Soccer just aint happening as a spectator sport. Beckham is gone.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "that is an outright lie. Merritt Paulson has backed these bonds with his families money. He will be the one on the hook in the unlikely case MLS fails."

    THat is an outright lie. CoP takes out the bonds and CoP pays the bonds. They hope Paulson pays CoP to pay the bonds. Otherwise, there goes the general fund.

    Instead of reacting, think a little.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Frank,

    If you haven't figured it out, I'm not so much anti-MLS or anti-soccer as I am opposed to taxpayer subsidized pro sports stadiums; they're a terrible investment, which yield far fewer jobs and public benefits than other forms of public investment. So no, we should certainly not pursue a billion dollar football stadium.

    Sometimes it seems like soccer supporters (a downtrodden lot in football-, baseball-, basketball-, and even hockey-crazy America) seem to think their favorite sport is entitled to its fare share of public financed boondoggles. Instead, let me suggest, why don't we avoid all taxpayer funded sports stadium boondoggles? Portland has an admirable history of avoiding falling for such scams in the past; let's continue it into the future.

  • Jerry (unverified)
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    Some of you people are completly moronic with your understanding of business. Why on earth would Merrit Paulson use his own money to upgrade a facility that he doesn't even own and the the city has no desire to sell. And if I did own a facility, wouldn't I want to have the highest paying tenant of my facility to be successful? The city owns PGE. It's not like Merritt is asking the city to build him a 300 million dollar stadium like many other cities are building for their pro sports team.
    And think about this. Vancouver BC is almost guaranteed to move to MLS in 2011. That means the Portland Timbers nearest rival would be in Texas. It wouldn't be long before the USL would eventually fail and that the highest paying tenants of PGE would no longer be their. How are you going to pay off those PFE debts then?

  • shrek (unverified)
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    In response to the question about why Mr. Paulson is not pursuing private financing:

    It is my understanding that the city of Portland owns PGE and is not interested in selling. Why would Mr. Paulson pay the city to upgrade its own facility?

    The question here is does the city of Portland think they should upgrade their facility. If you think not that's fine, but don't ask someone else to deal with our problem.

    By the way can we please stop questioning someone's honesty and merit just because they have money. If you want to have an honest debate you have to believe someone is being honest. Mr. Paulson has stated his family will be backing in the bonds. This is not in writing yet because it was just recently brought to the table. If you don't believe he's honest that's fine, but you can't use that as an argument specifically against the risk. He has addressed that issue.

    If you just don't trust Paulson's financial situation, that's a fair reason not to like this proposal, but be honest and say that.

  • (Show?)

    Jeremy-- thanks for kicking off this discussion. I don't know where I stand on it.

    I trust that Paulson says he'll back the deal with family money, but what guarantee does Portland have? How do we know that he won't just bankrupt his way put of his obligation? Perhaps we ought to ask him to put up a substantial 7 or 8 figure bond as collateral? Or maybe even some family real estate?

  • Anon (unverified)
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    BTW, Bojack does some simple back of the napkin math about the bonds, and it's pretty clear that ticket revenues and player salary taxes alone will not be anywhere near sufficient to cover the bond payments:

    http://bojack.org/2009/03/paulson_stadiums_deal_defies_s.html

    In sum, the bond payments would amount to a bit over $6 million per year, which means each of the 15 home games would need to bring in $411,667 in fees to cover debt payments. Even if 20,000 fans per game showed up, they would each need to pay a $20 fee, on top of the actual ticket price, to even come close to covering the debt payments. With a $2 million salary cap, play salaries would only yield $180,000 / year or $12,000 per game.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Kari,

    These are the right questions to be asking. Ultimately, Portland is issuing the bonds ($85 million worth), and the city is on the hook. We should meet claims that the "Paulson family shall guarantee the bonds with their personal wealth" with great scrutiny, especially when it's all just PR talk at this point, with no actual backing documents. If such documents ever get produced, I suspect the devil will be in the details, which the city's lawyers should parse with care. What remedy would the city have if the Paulson family gets sick of losing money and stops backing the bonds? These are really crucial questions.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Shrek,

    The city's ownership of PGE Park is not a barrier to private financing. Portland could lease PGE Park to Paulson for $1 per year for 30 years (or 50 years or whatever) and assign Paulson the outstanding debt the city incurred to upgrade the stadium 10 years ago (around $27.2 million). Then Paulson could finance any additional improvements himself.

    The reason why we're not seeing any such proposals, I surmise, is that the Paulsons (for good reason) don't want to themselves be on the hook for such debt. I also suspect, in any case, that nobody would buy bonds issued by the Paulsons for such a project, given the dismal revenues of MLS franchises.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Frank and Jeremy; you guys just don't get it. MLS is BAD soccer. Right now I'm watching a half-assed Montrel MLS team get schooled by Santos Laguna (a club team at best) in CONCACAF play.

    As others have stated, 20,000 or 30,000 season tickets ain't nothing when it comes to the economic viability of a soocer team and the overall league. And I love soccer! My argument is that MLS is not viable and that a Portland franchise, while I would personally welcome it, should not be asking for publicly backed bonds to refurbish a stadium that quite frankly does not need to be refurbished. There are several viable soccer venues that already exist in Portland that would house 20,000 fans.

    How about the Portland team show some promise, the quality of MLS soccer improve dramatically and THEN ask for a newer stadium. What exists right now is more than adequate for the Timbers, Sounders, Canucks and the occasional FC Barca or Chelsea that would play exhibition matches.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Jeremy,

    I think the problem many people have is that they will believe these conditions will be met when they see them met, see the books of the team and owner opened to public inspection, see the owner personally held liable (not an LLC) etc.

    We are not required to have faith in anything we do not believe is worthy of our faith.

    Key among the conditions were:

    There will be no risk to the basic services provided by the city's general fund. The general fund should not be exposed to risk associated with the City's sale of bonds to support the project. The Paulson family shall guarantee the bonds with their personal wealth (Merritt Paulson has already agreed to this provision. The City will be protected from project cost overruns.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    To be clear, the city task force announced these various conditions (including the Paulson family guaranteeing the bonds), but the Paulsons have not actually agreed to the conditions, and no agreements reflecting these conditions have even been drafted.

    In this economy, it's not like the other cities bidding for MLS teams have amazing stadiums or anything. The Miami bid backers just pulled out, finding the $40 million expansion team price tag to be over inflated. Vancouver doesn't have a suitable soccer specific stadium, nor does St. Louis or Montreal.

    Why couldn't a Portland MLS franchise just continue playing at the present PGE Park? It certainly wouldn't cost $85 million to do some minor upgrades, like adding real grass and putting in some removable bleachers along the eastern touch line.

  • anon (unverified)
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    @ mp97303 I don't think you understand what a "troll" is. you are bad at the internetz

    emphasis added

  • Eoghantodd (unverified)
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    Factcheck: Montreal is not an MLS team. It is a USL-1 team.

    Santos Laguna is not a 'club team at best'. Santos Laguna is a Mexican top division team that finished high enough in their league to qualify for a regional cup.

    The Canucks are a hockey team. They cannot play on turf or grass.

    The Sounders will not be playing any matches at an unimproved PGE Park, as they are now in the MLS.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Jeremy Wright:

    As for PGE Park - it was never intended for MLB. 20,000 seats is not MLB size.

    Bob T:

    How about 30K ? The "size" is what the market can bear, not what a subsidized stadium attracts. Maybe the real size of MLB stadiums, had there been no subsidized stadiums the past 80 years, would be about 30-40K. That's all they need now -- the teams get more revenues from TV I think. But it doesn't matter. If they have to turn people away because it's packed, so what.

    Jeremy Wright:

    Did you miss the part about how the City of Portland owns PGE Park and rents it to the Portland Timbers and Beavers as well as PSU Football and high school football?

    Bob T:

    I'm not sure that is correct. I think the city has control of the stadium so long as it is used for sports, but is actually owned by the Mult Co Athletic Club which prevents Portland from bulldozing it or even selling it (because they can't).

    What happened to the last PGE Park update? Were you aware that old man Glickman was given a position by his son in that new company that ran the team/stadium, and he sat in front of a computer playing solitaire and made $75 K doing that? There's where your tax dollars went. Erik Sten should have been dragged through the streets and then tarred and feathered for pushing that one through.

    Here's the grand chance for the (apparently) mostly progressive Portland to squash one of these corporate welfare schemes to set an example. So far, I see this effort as a flop. You can play all kinds of games like seeing to it that a higher percentage of the construction jobs go to minorities etc, but in the end that doesn't matter and Paulson will be laughing all the way to the bank. What's the matter -- afraid of being on the same side as the Cascade Policy Institute?

    Bob Tiernan Mult Co.

  • (Show?)

    "MLS is going to be a disaster in a couple years, you just watch it."

    After 14 years, with a number of cities now having soccer-only stadia and teams now actually making a yearly profit (distinct from the value of the franchises, the real barometer, and the concurrent increase in franchise fees), they're suddenly going to tank in a couple years? Is there really a precedent for that? AFL--7 years USFL--three years WUSA--three years ABA--less than 10 years NASL--16 years

    Heck, the NFL started in the 20s and was a joke until well after the war. Pro basketball wasn't popular until guys like Cousy and Mikan in the 50s, then really took off with Wilt.

    The MSL is not exactly capturing the imagination of a giant swath of Americans, but a couple of things are true about it:

    1) The gap is nowhere near as large as some of the commenters would have it. The better MSL teams are better than bottom rank teams in the Euro leagues in many cases. No, the best MSL teams aren't strongly competitive against AC Milan or Man U or Bayern Munich--but the NFL has the Lions as well as the Steelers.

    2) The ownership strategy and group are both very smart and disciplined. Bojack was complaining about the low revenue of player salaries to tax--I think a salary cap of $2mil and cooperative ownership to prevent salary inflation via rogue GMing is a very stabilizing influence.

    3) Time certainly will tell, but the enthusiasm for the initial Seattle team has been nothing short of tremendous. 20,000 season tickets are gone. That's it right there, they've covered their nut for the year, and that's before all the merchandise and ancillary gameday revenue. In this economy, 20,000 season tickets at the team hasn't played a game? In Seattle? Portland's frankly a better soccer market than Seattle.

    4) Population: growing, and growing more ethnic, particularly Latino. The Galaxy may not sell out every game, but there sure are a lot of Spanish heritage people showing up. The area's population is slated to both grow significantly in the next 30 years, and do so with a higher percentage of minority residents than today. Now smart roster management and marketing has to go with that, but again I think LA does a pretty good job from what little I've seen.

    I totally support and freely admit the prominent study most often mentioned to make the case for public financing not being a profitable investment for their money. But it assumes I think far more direct outlays as has been the case where a city builds a stadium nearly entirely on their own dime, then gives the team a sweetheart lease and side income--then the team splits. The recommendations of the Task Force MUST be met, but assuming they are substantially met this should be a pretty low-risk venture. As a low risk venture, it's actually a very good use of bond financing RIGHT NOW, when shovel ready infrastructure projects are needed. The argument is that the construction jobs don't last, and the ones that do suck. I would like to see a living wage requirement be attached to the agreement to fix the second part, but short term or not, a big infusion of construction work in the next 18 months would be really helpful no matter what it was for.

    A lot of healthy skepticism has gotten some concessions from Paulson. He's kinda dancing and not giving up his position publicly, which is smart. But he's not so dumb IMO as to not realize that for $40 million--cash money on hand for his family--he can have a team and a place to play. He's got a lot of comedown room before it's not a good deal for him anymore.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    Anon,

    Vancouver Whitecaps are likely to move to MLS in the next expansion round. Portland would be a lone bastion in the USL market. Their nearest competitor will be at least 1,000 miles away. Travel costs alone say that they can't survive. No good business person thinks they could

    The lease on PGE Park expires in 2010. Merritt owns the AAA franchise as well and can take them anywhere he wants in 2010. Two obvious locations would be Tuscon, which has a new AAA park and is nearer the parent club San Diego and also Richmond, VA, which also has a fancy new AAA stadium bill and they need a team. There are also a few other cities with AAA stadium bills in the works.

    Think it won't happen? I lived in Salt Lake when the last incarnation of the Beavers split town to go to Salt Lake that provided a proper AAA stadium where the owner could actually put forth a product that was good. The stadium and team are still thriving there.

    Portland is a great market for AAA. They need a facility that works. PGE, a giant cavernous relic of minor league baseball won't work. PGE as a soccer specific stadium is a destination point. A AAA stadium...yeah...I was there when SLC built Franklin Covey Field. It'll sell out.

    Still...who pays the bonds if Merritt doesn't? I'm waiting....

  • Zygote (unverified)
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    Lordy...

    The timbers army has now invaded Blue Oregon, shoveling more propaganda: -"No risk" -"No impact on the general fund" -"Huge job creation" -"Huge economic development" -"Opponents are 'naysayers' who ignore the facts" -"Merritt Paulson is a kind-hearted soul who just wants what's best for all of us, if we'd only accept him into our hearts..."

    Yes, Jeremy, there is a Santa Claus. The excitement is indeed "palatable."

    By the way, you're the same Jeremy Wright who claimed on KGW that these were "shovel-ready" projects? As a professional big-time "public affairs consultant" you wouldn't say something if it wasn't true, right?

  • JerryB (unverified)
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    "Still...who pays the bonds if Merritt doesn't? I'm waiting...."

    Do you mean the bonds the city is paying for the last PGE Park upgrade? Those would be paid the same way they are now, with funds from the Visitor Development Fund.

  • bradleyinse (unverified)
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    I believe the MLS deal is important for Portland and I hope the City Commissioners have the courage to vote yes. This really is a chance for our city to not only protect the current investment in the park but to enrich the already vibrant soccer community here in Portland. For the narrow minded so called "progressive" who referred to soccer trolls here I am a father of a child who not only plays youth Soccer in SE Portland but is also an avid Timbers supporter. Vancouver will be awarded a spot in this expansion=almost a certain fact. This means Seattle and Vancouver (cities that get sh*t done) will both finally leave USL in their rearview mirrors potentially leaving Portland alone in USL as the sole franchise on the West Coast. So fellow progressives I really want you to think hard about this. Portland in a somewhat unstable USL with it's nearest rival now in Austin, Tx or Minnesota. Boy that sounds like a great recipe for success!! So Merrit Paulson who has been in good faith paying off the old Portland Family Entertainment debt could easily be sitting on a failed Timbers and the city losing a valuable tenant at PGE who has been paying off the outstanding bonds and paying into the Sports Spectator Fund. This is a terrible scenario for us in my opinion and especially when the alternative is to say YES to a world class facility, to World Cup qualifiers, to international friendlies with the likes of Chelsea, etc. I certainly understand if you just hate sports and there is nothing I can do to change your mind, however, think about this as an investment that protects the taxpayer from a failed PGE and enriches our community with a sport that appeals to every culture!

  • (Show?)

    For the record, renters regularly renovate property that they don't own - if it's for their own business purposes. Ask any restaurant or coffee shop owner. Usually in exchange for rent concessions.

    Just the other day, I was talking to a friend who runs a yoga studio. They entirely guttted and rebuilt the building they're in -- and got a year's free rent. But the owner still owns the building.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    There was someone who posted elsewhere here about a "need" vs a "want". The Timbers franchise does not "need" a renovated stadium to play in the MSL. PGE Park is sufficient as it stands today.

    The much maligned Seattle soccer market used the old stadium at the Expo center in downtown for several years for the Sounders. Was it perfect? Heck no, but they built the franchise and the quality of play and then moved forward.

    Paying out more public money under the guise of "saving" an already poor monetary decision from the past seems dubious to me. Again, I am a die-hard soccer fan and would love for Portland to becomean MLS franchise. I fail to see the "need" for public bonded money to make the deal work.

  • TimberJim (unverified)
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    PGE Park current capacity: 18,000 Average MLS attendance : 16,310

    Why can't we just keep it business as usual and concentrate on selling out PGE now instead of relying on projections of what MIGHT happen.

  • Israel Bayer (unverified)
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    I'm a sports fanatic, but I just don't see the logic behind this. Does that mean I won't support a new team? No. But at the end of the day bringing a major sports institution to town in the current economic climate is risky business. I'm glad we have people at City Hall questioning every aspect of this deal - even if at times they are elementary. I want to know as a Portlander that my city is making the best decision for the long-term.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    It's even more important now in light of the fact that Portland is one of 4 cities vying for two spots - and Portland is running right behind Vancouver (the Whitecaps) in getting a franchise. I belive the MLS commissioner is drooling at the fact that Seattle could be joined by the other two NW franchises. Lest we forget - The Whitecaps, Sounders, Timbers, and Earthquakes were the best attended teams (behind the Cosmos) in the old NASL during that league's heyday in the late 70's. It's tradition we are looking at here, which ovverides the cost and worries about what could happen. If Portland does not get MLS, we will never get a chance to get a 2nd major team in any sport again. We will become a sports pariah and a permanent one-horse major league city.

  • bradleyinse (unverified)
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    Kurt C,

    I am almost 100% certain that it is not a want but a requirement of MLS that we make PGE soccer/Football specific. This is one of the reasons MLS has been successful. Top leagues around the world don't play in stadiums built for anything other than soccer. It's amazing to hear people continue to talk about risk when several people here have laid out the risk of getting stuck in USL with Seattle and Vancouver in MLS. Are people here so anti soccer that they refuse to even look at the U.S Map to see where that leaves us in USL? The benefit of this makes the risk very minimal. The Timbers have arguably the best support for this game anywhere in the U.S. or Canada.

  • TimberJim (unverified)
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    The Timbers have arguably the best support for this game anywhere in the U.S. or Canada.

    Does this mean we are fair weather fans? Averaging 8,000 people is not a massive supporter turnout. Sure if the product improves, more will show up but for how long? Lose a few games and the stadium is back to being half full again.

    The Timbers have great support in that people show up and shout loud. But to anyone spending a dime on this project it is down to numbers.

    300 people at a rally, out of a population of 600,000 does not indicate this is a wildly popular proposal.

  • TimberJim (unverified)
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    I should probably add that if it wasnt for Thirsty Thursday and the addition of all those drunk college kids looking for cheap booze, average attendance would be down further.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    And to answer to all of you about the attendance figures...

    In the EPL, after Aresenal (60,000), Manchester U (50,000), and Liverpool (45,000), the rest of the EPL averages about 25 to 30 thousand a game in soccer specific stadiums. The next level (League Championship)averages around 5,000 less.

    Around the world, soccer averages around 20-30 thou a game for regular matches for top flight teams. We only see the big games (World Cup, Champions League, ect) here in America that somewhat skew our notion of soccer attendance. The only reason Arsenal and Man U get all those people is because they have been a select and successful teams for quite a while and have gained a world-wide following - much like our NFL teams do which average the same anount of fans, albeit a different kind of 'football'.

    PGE park is a perfect venue for an MLS team. The fans are a perfect fit as well.

    MLS is the only answer to these times in life to keep us going and distracted from what ails us outside of the sporting arena.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    The proposal would use $39 million in taxpayer backed bonds to upgrade taxpayer owned PGE Park to a world-class facility. The proposal would also build a boutique 9,000 seat Triple AAA baseball stadium at either the existing Memorial Coliseum site or Lents Park for approximately $45 million that would be paid for through a yet-to-be-determined combination of Urban Renewal funds, bonds on the Spectator Facilities Fund and private investment.

    These bonds would be paid off through a combination of ticket surcharges, lease agreements and player salary tax over 30 years. No existing city of Portland programs would be impacted financially, and independent fiscal analysis shows that an updated stadium would generate significantly more revenue for the city.

    DREAM ON!!!

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Let's just dig a big pit, throw the money in and light it on fire. Eliminate the middleman and all that.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Why are we still debating dedicated use facilities? South Africa almost never build a new one that isn't equally amenable for cricket and rugby and have saved a bundle. Oz is following suit, with drop-in pitches becoming common.

    At the end of the day, mp was spot on about who runs what and what to expect. Personally, on balance I would support the proposal, simply because, if managed well, it would bring growth.

    I find it interesting that there has been no discussion of soccer qua soccer. That would be my only objection. Do you believe that sport can improve character? Then why can't it harm it? World footy is an abomination. If it is the "beautiful game", then the crap I took this morning is positively gorgeous! It is the sport of preference among those whose lives have no meaning, it promotes an ends justify the means mentality, all is judged on material success, and it holds up role models that would be a discredit to any society, time or place. Its every moment glorifies a "watching out for #1 attitude." Eleven selfish individuals on the same field of play do not a team make. No more unsporting individual has ever taken any field of play than Thierrey Henry.

    I fight its influence every day. English cricket is going to hell in a handbasket, and you have centrally contracted players explicitly citing football as the example that motivates sharp play and outright cheating. Graham Swann put it succinctly, on the legendary Test Match Special, "watch football; that's the future; those talking about character versus money need to get real and get over it".

    That's simply not cricket, though it certainly is football!

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Eric, I share your desire to see MLS in Portland. Those talking heads at Fox Sports Channel(the international futbol channel) already talk like the triple crown of Vancouver/Seattle/Portland is a done deal. Good, just don't use public money in getting the deal done.

    Personally I don't see Portland coming up with the 20,000 season tickets that Seattle has. How/Where will the extra 12,000 tickets come from if the Timbers now average about 8,000 fans per game? The TV deal isn't there and the Portland metroplex is a far smaller market than Seattle or Vancouver.

    As you said, PGE Park is a perfect venue for soccer, why then the need to spend upwards of $87MM? Why now? Why the public bonding capacity? If the MLS or the owners want the franchise in Portland (and I belive that both parties do) then why not set up a private bonding entity to finance the package? Then those who think that this is such a slam-dunk financial success can put THEIR dollars into it instead of lining up at the public coffers.

  • TimberJim (unverified)
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    "Let's just dig a big pit, throw the money in and light it on fire. Eliminate the middleman and all that."

    That sounds "Shovel-Ready"!

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    "If Portland does not get MLS, we will never get a chance to get a 2nd major team in any sport again. We will become a sports pariah and a permanent one-horse major league city."

    This whole thing about Portland being the largest city with only one "major" league team is bizarre -- if Portland got another "major" league team, then some OTHER place would be the largest with only one, and then boosters in that place would start pumping the locals to put up money so that rich investors could have a nice deal where they get to keep any profits but the losses are at the city's risk.

    Pro sports aren't progressive. There's nothing progressive about them. They are part of consumer culture and a massive marketing device for anti-progressive corporations. The only quasi-progressive team in sports is the Green Bay Packers. Portland should hold out for that deal --- when the locals can pool their money and own the team with a chartered nonprofit that would be unable to threaten to move elsewhere, then that might be considered a progressive sports venture.

    But meanwhile, all the boosters are doing is clouding the issue. I haven't seen anyone argue against soccer, or hate soccer. The only issue is public subsidy for an extremely wealthy guy who could foot the entire bill for his fantasy stadia -- during the first months of Depression 2.0. There's nothing progressive about giving money to rich guys.

    At least the 19th and early 20th C. robber barons competed to see which one could endow their home cities most lavishly. Today's 21st C. robber barons compete to see which ones can plunder most voraciously and which ones can get the most rubes to demand to be plundered.

    Anyone who thinks Portland has any protection in this deal should read Field of Schemes or spend a few days with the studies linked at fieldofschemes.com

  • (Show?)

    "Portland should hold out for that deal --- when the locals can pool their money and own the team with a chartered nonprofit that would be unable to threaten to move elsewhere, then that might be considered a progressive sports venture."

    Well, that would take $40 million up front in fees, plus at least a couple million more to create a business model and have the requisite lawyers, architects and engineers to make the presentation to the league. I'm all for it--how much you gonna buy in with?

    Any project--soccer, hospital, tram--has risk and reward, and both of those have tangible and intangible aspects. The task force recommendations would seem to virtually eliminate public risk, so it's a matter of how tightly any agreement considers those terms. If the general fund isn't touched and isn't even a fallback, with an actual fallback (like the Paulsons) specified in writing, it's hard to see why it would be a bad idea.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Garrett,

    Your worst case scenario of Young Master Paulson taking his marbles and going home would still mean the city is stuck with less bond debt than if we add another $85 million of new bond debt on top of the existing millions owed on the last PGE Park renovations. And, the math for paying off the new debt clearly just doesn't pencil out, without tax payers taxing a huge hit.

    Even when the last incarnation of the AAA Beavers left, we still had a single A team, which presumably had to pay to lease the stadium and generated ticket fees. Even your worst case scenario is better than being stuck with over $100 million in debt and a highly questionable revenue stream to pay it off.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Based on the recent Oregonian article, it looks like there are some signs of sanity at city hall, though it's hard to tell if it's just Randy Leonard being erratic. See:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2009/03/major_league_soccer_talks_brea.html

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Eric,

    Citing attendance figures from the United Kingdom is pretty insane. The EPL is the most popular soccer league in the world, the English invented soccer, and the EPL's annual TV contract is in the billions (of Pounds!), whereas the MLS gets $8 million per year from ESPN-2 for broadcast rights. This should help clarify the relative levels of popularity in the two countries.

    Soccer has not even managed to surpass hockey in popularity in the US, and this is why the MLS loses money year after year. I'm fine with MLS owners, who are dedicated enthusiasts of a sport, losing money so that a league can continue on, but when Portland is being asked to take on $85 million in debt with MLS player salary taxes and ticket fees being promised as the main source to repay those debts, we should be dubious.

  • (Show?)

    I suspect the vast majority of that TV figure for EPL is ManU broadcasts, no? I wouldn't judge MLB on the terms of the YES Network deal...

  • Anon (unverified)
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    I think you're missing my broader point. Soccer in the UK is insanely profitable, bringing in billions of Pounds in TV rights. The MLS brings in under $10 million.

    If the revenues and success of the MLS as a whole and the proposed Portland franchise in particular are what will pay back $85 million in public debt over the course of 30 years, then we'd want to be sure our public-private investment is in a product that actually seems like it will (1) be around in 30 years, and (2) will actually make money.

    When you actually examine the data on the profitability of the MLS, it's not promising. Pro sports leagues come and go all the time (e.g., Arena Football, NASL, ABA). Only the NFL, MLB, NBA, and barely the NFL have managed to last anywhere near 30 years.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Posted by: Anon | Mar 6, 2009 1:02:32 PM

    Eric,

    Citing attendance figures from the United Kingdom is pretty insane. The EPL is the most popular soccer league in the world, the English invented soccer,

    Playing the game first is not inventing it. As most of the English would admit, if pressed, the Dutch invented soccer. Cricket, golf, tennis, just happened there. They invented rugby, in the true sense of the word. Most motor sport fans don't realize that all the various teams' engines start in the same, small, English manufacturers' establishments.

    More specifically, the English invented modern, money-driven, flashy, big business sport. W. G. Grace, the cricketer, was the first international cultural superstar. English venture capitalists in the roaring '90s set out the proposition, nearly as it exists today.

    GAS (George) is spot on. If you really love a sport, catch it at the sandlot. Volunteer to coach/referee a junior league team/game. Having to see the best and betting only become factors when the event is more important than the sport. Read the fine print. These are largely event promoters, not sports promoters. And, of course, a big fyvmuch to Don King for confounding the two permanently.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "When you actually examine the data on the profitability of the MLS, it's not promising. Pro sports leagues come and go all the time (e.g., Arena Football, NASL, ABA). Only the NFL, MLB, NBA, and barely the NFL have managed to last anywhere near 30 years."

    MLS was created under condidtions FIFA merticulously spelled out in order for the US to host the World Cup in 1996. They also mandate that in order for the US to still compete internationally (the National Team) is to maintain MLS. No MLS, No Team. Simple as that. MLS is mandated by FIFA to continue whether or not teams lose money. MLS is still going to be around for a while. If Portland gets in, it will be there too.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    @torridjoe: "Any project--soccer, hospital, tram--has risk and reward, and both of those have tangible and intangible aspects. The task force recommendations would seem to virtually eliminate public risk"

    1) Nice attempt to equate a for-profit sports venture with a public good like a hospital.

    2) Did you really mean to introduce the tram into this discussion? Shall we consider that example a bit more?

    3) I know, let's let the rich guy pay for the tangible aspects and we'll pay for the intangible ones by thinking good thoughts and wishing him well.

    4) "virtually eliminate public risk" -- nice one. If there's no risk of drawing on the public, then you won't mind if the public simply steps aside and lets the deal go through without our participation, yes? After all, we're superfluous per you.

    Meanwhile, you might want to consult your dictionary on the meaning of virtual. (Hint: virtual reality = non-reality. Virtually certain = uncertain, etc.)

  • Israel Bayer (unverified)
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    I'm a sports fanatic, but I just don't see the logic. Progressive? Please...

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    anon

    You are right, I mixed it up with another term. Please forgive me oh great internetz GOD.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    So far as I can tell, the "progressive" argument for publicly subsidizing Young Master Paulson's plaything, er business, amounts to:

    "Hey man, I'm a hip progressive guy, and I like soccer (which is very Eurpoean and so much less violent than vulgar American football). Therefore, publicly funding my sports preference must be progressive."

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Anon:

    but when Portland is being asked to take on $85 million in debt with MLS player salary taxes and ticket fees being promised as the main source to repay those debts, we should be dubious.

    Bob T:

    The salary issue was used to try to convince us, a few years back, to support building a major league baseball stadium in order to get the Expos to move here. We were supposed to feel better knowing that a batch if millionaire ball players would pay lots of income taxes and all that.

    But anyway, none of this matters -- whether a sport loses money or is wildly popular -- these deals should not be made any more than if taxpayers go on the hook to pay for every store that Safeway wants to put in.

    Voters are being mostly being bypassed in that the city or county will be using that oft-abused "urban renewal" trick. Does anyone see any "blight" near PGE Park? Since locals get to define "blight", this tool as well as the accompanying eminent domain tool gets abused (in one case in a midwestern state, a neighborhood of small, well-kept homes of elderly middle class people was swept away for a condo & golf course project because the city defined blight to include, among other things, having one bathroom in houses of bungalow size. What government does is define it in such a way that everything is on the list. This got this way because too many people in this country didn't pay attention to the property rights defenders (we really needed another Scalia or Thomas in the Kelo ruling).

    Bob Tiernan Mult Co.

  • Zapp (unverified)
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    I am so very tired of the "we are not the best league in the world so why even bother" argument that seems to be a significant portion of the opposition. As a result, I am not going to even respond to positions not based on hard financial numbers or enjoyment (or lack thereof) of the sport irrespective of its level relative to the rest of the world.

    TV ad revenue for soccer is difficult for American broadcasters. They don't like the fact that they can't insert timeouts for commercial breaks. What a joke it is that other sports even allow this. It is an insult to the game to imply that you can just throw in commercial breaks without affecting the outcome.

    Yes, the MLS receives a pittance for its television rights currently. ESPN can't show many commercials during a soccer match. There are ways of generating team revenue outside of television rights. You'll notice that ESPN doesn't even bother to pick up the rights to the EPL. The EPL receives an aggregate 1.8B (using someone else's numbers) for those rights in other countries. The potential is there. This isn't about TV ad revenue (yet).

    Sidetracking a bit, Beckham is a terrible example of a world-class football player. He is an accessory player. He is friends with Tom Cruise. He facilitates quality goals, but he does not create many. He was brought here because he is physically attractive and eminently marketable. The man who worked to bring him to the Galaxy no longer has his job.

    There is no such thing as a "Michael Jordan" of football, so you can forget about trying to find one. It is a true team sport. You can't just pass the ball to Kobe. While players like Kaka or Messi wouldn't consider coming here to play, if they did, they would probably not achieve much higher goal tallies in the MLS than they do in their respective leagues. They rely on players around them being at similar ability levels in order for them to have scoring opportunities. Good players help, but one only has to look as far as Robinho and Manchester City to see that the good-player+bad-team equation alone doesn't create winners. Using the Beckham failure as an argument against the MLS only shows your ignorance.

    Back to the point, this is about the probable last chance for the foreseeable future to get a major league team that can succeed in Portland. This is about pulling the seat covers off the upper sections of PGE Park and leaving them off. We should be excited that someone with the financial backing and motivation to attempt this plan found an interest in the Portland Timbers. Anyone remember the previous owner? I didn't think so. Forget for a moment that we all seem to hate people with money, consider that Paulson is spending $40 million of his own funds on the MLS franchise fee, and look on this as an opportunity.

  • (Show?)

    I don't envy you, Jeremy, trying to make this case to Blue Oregon.

    I hope the bond passes, and we get awarded the MLS team. I'd like to abandon the sinking ship that is USL1.

    But in the spirit of the posting going on here in this thread, I'm also going to commit to argue vehemently against the next public outlay for arts, or music. Whenever it happens.

    In fact, the Park Blocks is a grossly wasteful outlay of land that could be used for more trendy restaurants. Not on my dollar!

  • Joe M (unverified)
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    I vote yes!

    But I am a Soccer/Basketball fan.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Pointing to the English Premier League as an example of how the MLS can be profitable is insane. The English league is the world's best in terms of talent level and in terms of revenues. The MLS isn't anywhere being the world's second or third league by revenue or talent. Rating higher than the MLS on revenues and talent are (offhand) the leagues of these nations: Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, Denmark, Scotland, Chile, and the Czech Republic. Query: would you invest in the second, third, fourth, or fifth most popular sporting league in any of these countries?

    I don't begrudge Young Master Paulson for having lots of (daddy's) money. I do begrudge him for asking the people of Portland to take on $85 million in debt to finance his highly speculative vanity investment. If MLS is such a great investment, then why don't the Paulsons pursue private financing? They are a family of bankers after all, so it's not like they are unfamiliar with debt markets.

    It would be great if Portland could land an MLS franchise, but let's not saddle ourselves with mountains of debt when the Sellwood Bridge is falling down, Trimet is cutting bus lines, and our school are suffering budget shortfalls. Let's get our priorities straight.

  • Send a Message to City Council (unverified)
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  • YoungOregonMoonbat (unverified)
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    Zapp,

    You are speaking directly to my comment. Thus, I am compelled to respond.

    First, I am laughing at you and your like-minded ilk as I write this. You are all living in a dream world thinking that an MLS team will draw tourism to Portland when you cannot even cite numbers that Beckham's presence in LA has boosted tourism numbers there. Get real and show us some numbers or shut the proverbial "fuck" up.

    Second, this is a very raw issue because you and your ilk are shoving this down the Portland residents throats via the City Council. All of you know that if this was put up to vote on a city ballot in 2010, it would get voted down by a 60 to 40 margin.

    Finally, this is real tax payer $$$ that should be used to help those in need during these trying economic times, not ejaculate some Europhile's dream come true.

    So yes, I am fucking pissed that you and your ilk shoved this $30+ million joke down our throats.

    What will you say in 2 years when MLS and the players on the team are still being bankrolled by the City of Portland taxpayers?

  • Frank (unverified)
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    anonymous NFL/MLB in PDX booster - Nobody is comparing the MLS to the English Premier League but the people reading MLB/NFL franchise in PDX talking points.

    Portland Timbers supporters are pointing to the tickets the Timbers already sell as proof that the Timbers would be successful in the MLS.

    Now some actual data from Forbes on MLS franchise value to dismiss this anon talking point nonsense.

    "...At the top sits the Los Angeles Galaxy, worth $100 million....The team’s stadium, Home Depot Center, has 48 suites that lease for as much as $150,000 a season. The 1,500 club seats cost an average of $4,500 per season. Sponsors like American Express (nyse: AXP - news - people ), Delta Air Lines (nyse: DAL - news - people ) and Valero Energy (nyse: VLO - news - people ) bring in another $6 million annually for the team.

    The Toronto FC, which commissioner Garber holds up as the blueprint for the coming expansion teams, is worth $44 million, up four-fold in just three years. The team turned a profit of $2.1 million in its inaugural season last year, when it sold every ticket at 20,500-seat BMO Field.

    A cosmopolitan city with a passionate soccer fan base translated into a sea of supporters donning the red and white team colors at home games. Toronto FC spectators topped the league in spending, averaging $15 a game on food, beverages and souvenirs at concession stands. Toronto also rakes in $4 million in local television and sponsorship revenue.

    “Toronto FC was one of the most successful launches in pro sports history,” Garber says after reflecting on how Toronto reporters scoffed during the initial press conference, predicting that MLS would never succeed in a city with a history of failed soccer teams.

    Two more teams, Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls, will move into new homes over the next year. Real Salt Lake forecasts that revenues will increase from $7.6 million to $20.3 million in 2009, its first full year in a new soccer-specific stadium. The team will control the stadium and get more money from sponsorships, concessions and non-soccer events. The Red Bulls will have similar benefits at their new stadium. We expect both teams to become profitable and increase in value after they move into their new stadiums.

    Struggling teams? The Kansas City Wizards are playing in a minor league baseball stadium and had just $5 million in revenue, less than half the league average of $13 million. The Columbus Crew, despite playing in a soccer-specific stadium, can’t find sponsors and thus generated just $6 million in revenue. Chivas USA only had $10 million in revenue because they are tenants of the Galaxy at Home Depot Center. The New England Revolution, who play in Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL’s Patriots (both teams are owned by Robert Kraft), drew only 10,000 fans to each of their two playoff games last season. All four of these teams get only a fraction of the local television and sponsorship money that the Galaxy and Toronto FC take in.

    Richard Schaefer, president of Golden Boy Promotions says, “I expect soccer franchises to trade in the $80 to $100 million range within the next three years.”..."

    No. 1 Los Angeles Galaxy
    
    Owner: Philip Anschutz
    
    Stadium: Home Depot Center
    
    Value: $100 million
    
    Revenue: $36 million
    
    Operating Income: $4.0 million
    
    The Galaxy was already the league’s marquee team before the arrival of David Beckham, soccer’s most renowned superstar, last summer. Now they’re in another stratosphere--L.A.’s $36 million of revenue in 2007 was double that of any other team.
    
    No. 2 Toronto FC
    
    Owner: Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE)
    
    Stadium: BMO Field
    
    Value: $44 million
    
    Revenue: $17 million
    
    Operating Income: $2.1 million
    
    Hailed by the commissioner as a model team, Toronto FC sold out every game in its inaugural season. The average spectator spent $4.03 on souvenirs a game--that’s a higher rate than MLSE's flagship sports property: hockey’s Maple Leafs.
    
    No. 3 Chicago Fire
    
    Owners: Andrew and Ellen Hauptman
    
    Stadium: Toyota Park
    
    Value: $41 million
    
    Revenue: $16 million
    
    Operating Income: -$3.1 million
    
    In exchange for $98 million of public financing to construct Toyota Park, the Fire share revenues from parking, premium seating and general ticket sales with the Village of Bridgeview, Ill. The upside for the team: no debt service on a state of the art soccer stadium, which is a far cry from cavernous Soldier Field, where they once went 53 days between home games, playing second fiddle to the NFL’s Bears.
    
    No. 4 FC Dallas
    
    Owner: Hunt Sports
    
    Stadium: Pizza Hut Park
    
    Value: $39 million
    
    Revenue: $15 million
    
    Operating Income: $0.5 million
    
    The franchise once known as the Dallas Burn, which for a time called a high school football stadium home, has undergone dramatic changes in recent years. Highlights include moving into a soccer-specific stadium in 2005--complete with a 20-year, $25 million naming rights deal--increased TV exposure and, of course, the new name. The next step in their extreme makeover: trying to secure a jersey sponsorship.
    
    No. 4 FC Dallas
    
    Owner: Hunt Sports
    
    Stadium: Pizza Hut Park
    
    Value: $39 million
    
    Revenue: $15 million
    
    Operating Income: $0.5 million
    
    The franchise once known as the Dallas Burn, which for a time called a high school football stadium home, has undergone dramatic changes in recent years. Highlights include moving into a soccer-specific stadium in 2005--complete with a 20-year, $25 million naming rights deal--increased TV exposure and, of course, the new name. The next step in their extreme makeover: trying to secure a jersey sponsorship.
    
    No. 6 D.C. United
    
    Owners: Victor MacFarlane and William Chang
    
    Stadium: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
    
    Value: $35 million
    
    Revenue: $13 million
    
    Operating Income: -$3.0 million
    
    The most storied team in the league’s brief history is languishing in 47-year-old RFK Stadium. “The stadium does not generate enough revenue on game day because it’s so antiquated,” says Kavin Payne, the team’s president. The team is in talks with both the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County, Md., and hopes to announce plans for a new stadium in the fall.
    
    No. 7 Houston Dynamo
    
    Owner: Philip Anschutz, Golden Boy Promotions and Brenner International
    
    Stadium: Robertson Stadium
    
    Value: $33 million
    
    Revenue: $10 million
    
    Operating Income: -$1.8 million
    
    The Dynamo attracted a strong following after winning the MLS Cup in both seasons since moving to Houston from San Jose, Calif. A partnership that includes famed boxer Oscar De La Hoya bought half the team last year in a record deal that valued the club at $45 million. Now the Dynamo just needs a new stadium to justify the high price.
    
    No 8. Colorado Rapids
    
    Owner: Stanley Kroenke
    
    Stadium: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
    
    Value: $31 million
    
    Revenue: $11 million
    
    Operating Income: -$2.2 million
    
    By establishing a commercial partnership with famed English Premier League team Arsenal, of which Kroenke owns 13%, the Rapids added instant credibility to their brand. Yet challenges remain: The team took a loss airing games on local TV last year when production costs outweighed advertising revenue, despite having favorable terms with Kroenke-owned broadcast partner Altitude Sports & Entertainment.
    
    No. 9 Real Salt Lake
    
    Owner: David Checketts
    
    Stadium: Rice-Eccles Stadium
    
    Value: $30 million
    
    Revenue: $7 million
    
    Operating Income: -$2.1 million
    
    The opening of a soccer-specific stadium next month in Salt Lake City suburb Sandy will usher in a new era for the team, which is currently a tenant at the University of Utah’s football stadium. Real Salt Lake became the first MLS team to acquire a jersey sponsorship, reaching a four-year, $4 million deal with XanGo, a dietary supplement company, before the 2007 season.
    
    No. 10 New England Revolution
    
    Owners: Robert and Jonathan Kraft
    
    Stadium: Gillette Stadium
    
    Value: $27 million
    
    Revenue: $10 million
    
    Operating Income: -$1.5 million
    
    The Krafts are hoping that the success of their other team, the NFL’s New England Patriots, will rub off on the Revolution. Management is exploring options to construct their own stadium--a necessary step to keep pace with the league’s other big market teams, many of which have already moved into cozier, more soccer-friendly confines.
    

    http://www.forbes.com/2008/09/09/mls-soccer-beckham-biz-sports-cz_kb_0909mlsvalues.html

  • Frank (unverified)
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    Ooops...2 #4s, then #6. That's no good. Here's #5.

    "No. 5 New York Red Bulls

    Owner: Red Bull GmbH
    
    Stadium: Giants Stadium
    
    Value: $36 million
    
    Revenue: $10 million
    
    Operating Income: -$4.5 million
    
    The Red Bulls hope their days as a small fish in the big New York sports pond will be over once they begin play at Red Bulls Arena in Harrison, N.J., next year. The Austrian energy drink giant is betting big on a turnaround: paying $150 million for the team, its naming rights and construction costs since 2006."
    
  • Anon (unverified)
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    Frank,

    I'm glad to see your fondness for ad hominem arguments continues unabated.

    Regarding the actual data, the article you cite flatly indicates that "the league is not yet profitable" and that only 3 of the 15 MLS teams turned a profit (i.e., had a positive "operating income") in 2007 which were located in LA, Toronto, and Dallas. Those metropolitan areas are from 3 to 6 times more populous than metro Portland, and the smaller markets tended to incur the highest losses (e.g., Columbus, Kansas City). The league as a whole has never turned a profit, and revenues will likely decline next year because of the recession.

    It is an utter pipe dream to think that general fund tax dollars will not be used to make payments on the 30 year loan we're being asked to take on to fund these stadiums. Player salary taxes and ticket fees wouldn't cover the payments, even if every game sold out and every person attending a game paid a $20 ticket tax on top of the actual ticket price (the tax would never be that high anyway).

    This much is clear: general fund tax dollars will go to pay off the debt incurred to build these stadiums, in a time when Trimet is cutting bus lines, schools are not being adequately funded, and the Sellwood Bridge is crumbling. What, pray tell, is the progressive priority?

  • Frank (unverified)
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    anonymous NFL/MLB in PDX booster - You have been camping this thread for almost 36 hours straight. That's not the behavior of the passive spectator you keep on insisting you are. I told you 36 hours ago I recognized the talking points you were re-quoting. You want the City of Portland to spend money on another pro sports franchise. Just not the MLS. You want the MLS stopped at all costs, because if Portland approves an MLS franchise, it's unlikely there will be another.

    As I have posted multiple times on this thread previously, and you keep trying to ignore, Portland Timbers Fans have ALREADY PROVEN the Portland Timbers will be a success at the MLS level by the tickets Timbers fans have been purchasing throughout the years to attend Timbers games.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Frank,

    What you call "talking points" Aristotle called "arguments." Try making one sometime. It's fun!

  • Mister Tee (unverified)
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    Socialize the financial risks and privatize the profits.

    Straight out of papa's dealbook at Goldman Sachs.

  • JerryB (unverified)
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    One of the many fallacies Soccer supporters are making and many are accepting is that players are paying off the stadium debt. House Bill 2531, the "funding stadiums from player salaries" funny business, does not pay off the stadiums from player taxes, it simply establishes the level of subsidy to be paid from the state General Fund.

    Players, who are defined in the bill as anyone who works for sports teams and their spouses if filing jointly, no more pay off the stadiums than every other taxpayer in the state does.

  • Frank (unverified)
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    Supposedly "Anon" said...

    "Frank, What you call "talking points" Aristotle called "arguments." Try making one sometime. It's fun!"

    Oh really? Well... if you google "Bring Baseball to Portland"

    The 2nd website google comes up with (the first is block by google for malware) is...

    http://www.oregonstadiumcampaign.com/

    It's still up from the push to move the Expos to PDX. That website has forums. Click forums, go to the general discussion forum titled "Virtual BBQ" and surprise, surprise, there's a "MLS to Portland" thread. 1 and 1/2 of that thread is less than a week old.

    http://obc.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/225605187/m/9151052434/p/6\

    At the bottom of that page is this post...

    "Agree with you about the Feds. As for economic diversity in Oregon, well, it's my opinion that it isn't nearly diverse enough. Businesses have left the state and may continue to do so. Oregon has killed it's natural resource economy (fish and timber). Oregon's unemployment level is already at 10%. I suspect the state will exceed the 12.5% you cite. Wouldn't be surprised to see it hit 15% in about 2 quarters or so.

    The City of Portland is talking about cutting it's abandoned car program, for example. How can the city be involved in a stadium deal during dire economic times for the city and state? Doesn't compute with me. Sorry. Also, I suspect that if Portland does this deal, it will kill off any chance of a stadium deal for MLB for at least a generation, if not permanently. Have you guys discussed the impact of this soccer project on your MLB ambitions? Have you thrown in the towel long-term on getting MLB here?

    Just wondering."

    That post was made by a "Mr. Jones" when?

    "Posted March 06, 2009 11:12 PM"

    Within a few minutes of when you came back for this latest round of post replies.

    ==========================================

    Know what else this "Mr Jones" said this week on a "Who's still in here?" on that same forum?

    "2nd time back since the Expos thing. What brought me back today was a story about the efforts to lure MLS here. It'll be a great place for all the illegals to go watch the games. Someone should notify ICE, asap.

    Seriously, I can't believe that Portland is considering some kind of tax right now given the current economic climate. Oregon's economy is heading straight for the toilet and there is no end in site. I am surprised that any city would consider building a stadium right now. Wow."

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Anon:

    If MLS is such a great investment, then why don't the Paulsons pursue private financing?

    Bob T:

    Because they know that many cities are run by idiots who have no problem with using tax dollars to help make their cities "important", while the beneficiaries laugh all the way to the bank.

    Bob Tiernan Mult Co.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Mister Tee:

    Socialize the financial risks and privatize the profits.

    Straight out of papa's dealbook at Goldman Sachs.

    Bob T:

    But remember, such people can't get a dime from you unless they use government to do it for them. I'd be willing to bet that you voted for all five members of the current city council who'll do this for Paulson, and then you'll blame Paulson. Certainly most loyal readers of this blog fit that description.

    Bob Tiernan Mutl Co.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Anon:

    So far as I can tell, the "progressive" argument for publicly subsidizing Young Master Paulson's plaything, er business, amounts to:.....

    Bob T:

    Progressives will never miss a chance to have government do "what the market won't or can't do". But of course, they have it all wrong. It's not written in stone that sports arenas and stadiums have to be as large and expensive as they've become in the last 40 or so years.
    Does anyone here think that had city and state governments curbed their own self-importance when team owners first started playing them for these deals that professional sports would have disappeared? No, we'd have less expensive venues, smaller player salaries, and so on. There'll always be talented people who'll play these sports for money. Thanks to stupid politicians and the millions of stupid voters who agreed with them, we'll never know what the state of pro sports would be like if owners paid their way like others must. But it would exist in its own level as the market would bear. It's hard getting this genie back in the bottle. All it takes is to have enough people ignore warnings that "If we don't pay this money, the team will leave". I say, "Bye!"

    I was listening to KBOO the other morning (Mazza's show) and during the show it was mentioned that one of the things some people in government will bring up is that one way to get support for this scam will be promising to make sure that a larger percentage of the jobs for the renovation of PGE Park and the construction of the new baseball stadium will go to minorities. Well, that's what politicians do to continue the scam and to screw you, and Paulson will laugh all the way to the bank.

    Bob Tiernan Mult Co.

  • Dalrymple (unverified)
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    If Shortstop LLC was really interested in a public/private partnership, they would be offering an equity stake in their company.

    They're not doing so, because they know that owning stadiums is a lousy business model: it costs too much to build them and they rarely generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs of construction. That's why Paul Allen didn't want to own the Rose Garden, and that's why he defaulted on the construction loan: he knew it was a lousy investment and planned on buying it back at a cheaper price.

    Socialize the risks; privatize the profits. Just like Hank Paulson and his good friends at Goldman Sachs.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "It is my understanding that the city of Portland owns PGE and is not interested in selling. Why would Mr. Paulson pay the city to upgrade its own facility? "

    Why are the Hunts paying $35M to renovate Arrowhead Stadium in KC then?

  • Steve (unverified)
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    http://www.cjonline.com/stories/081607/chi_191814885.shtml

    Sorry, the Hunts pledged $125M to renovate Arrowhead Stadium. I am sure young Paulson will neglect to bring this up ever.

  • Frank (unverified)
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    Steve "Sorry, the Hunts pledged $125M to renovate Arrowhead Stadium. I am sure young Paulson will neglect to bring this up ever."

    Nice try, but first of all, the Hunt family has already benefitted thirty years ago from the taxpayers paying for entire original cost of simultaneous construction both Arrowhead Stadium and Royals Stadium. Also, from the text of your linked article...

    "To complete the renovation the way Lamar wanted it done, the Hunt family said Wednesday it would increase its contribution to the project from $75 million to $125 million. Coupled with $250 million in taxpayer money approved by Jackson County, Mo., voters, the total cost of the Arrowhead renovation will be $375 million."

    The pricetag of the original plans for Arrowhead Stadium renovation is $375 million. The Hunt family contribution was planned to be $75 MIL of that $375 mil pricetag. The Hunt Family altered the already drawn up stadium renovation plans after the death of Lamar Hunt as a kind of tribute to Lamar Hunt to make Arrowhead even more state of the art, and the Hunt family is paying the cost of the changes they made to the already completed renovation plans.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "Nice try"

    That's $125M more than Paulson is promising.

    Can't you lads have a bake sale and run aorund aping English soccer fans to raise money?

  • (Show?)

    "That's $125M more than Paulson is promising."

    Paulson is promising $40mil minimum.

    If Council can extract guarantees of living wage permanent AND temporary construction job, and for the Paulsons to cover any gap on financing, what's the problem?

    Which other stimulus projects in the city of Portland look to add 600 well paying jobs over the next 24 months? If this were anything else but a stadium--say, some off-ramp improvements--that the City was proposing to jumpstart with $85 million in 30-year bonds, the applause would be deafening.

  • JerryB (unverified)
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    The problem is that the taxpayer should not be paying for any of the cost of this private business. Merritt Paulson has been using the tactics of a used car dealer, which works for a few loyal fans, but it's just been a pile of lies. It's a long list he's told: he starts with telling us that the old bond is paid off, then that he is paying the old bond off, now that the General Fund is not touched, and that the players of paying it off (but no more than every other taxpayer in the state it). The hard core soccer fanatics have believe it, and they are still repeating them, but it has all been a pile of lies.

  • Isaac Laquedem (unverified)
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    Here is how to measure the permanent jobs that would be created by the project: Take the proposed permanent payroll of the MLS team, and subtract from it the current payroll of the Lumberjax. The difference is the direct increase in jobs. Ignore the construction jobs; the same amount of construction payroll would be created by spending the money on rebuilding the Sellwood Bridge.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "Paulson is promising $40mil minimum.

    If Council can extract guarantees of living wage permanent AND temporary construction job, and for the Paulsons to cover any gap on financing, what's the problem?"

    $40M is to buy himself a soccer franchise.

    We get to spend $100M to build him a playground that maybe he'll pay rent on for 30 years and maybe he won't.

    Are you telling me this is the best job creation for $100M you can find? For 300 perm jobs, that is $333,000 per job. Are you serious?

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    Has any of the ed's here ever done any kind of analysis of what topics get the most posts. I mean, I am kinda shocked to see such an outpouring here for soccer.

  • (Show?)

    "Take the proposed permanent payroll of the MLS team, and subtract from it the current payroll of the Lumberjax. The difference is the direct increase in jobs. Ignore the construction jobs; the same amount of construction payroll would be created by spending the money on rebuilding the Sellwood Bridge."

    Can you explain what you mean by your comparison of MLS and Lumberjax? The MLS would have a larger payroll, given the much higher attendance, media relations staff, etc.

    The problems with spending the money on rebuilding the Sellwood Bridge:

    a) not in an URD, that i know of b) the cost is at least 4x c) it's nowhere near shovel ready

    Spending the money on the Sellwood wouldn't help the economy at all. 600 construction jobs in the next 24 months would.

  • (Show?)

    "$40M is to buy himself a soccer franchise.

    We get to spend $100M to build him a playground that maybe he'll pay rent on for 30 years and maybe he won't.

    Are you telling me this is the best job creation for $100M you can find? For 300 perm jobs, that is $333,000 per job. Are you serious?"

    I understand what Paulson's $40M goes to. Your point? It was said he's committing $125M less than the Hunt, which is false.

    85M/900 (300 permanent plus 600 construction) is less than $100,000 per job, which is a pretty good bargain, actually, in a climate where even temporary jobs are desperately needed.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    @mp97303: It's not about soccer. It's about lies and "How pro sports turns public money into private profit" (subtitle to the book "Field of Schemes").

    It's about how the only thing we learn from history is that we never learn anything from history, as in MSL backers simply ignoring all the evidence from actual case studies. It's about the ability of the suits to run the same old "job creation scam" again and again, and to get the same idiots to fall for it again and again and again.

    It's about corporate charlatans like Paulson being willing to do and say ANYTHING to get the Portland taxpayers on the hook, because once that happens then he's got the whip hand for as long as he wants, with the ability to threaten to move his teams etc.

    It's about a weakened Portland Mayor who is desperate for support bowing to anyone with a deep pocket who can fund him through a recall. It's about a posturing blowhard who has been leading the charge for MSL and now is trying to pretend to have reservations so that, when he takes the dive, he can pretend to have put the interests of Portland first.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "Your point? It was said he's committing $125M less than the Hunt, which is false."

    Read the article, Hunt is spending $125M to make the stadium better, not to buy more players. Paulson doesn't wants to spend $0 on the stadia. You should check your facts before you accuse others.

    If its about construction jobs then spend $100M on roads or infrastructure and you'll get way more than 600 construction jobs. FOr $100M build Nike a plant in Portland and you'll get way more than 300 perm jobs.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    George Anonymuncule Seldes:

    It's about a weakened Portland Mayor who is desperate for support bowing to anyone with a deep pocket who can fund him through a recall.

    Bob T:

    Again, politicians like Sam Adams, Randy Leonard etc don't need to be "bought" to support this kind of garbage policy. They and thousands like them have this urge to use tax dollars for projects that they think makes their city "important". Besides, Adams was supporting this corporate welfare long before any recall threat materialized.

    And you're right -- it's not about soccer. And it's not about baseball, and it's not about jobs. The subtitle of the book you mentioned (sounds like one I need to read) should also point the finger at government. An example would be a team owner announcing that he's moving his team to another city after one more season, and really intending to. I guarantee you, a local politician will make the first phone call.

    Paulson can't get a DIME from you without getting the government to do it for him. But I hear no one on your side advocating curbing the ability of government to "govern" in this manner.

    Bob Tiernan Mult Co.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    JerryB:

    Merritt Paulson has been using the tactics of a used car dealer

    Bob T:

    But he can't get a DIME of tax dollars without government doing it for him. What are you going to do about THAT ? Re-elect these morons like the way Erik Sten was re-elected despite his own record of doling out corporate welfare? This current scam is being done without much of a vote. This and other rip-offs coming down the pipe is a high price to pay so that progressives can thump their chests and brag about having the first gay mayor of a large city. That's what you get when puny brains vote. Look at the REAL issues.

    Bob Tiernan Mult Co.

  • Isaac Laquedem (unverified)
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    @torridjoe: The reason for subtracting the current Lumberjax payroll is that if a Major League Soccer team comes to Portland, the Lomberjax payroll, admittedly much smaller, goes away, so any analysis of the effect on payroll of an MLS team has to subtract the payroll that disappears when MLS arrives.

  • Jiang (unverified)
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    Posted by: mp97303 | Mar 7, 2009 6:12:30 PM

    Has any of the ed's here ever done any kind of analysis of what topics get the most posts. I mean, I am kinda shocked to see such an outpouring here for soccer.

    It has been widely noted that the quality of the debate is inversely proportional to its length. There's a parallel question about why posts like T.A.'s latest get 4 responses.

  • (Show?)

    Steve, I never said differently about what the money was for. The discussion was private commitment of funds. Bringing MLS to Portland requires a $40mil franchise fee. Paulson is paying it. That was my entire point.

    You can't use $85mil in URD money to fix highways or roads, sorry--especially not outside the URD. You can't spend it on Nike, obviously. And what highway projects are shovel ready, should likely be receiving stimulus dollars already. This is additional construction,not funded elsewhere.

    Isaaq--color me confused, still. Why does an MLS team mean the demise of the Jax? Did I miss a key detail there?

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "You can't use $85mil in URD money to fix highways or roads, sorry--especially not outside the URD."

    OK, so how did David Douglas get a school out of the Pearl District? If we blow URD money on stadia, then something else has to give.

    CoP has a ton of infrastructre they are not addressing (100-yr old sewers) and Sam said he could use $450M to fix streets last year.

  • Isaac Laquedem (unverified)
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    It doesn't - it's my mistake for not being a sports fan. I thought the soccer team was named Lumberjax. I should have said that whatever the current soccer team is called, that's the payroll to deduct from the economic analysis.

  • jhbjr (unverified)
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    Let me see if I get this. Soccer is liberal. Portland is lilberal. Liberals are economic morons. Economic morons will dump public money into anything. Soccer is anything thus we should dump money into it.

    Yea. Good idea.

  • JCV (unverified)
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    Why are we listening to a guy like Jeremy Wright in the first place? He has no qualifications or experience that suggest he knows ANYthing about City financing or economics. Anyone who does can plainly see that this is a bad deal - or, anyone with the wherewithal to type the words "city", "stadium", and "financing" into Google. Or better yet, look at what happened in Seattle and Washington DC.

    I think Wright is a shill for the Paulson gang and wants us to bankroll his personal interests, just like all the other MLS fans. It's ridiculous to think that he carries a voice of any authority in this debate, and I hope readers consider that.

    He also, by the way, sets up a false dilemma: if a sustainable energy business came to Portland with a proposal that required "taxpayer backed bonds to build out their facilities and these bonds would be paid back over 30 years and guaranteed by the personal wealth of the business owners, regardless of performance" - we would be enthusiastic only if it were a good deal for Portlanders - and if it were a sustainable energy business, a good deal is more likely. Not so with a sports team.

    I also have a few questions for Mr. Wright:

    • How will or how many good paying jobs would this bring to Portland, that are NOT player salaries or temporary construction jobs? Often when I ask this question, I hear that they will be "fair wage" jobs. That's not what I'm asking. I'm asking: how many jobs will there be, that can help support a family? "Fair wage" doesn't mean "substantial wage" or even "very good" wage.

    • Where else has a similar deal ever worked? Specifically - with MLS, not with another sort of major league team.

    • Are corporate sponsors relevant to how well a team does financially and if so, where do you plan to find them in Portland? If not, how not?

  • YoungOregonMoonbat (unverified)
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    I have thought of 1 benefit for MLS in Portland, OR:

    1. On the day MLS plays, US Immigration and Customes Enforcement (ICE) will know where the largest concentration of illegal aliens will be on that given day.

    If I was an ICE officer with a single police cruiser, I would be rounding up 3 per every half an hour, sending them down to the Central Precinct for processing, rinse and repeat.

    I am all for MLS so long as it means putting lawbreakers in the same place at the same time.

    Line 'em up, round 'em up, and send them home baby! LOL

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Wow. A moment of lucidity from Bob T, in a "Sir Humphrey" kind of way.

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