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update: Welcome, Taibblog and Reason readers.

The Portland school district, like many others in the state of Oregon, is considering trimming from an already-short school year – Oregon has among the shortest school years in the country, and lost quite a few more days this past December to snow – no surprise given the fact the state has quite the budget shortfall on its hands for this and the next biennium. How dire is the situation? Gov. Ted Kulongoski, in all his wisdom, recommended that the state’s teachers work five days this year without pay. Not any other state employee – just the teachers.

No matter how one feels about that situation, clearly the state and most of the cities of Oregon aren’t exactly flush with cash these days.

Yet in spite of all this, Merritt Paulson (son of former Treasury Secretary paulsonHank), continues to push a plan to build a new baseball-only facility for the Triple-A Beavers, and to convert the recently-renovated (at taxpayer expense) PGE Park to a football/soccer only facility. If the city of Portland provides the necessary funding for these two stadium projects, Paulson intends to then spend the $40 million Major League Soccer franchise fee, thus bringing an MLS team to Portland.

So during a time when consumer confidence has hit record lows, and businesses short on credit are ratcheting things down, Paulson wants Portland taxpayers to spend at least $80 million (the projected cost of the two stadium projects) on his business venture? Nevermind the debatable popularity of MLS – isn’t this the league that mega-star David Beckham just ditched – spending tax dollars on a special interest, so to speak, is sad and pathetic given what PPS is considering.

Let me reiterate – Portland schools face massive cuts, and Son of Hank wants tax money to build stadia? No, no, no, no, no, no!

For as much as I enjoy sports, I cannot with a clear conscience agree that taxpayers ought to subsidize it. For all the to-do about “socialism” in our culture today, it’s thoroughly vexing why any American would want the taxpayer to subsidize such a limited interest. Sports are hugely popular, but by that same token, they’re hugely unpopular with just as many people/taxpayers. Stadium construction-as-public works projects stimulate the economy only insofar as the construction is concerned. Once they’re built, the only jobs left are minimum wage beer and hot dog vendors and ticket takers. There is no “economic investment,” contrary to what Paulson is trying to sell. Investment in such projects is only enabling millionaire owners to continue leeching off of the taxpayers.

Here’s a thought, son of Hank: try paying for your own playthings. For as much as Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has been disagreeable in one way or another, I will say this about him – he may not have had enough assets at the time when he purchased the Dodgers. But here’s a novel concept – he borrowed the money using his own credit, not that of L.A., or its taxpayers.

The state of Oregon and the city of Portland have far more pressing issues than bringing what amounts to another minor league team to the city. If son of Hank wants new stadia, perhaps he can borrow the money from dear old Dad.

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10 Comments

  1. Living in Portland I have to agree with you. Paul Allen built the Rose Garden so it can be done. And why not but the soccer team in the burbs and leave PGE Park for baseball.

    • El Fur de' Ball
    • Posted February 28, 2009 at 11:35 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Educate your self. No public money will be spent on this project. The Paulson family is guaranteeing all of the bonds. Even if there is no stadium deal, the City of PDX will not gain anything. But if they do this deal, there will be at least 600 construction jobs created for the next couple of years and also the increased revenue generated by MLS and other World Class games brought to PDX. This is a win win situation for Portland and it is time from the city to stop being so anti business and start being more progressive in their thinking.

  2. The Stadium proposal does not take any money from schools or other general fund projects. I just thought you might be interested in some factual information. This is likely why the task force is going to recommend it to City Council as long as Paulson backs the bonds so that Taxpayers are shielded. Rod, PGE Park is one of the worst baseball venues imagineable but could be perfect for soccer. It is too bad so many people fail to see how big this will be for Portland.

  3. Where to begin? Yes the school districts are hurting. Yes we are in a recession/depression/meltdown. But lets look at the facts of this deal. The bonds that are going to be put up for the stadiums are only available to fund stadiums, this money is not coming from the general fund and could not be spent on roads, schools or any other program. Secondly, PGE Park/Civic Stadium is owned by the city. Therefore the city has the responsibility to upgrade their own property to maximize profits for their own facility. Paulson would love to buy the property but the property is not being offered for sale for various reasons which include the MAC Club having first right of refusal.

    So this $85 million is to go to build 2 stadiums which will create a lot of construction jobs which we need right now to help our economy. The stadiums should be completed in 2 years time which we should be coming out of if not fully recovered from this recession and people will be able to buy tickets for these events.

    To Rod:
    AAA Beavers ball draws about 5,000 people a game, which is great, but not so great in a 25,000 seat stadium. The plan is to build an 8,000 seat stadium to give a better atmosphere for the game. Plus an 8,000 seat baseball stadium costs alot less than building a 25,000 seat soccer stadium. The favored proposed site for the baseball stadium is where the Coliseum is now, so basically downtown. It will revitalize this area as it is dead during the off season for nba which is perfect for AAA ball.

    Wrapping up here. In the unlikely event that MLS or the Timbers folds, Paulson has said that he will personally back the bonds so that the city would not be on the hook. Wow, jobs created, no misappropriated funds, no risk to the general fund, revitalized areas. This all sounds like a good thing for our bad times.

  4. School funding = State funding
    Bonds in Question = City Funding

    Nimby

  5. Every single blog or article against this stadium has to go the guilt-by-association route to poison its readers’ attitude before actually discussing the merits.

    Makes me wonder what’s left of the case without it. I have to suspect not much.

  6. I can’t really help but agree with the commenters above. You really wrote about something that you have no grasp of.

    I don’t think it’s really necessary to reiterate what the above commenters are saying but I want to point out how you mentioned that staying in PGE would be the best move for the Beavers. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!?!?!?!?

    Last time I went to a Beavers game there were about 4,000 people there and it was terrible. Why would you want to keep a team in that stadium? Eventually, like every other incarnation of the Beavers, they will leave for a city that has a stadium built for AAA baseball where they can be financially successful. If we stand pat eventually both the Timbers and Beavers will leave. Then who is going to rent PGE? Seriously?

    For $85 million we get two stadiums and a renter. The latest estimate for building a soccer specific stadium is $140 million and a MLB field would be around $400-$500 million.

    Please educate yourself about something before you start yelling about potholes and school funding. Jebus…the money they’re going to use can’t even be spent on potholes or school funding.

  7. Teh Stupid! It burns!

    It never fails to amaze me that people continue to opine with authority on something they know absolutely nothing about.

  8. Yes! Yes! Yes! to MLS.

    Fortunately this is funded by revenue backed bonds, not taxpayer subsidy! Whew! So it’s pretty cool to think that we could have improvements to our publicly owned PGE Park and get higher profile sporting events and more exposure for Portland as a city. All without risk of bond default (since the bonds are being guaranteed by Paulson), and at no net cost to taxpayers!

    When we’re not spending any tax dollars or assuming any risk for all these great benefit, I can’t imagine what more I could want as a taxpayer.

    • Wow! Are people in Portland this stupid? Or just have the wool pulled over thier eyes so much that they can’t see when they are getting screwed. OF COURSE it’s taxpayer money that is wanted, not needed, wanted to fund these facilities. Kudos to anyone on this page that gets it, and for the love of anything, trying to save you from shelling out any more hard earned money than you already do, for a sports franchise or new facilities. Get a clue people.
      This is direct from Paulson’s mouth

      “During tough economic times, some will question investing public resources in sports. But this is about far more than soccer or baseball. It’s about putting people back to work now and economic development tomorrow. It’s about leveraging at least $40 million of immediate private money. It’s about creating new civic gathering places and public investments that enrich our quality of life. And it’s about 1 million people each year, coming together, and building our economy and community.”

      Don’t you have an empty Rose Garden? How about leveraging an NHL franchise to an already exsisting facility and let Paulson pay for the whole thing?


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