Yes. Yes. And Yes again.
Guaranteed Bonds? Development of an additional baseball stadium in a part of the city that could use the attendence? International connections?
Sign me up. Why are we debating this?
The City of Portland should focus its limited resources and attention to fix infrastructure and social issues. I've not been able to get the city to come and fix a depression along the curb where my driveway meets the street. The city that works for me left a rain-gathering depression after they paved.
What could Portland gain from MLS soccer? How much in revenues and costs do the Blazers provide and impose on Portland?
Those who want professional soccer should pay for it. I would prefer that Portland did not have professional football, soccer or baseball. But I'm not oppossed to these luxuries if they and are funded privately.
Deep-pocketed entrepreneurs can take the risk and earn the rewards as long as they pay their fair share of taxes to keep Portland clean and green.
The city should execute infrastructure and social service responsibilities. The city should guide the location and development of privately held venues in a manner that makes sense with respect to the city's long-term plan.
While I appreciate your concern about the curb outside your house we are talking about two distinct pots of money here.
The bonds that would be used to remodel PGE Park are backed by the Facilities and Spectator Fund. This fund is used to run and operate city owned spectator facilities like the Memorial Coliseum and PGE Park.
It also takes in revenue from parking at the Rose Garden, hotel taxes, rental car taxes and surcharges on tickets sold at city owned facilities like PGE Park.
Which brings me to point #2. Paulson is asking for bonds to be paid back through rent and ticket surcharges because we the people own PGE Park. He is already investing $40 million of his own money to purchase the team. If we asked him to invest $35 million to remodel PGE Park then obviously he would want a return on that investment in the form of equity ownership in the property. The city has no interest in that.
Which brings me to my final point. Paulson has guaranteed the paying back of these bonds with his family's personal wealth. There is zero risk to the taxpayer.
Thanks for bringing me up to speed on the different money pots, Finn. If there's absolutely no risk that those who don't wish to support soccer won't end up paying for it then I remove my protest. I hope soccer fan will rise to the occassion and support their team.
I was busy while listening to the show so I wasn't paying close attention. Were bad and worst case scenarios addressed? I'm sure Paulson's not in business to lose money, but I'd be annoyed if this soccer pitch (get it?) is based on pie-in-the-sky numbers.
Zero risk? Sorry, I don't believe in such a thing. I'll accept that the risk is minimal if Paulson guarantees repayment with tangible collateral instead of ephimeral equities.
Silly Alternate Take
Portland might be more interesting if it had professional football, baseball, soccer and kite fighting, but I don't want to pay for these non-necessities through taxation. Give me a choice - don't impose a tax - or use my tax dollars to pay for luxury things while Rome burns.
I'd prefer we spend limited resources making sure people had jobs, food, education and opportunities to better themselves. Once we take care of the base challenges I'll be more amenable to stadiums where lions and tigers play tug-of-war with urban gladiators.
I enjoy watching the Olympics and world cup soccer every four years. Cricket and a spot of tea, anyone?
The funds for the refurbishing of PGE park and building the baseball stadium will not come from the General Fund. So asking for those funds to be spent on infrastructure and or social services does not make sense.
The revenue streams that would pay the bonds don't exist without the new stadium, such as ticket taxes and player salary taxes. They do not touch any money from the general fund. There are no schools, roads, police, fire, or parks, that are hurt by this.
PGE park is owned by the city. Paulson and the Timbers pay rent. Would you as a renter pay to put in another bedroom in a house you rent? That is the owners responsibility. That is why the city has to support this and Paulson can't do it on his own. Paulson is personally backing the bonds. There is very little risk to the city. 650 new construction jobs are created by this and 300 positions remain after the new parks open.
A revitalized Rose Quarter or Lents district would be an added benefit of a new stadium for the Beavers. Both areas desperately need some city attention to make full use of their potential. Look to Memorial Colosseum for what can happen if a city owned facility falls out of use. That is a distinct possibility for PGE park. So there is risk in standing pat.
16,000 fans is a very conservative estimate for average attendance. That is a lot of people spending money downtown, drinks and food before, drinks after. Hotels for visiting fans. There are tons of revenue streams that benefit many people that don't exist without this. Now is the time to create new streams of money not rely on those that already exist in an economy so volatile. Paulson has shown to support local youth sports and other charities, his giving can only go up with a successful franchise. Don't let this opportunity slip away.
I enjoy a spot of tea as much as the next guy, but as my fellow colleagues pointed out, the MLS proposal isn't touching the limited resources that Portland has. I don't think many of us soccer fans would sit by and watch money be taken from basic needs just to build a soccer stadium, which is why this idea works.
The money comes from the bonds issued by the city, backed by Paulson, and paid for through the Spectator fund (dedicated fund where stadium revenues are put from ticket sales), plus other streams like merchandise sales, television contracts, and taxes on player salaries. The bonds are backed by Mr. Paulson in exchange for making the upgrades to a city owned facility, and for building a new home for the Portland Beavers. This is a great urban renewal project, bringing jobs here. And with an improved tax base with improved stadiums, this could help fund schools and other basic services.
And apparently, you haven't been to a Timbers game before. The lions only come up later after the game to scare away stragglers.
now there's an idea: putting in a few cricket pitches in Portland Parks, and maybe some ajacent gazebos for tea service.
That's so much more refined than "football hooliganisim".
Whether or not you love soccer or sports in general, Major League Soccer in Portland makes sense. The city has a rich history with the sport, and has shown that the community and interest is there. Investing in something like this is exactly what our city needs during difficult economic times: it creates good, local jobs and there is zero risk to taxpayers. Zero! Merritt Paulson has put his personal wealth on the line to back every cent the city invests. Try finding that kind of guaranteed return anywhere else in ther market today.
This is just the investment for these hard times. It will generate prevailing wage jobs in construction, and "fair wage" jobs at the stduims per the recomendation of the Task Force.
Bonds being repaid with ticket surcharges makes this a good deal. We will have a major league team that is paid by the people who go to the games. Win, win situation.
I am a Timbers fan, and I want my team to be in the top league in the country.
If this deal is actually guaranteed by Merritt Paulson's family, as he has stated on multiple occasions now, then I see no reason it shouldn't happen.
If the only argument you have against it is that you don't like sports, well fair enough but that's not much of an argument. Lots of my tax dollars go toward things in which I have no personal interest. I've never been to the Oregon Zoo, but I know some people like it. I don't have children, but plenty of people do. And I'm happy to have my taxes pay for schools, the zoo, etc.
My point is: there's no accounting for taste, thank god. Nobody's forcing anybody to go to the zoo, or take the bus, or go to Timbers or Blazers games, or anything. You don't like something? Don't do it. If this isn't hurting the city, then your argument is reduced to petulant whining.
Thankfully it's a big enough town we can all do our own thing.
PORTLAND TIMBERS, here we go. *boom boom*
In this economic situation Portland needs smart, inovative investments, this is one of them. Few people are bring such a good proposal for Portland's bond dollars, we would be foolish to let this opportunity slip by. Let's show the world Portland IS a major league city.
This response may seem off-subject, but here it goes. Could showing the world Portland is a major league city by earning it through a soccer league structure similar to those leagues in Europe? In those leagues poorest performing teams are relegated to a lower league, and the best performing teams from lower leagues are given the chance to compete in the top leagues. That way teams in the USL could perform in MLS if they are worthy.
The current USL-Timbers bring an economic impact to the stadium area; one just needs to ask the Owners of the Bitter End pub or Marathon Taverna to see what kind of impact is felt game day. With a current average attendance of over 8,000, we'll be gaining at least twice the amount of people attending the area on an average game day; and twice the amount of money coming into the area.
I traveled to Columbus, OH in February to attend the US Mens National Team versus Mexico World Cup Qualifier. The local economy saw a huge boost in revenue in the form of packed hotels and busy bars and restuarants. This is money that the cities businesses would not have seen otherwise (not many people travel to Columbus, OH in February for vacations). An upgraded PGE will most definitely bring higher profile matches, such as National Teams and International Friendlies, further increasing the amount of economic impact that we would see with simply gaining an MLS team.
The stability of the current USL structure must also be called into question. With teams folding in recent years (such as the California Victory, Atlanta and Seattle) with the potential for other teams on their way out (Miami), its a matter of Portland going MLS, or potentially having nothing. MLS is much more financially sound, thanks to sponsorships and television deals with ESPN and FSC, that putting money into that franchise makes more sense than throwing money into the sinking ship of USL.
Portland is a soccer town and has all the essentials needed to make this a fantastic franchise. We have a soccer legacy in organizations such as UP womans team, we have Adidas North American HQ. Adidas is synonomous with soccer. We have a vibrant down town where people actually live and we have a rail infrastructure that can feed into a ball park. We have Nike which wants to increase its soccer presence globally and we have a dedicated loyal fan base. The most important thing about sports however is the spectacle of the game, thats what drives the bus and to do it right you must have a GRASS field. You cannot play a finesse and controlled beautiful game on artificial turf because the ball rolls too fast and bounces too much and it becomes a different game. Make it a grass field and they will come. An intimate park that allows you to get close to the sidelines , have a pint and watch top level players on real grass and you have a combo that cannot fail.
Hilarious! Here you go again! LOL! PDX will never learn; but then ya'll need a distraction! "Portland is the unhappiest city in America, according to a ranking published in Business Week."
If Portland can't get MLS what chance does it have of ever getting MLB/NFL/NHL.Who in their right mind is gonna come in here with the hundreds of millions needed for those other leagues?
Nike and Adidas premiere teams (Man U, BArca, Celtic Chelsea, etc.) frequently stop in Portland for training sessions/gear fitting while they tour the US for pre-season friendlies, but then they go off to other cities and appear in very lucrative matches.
When Vancouver gets its team, if we don't have a stadium, we will lose the Timbers. No minor league team can sustain itself if its nearest rivals are 1000-plus miles away. Then what?
More people in Europe know who the LA Galaxy are than the Portland Trail Blazers. Yes, Mr Beckham is largly responsible for that but also the Seattle Sounders are sure to have a large TV audience in Sweden with Freddy Lundburg their Countries biggest Soccer star.
There is a contingent of fans from the Chicago fire MLS team flying to Portland to check out the famous authentic soccer atmophere we have become known for around the world. Then along with a larger contingent of Portland Timbers fans will head upto Seattle to spend our Dollars heckling the Seattle sounders new MLS team.
Chelsea, one of the top soccer teams in the World will be playing Seattle in Seattle. This will sell out and bring huge revenues to the Seattle area. I have traveled to Seattle many times to see international soccer games over the years. If PGE park was converted into Soccer specific Stadium we would get those teams also. We are missing out on lots of out of state Dollars.
I understand there are concerns about using taxes to fund private enterprise, but the truth is this is really about public funds funding public enterprise. PGE belongs to the city of Portland, and if they don't put money into the stadium they could have another Memorial Coliseum on their hands (which is costing the city money (i.e. tax payer money). The great thing is now there is at least a good reason to invest in the stadium. A better stadium could potentially bring in more revenue from sporting events, rent, and tourism.
Personally, I do not care for spectator sports that much, but I support soccer because taste and intelligence need not be legislated. If soccer doesn't cost tax dollars, lets have cultural diversity; eco expos, star trek conventions, electric car shows, etc. Soccer fans are not likely to contribute to society in mass exclusively, but they are not likely to cause more problems than they could solve and soccer could attract some people that contribute to the economy across the board. They would need to do something in order to have cash to purchase tickets.
Perhaps the tickets could include a refundable deposit of a few dollars that get refunded to the spectators if no spectator incidence that destroy property are reported. Perhaps temporary surveillance cameras could be deployed that would indicate how any destruction occurred around in the vacinity of the fans before during and after the games. I like the fans that dress crazy and run around screaming, as long as I can get away from them. Sellers of housing that is effected by lots of fans should be required to notify prospective residents of any possible problems before tenants spend much time inquiring about such housing.
Anyone that doesn't understand the attraction some have to sporting events my wish to look at the beginning of a book titled The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. This book explains a little bit about those not attracted to sporting events as well (Hi!) before page 10, as I recall.
Any facilities built for soccer could be built with the latest green technology so that Portland (or where ever) can showcase this technology to the everyone. Lets include and celebrate every one!
a city investment in major league soccer doesnt make sense for the long or short term.
our local economy would benefit from participatory, not specator sports. (remember when city leaders were debating turning the memorial coliseum into a city gym/playground?) participatory sporting experiences draw creatives to our city, and in turn create real jobs in the creative economy; the jobs generated by an investment in major league spectator sports-- restaurants, bars, etc that emerge to serve the spectators-- are service industry jobs. drawing creatives to our region should be a primary objective for job creators who use public funds.
in the short term, the proposal should be thought of as public subsidy of a corporation-- a very lucrative corporation. perhaps we could start to consider using public money if admission to these sporting events is free of charge. if citizens are paying for it, they shouldnt have to pay twice.
finally, our public dollars will determine the culture we create here. imagine if, for a building once proudly called civic stadium, this public money went not toward manifestations of competition, but of cooperation.
There is so much fear based information and just badly informed people commenting on this topic.
I really hope your show today can put some of these to rest but I doubt it as the poor "Tax Payers" argument keeps getting brought up.
The previous owners of the Portland Beavers and Portland Timbers PFE went out of business after putting alot of thier own money into the upgrades of PGE park, a publically owned property. The upgrades were needed by the citys own standards and rules. ADA accessability and Sismic upgrades.
This plan helps to realize the potential of PGE Park and the Rose Quarter. MLS is a growing league, and a perfect fit for our growing city.
Love to have a MLS soccer team in town ( I am German and miss good soccer). BUT, tax dollars for getting this team set up: NO WAY, we are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and spending tax dollars for such an enterprise would be irresponsible. If a private business model can get the team into town, GREAT, if not and tax dollars are needed, forget it.
There are no general taxes used for this as stated above. It is all from tax streams that don't exist without this. The reason that this can't be a private enterprise is that this is a PUBLICLY OWNED building. Paulson just rents the space. The city wont sell the property. So the city has to use publicly issued bonds to improve it. Paulson's family will personally back the bonds though. There is almost no risk to this. People are assuming things that just aren't true about this project.
First, this from scathing "Market Place Morning Report" right here on OPB which accuses MLS of "overinflating" David Beckham's "salary"
The same report also gives us an insiders peek into the dysfunction and false hype coming out of MLS.
David Beckham, IS MLS. He is the insider's insider.
He wants to leave MLS.
Listen to the report.
Basically Beckham is calling MLS small potatoes.
Beckham is using pretty strong language and sending us a very clear message ... don't trust Major League Soccer.
That said, "Soccer City U.S.A." is a misnomer created by former members of the Bush/Paulson multi-million dollar marketing team.
Google "soccer city usa" and look carefully at the dates listed on your search results.
Hmmmm, 2008 and 2009.
Just about when the Henry Paulson and Merritt Paulson plan was hatched.
In fact, on some result sites ... like the one at the top of the page ... you'll see no dates at all.
Why is it the first result?
Page hits can be generated with software programs designed to "hit" that page (like robo-calling) over and over to move it to the top of Google search results.
Need more proof?
Portland does not have a professional soccer team.
It's curious then that we're "soccer city usa"?
That's like claiming that Portland is "baseball city usa" because we have the Beavers.
Let's talk about "job creation".
Laws prohibit Portland from protectionism.
The city council can not guarantee that ANY jobs created by construction be given to Portlanders, or even Oregonians.
The same thing goes for the minimum wage, part time, summer jobs that will be "created".
This means, for example, that someone from Vancouver can compete and apply for any job and offer to do that job at a smaller salary.
Portland does have a professional soccer team. It plays in the USL 1.
The appelation "Socer City USA" dates back to NASL days.
Beckham leaving has more to do with AC Milan needing a free kick specialist and Beckham wanting to break the cap record than it does with the MLS.
Portland has a professional soccer team. It is named the Portland Timbers. They are paid soccer players, who have gone on to play for teams in MLS, tried out with European premiership teams, and been recruited at the national and international levels.
Your assertion that Soccer City USA is a new 'marketing scheme' by anyone only shows that you're new to this conversation and not familiar with the history of the team and the sport in this city.
Study up and get back to us:
Plllleeeeeaaasssse. We have failing schools, potholed streets, a growing homeless population and you want to give money so sport-loving people can be happy???? With the millions that would be spent, a lot of affordable housing could be built. And David Beckham ditched that LA soccer team for a team in Spain as soon as he could -- great model.
Can someone please ask Mr. Glasgow if he thinks there should be $210 Million in publicly backed bonds for the convention center hotel? And what is his role in the Convention Center Hotel?
This guy has a second agenda. Ask him about it.
As the commentor said at the opening of the show, this isn't exactly the time to be proposing spending public revenue on luxury type things, which is akin to what this is.
If Portland is to be providing funding for a sports complex, then I'd assume that it would also be sharing in the revenues.
What is the proposed revenue split between Portland and Owners?
Public financing should only be reasonable when public revenue is equally a significant portion of the equation.
Jerral - Portland gets revenue from a percentage of ticket sales and base rent. This goes into the spectator fund that would then pay the proposed bonds. If the team does better than expected, the spectator fund will be overfilled - beyond what's needed to repay the bonds.
Here's the cautionary tale: Rochester, NY
City sponsored and bonded soccer that was sold with the same arguments as this, and FAILED. Sponsors made a lot of money and left the city holding the bag and an empty stadium in a tough neighborhood.
Problem is that the financials are based on best expectations and negate the risk cost of achiving revenue levels needed to break even.
Point is that if break even is 10,000 average, you need to plan for and market for 15,000 to 20,000 to assure breakeven. Breakeven is a lousy measure - use net present value with pesimistic timing instead.
Soccor and other amusments need to be a byproduct of prosperity; they cannot drive prosperity!
The only jobs "created" are for the owners of the club! The rest are temporary (construction) or part time (Vendors, Custodial).
To be forewarned is to be Fore-armed!
R. Eckel - resident of Rochester working in Portland
(Eckel is pronounced like Heckel and Jeckel without the "H" or "J")
Rochester is still in the USL, not MLS. The MLS will mean matches on TV, advertising and more recognition nationwide.
I am absolutely opposed to pay for soccer team here when we coulnd't even get behind bring a hockey team here. Hockey would have had a larger audience base, where as soccer I feel, would dwindle and become a troubled team with lots of no show.
True enough. The best IMMEDIATE fit for Portland is NHL.
Nobody is talking about the Beavers. The fact is, PGE park is a terrible place to watch baseball. Even though Portland is a larger market, it draws less fans than most AAA cities. This is because PGE is too big, and too cold to provide a decent fan experience. A smaller, more intimate park on the East Side will actually draw more fans from the suburbs. Although Soccer does well with urban fans, a new baseball park will draw fans to Portland from Clark, Washington, and Clackamas Counties.
Two things I don't understand: Why do you need public investment if Paulson is going to guarantee the bonds? And if this public assist to the financing is no risk and no cost to taxpayers, as Paulson claims, what is the reluctance of the government to participate?
Please ask Mr. Paulson and Mr. Masur the following:
Mr. Paulson has been making some big promises about the creation of new jobs from this project. Why didn't the city do an independent study done to verify these job creation projections? Why didn't the task force ask any questions about these numbers?
Secondly, since this project is being paid for by funds earmarked for economic development, the question shouldn't be "Is there some economic development?" The question should be "Is there more economic development from this than from another project the city could do?"
Please ask Mr. Masur why no comparisons were made between projected economic development from this project versus economic development from any other $85M outlay?
The city hired an independent economic auditor to give a report to the Task Force. He verified the numbers.
No independent assessment was made of the economic benefit study. You're referring to the consultant who looked at the Timbers sources and uses projections, which are a different thing.
You can go play and let the grownups talk now.
Likely due to the success and skill of the Portland Pilots womens' team my guess is that a womens' professional league would do better in Portland than a mens' league.
I love soccer, but too much of mens' soccer consists of holding, fighting, illegal tackles, and whining. Womens' soccer, on the other hand, is a game of beauty and skill.
Clearly, just look at the success of the WNBA and the first Womens Professional soccer league
Basketball isn't soccer.
And let's look at the success of mens professional soccer if we want to go that way.
How much do womens soccer players make relative to mens?
And I'm talking Portland, not Columbus, L.A., etc.
I live near PGE Park. For me, MLS means more traffic, less parking, more rowdy people - and I say BRING IT ON!!! We love going to games with our kids - it brings the whole community together in a way nothing else, except maybe the Blazers or Bridge Pedal, can! And despite the naysayers, a pro-soccer team will consistently pack the park, something we need in this neighborhood!! Go for it Merritt - We can't wait!
What part of NO do $ports NOT UNDERSTAND ?
NO to NFL Stadium - 15 years ago
NO to Major League Base Ball (Katz) Stadium 5 years ago
Let them put up and run their own show, with OUT the Taxpayers. Paul Allen runs his OWN Blazers ! GREAT
He pays payroll, maintains HIS Stadium, WITHOUT Taxpayer HELP.
He makes profit / loss. HE is only one involved, as it SHOULD BE.
ITS HIS BUSINESS - LIKE ALL THE OTHER BUSINESSES.
Look at Montral Canada - City NOW owns a dirlect MT Stadium / losses and the team moved.
Uh, really, so I suppose you failed to mention the $30 to $40 million dollar investment the city made to help the Rose Garden get built, for infrastructure. Yes, he pays his taxes, but he also called the "economic model" here broken and put the team up for sale when he tried to get better terms for the stadium deal he financed.
I would never advocate building a stadium versus paying for schools or roads directly, but I also understand that it's important that teams and cities work together to address stadium needs. This way, the situation protects both sides, as we are talking here about a CITY asset (PGE Park) that they don't want to sell but their rentor (Paulson) wants to refurbish to bring in MLS and other events.
And I suppose you find no real benefit to having sports in town at all? There are plenty of other Portland residents that realize the benefit here.
Question for Mr. Paulson:
Since the proposed new PGE Park MLS version would be city property, would he and MLS be opposed to an MLL team (or other sport) being placed in the stadium?
Open question: show us the real true numbers of MLS teams add to their city in the rest of the country? How about Fort Worth? Are all MLS teams profitable?
Next: to the poster who mentioned if we can’t get an MLS what chance would we have to getting an NFL/MLB/NHL – makes no difference. No disrespect to the many Timbers Army fans I know are on here, but MLS is still a bit of a fringe sport and cannot compare to the NFL. ANY city in America would love to have an NFL team. With the TV deals, merchandising and profit share every NFL team is profitable.
NHL we already have a stadium build perfectly for hockey.
MLB – there is the rub. If the new Beavers stadium isn’t built with the plan of expansion to MLB that becomes a problem, and lessens the chance of eventually getting a MLB team.
Lastly: Portland compares very well with Denver, CO which has: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NLL, MLS and even some minor league teams like AFL. So far Denver’s teams have been highly successful and profitable, ADDING to the city coffers.
So Think Out Loud got a guy who is against this plan who isn't against spending $400 million on a baseball stadium. That makes sense.
Can you please ask Mr. Glasgow what his role is in the convention center hotel project and whether he thinks $210 million in taxpayer backed bonds for a hotel is good use of public dollars?
What is his role in that effort?
Mr. Glasgow is opposed to this project because he sees a baseball stadium at the Rose Quarter threatening his clients who are advocating for the Convention Center Hotel.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Call him on this.
Portland is already on its way out... . Most of the intelligence of the culture has been so watered down over the past ten years, perhaps there isn't much left to save. Competitive sports are for mediocrity, so if we want Portland to get ever more average bring 'em on.
After the debacle with the tram to OHSU, why would anyone believe our city council when they tell us that a project will "only" cost any given number at all?
If there are really funds sitting around that are "not available for schools" ... they should be appropriated.
The public dollars are simply not available for sports stadiums at this time.
Merritt is likely to have to have a cost celing with the contractors. ie: price can't exede ??? dollars
To some of the commenters & callers who are saying that we should not be spending money on sports when we need money in schools, streets, etc:
Please review the task force recommendation and note that the public funds for this endeavor are not coming from the general fund or any fund that can be used for education, transportation, or other uses. They are identified only from the Urban Renewal and Spectator Funds. In no way will this proposal impact the spending on schools & other public projects, except perhaps to benefit them. Remember, the city of Portland owns PGE Park. With improvements for MLS, they can charge higher rent, which goes back into their coffers.
The entire task force report is available online:
Mr. Masur is wrong to suggest that urban renewal funds can't be used for schools or other public programs. Since this project assumes that the definitions of "blight" and "economic development" can be stretched to include a downtown soccer stadium, they can be stretched to mean anything, including schools, police, and everything else the city funds.
Portland is a soccer town, Major League Baseball will never work here, in Beaverton maybe, but not in the city center. Look at the excitement and fan loyalty generated by the Timbers, versus the Beavers. Does this fellow expect to bring an English Premiership or German Bundesliga side to Portland? MLS may not be the pinnacle of soccer worldwide, but in the US and Canada it's the best we're going to get. Let's get it while we have the chance.
I'm agnostic on the question of this particular financing model for an MLS franchise, but as a journalist who's been writing about the game for years, I wanted to take issue with comments on the sport's "marginal" status in the US. This is a matter of perspective.
The US has hosted three successful World Cup tournaments (two for women, one for men) and is a very healthy television market for competitions around the world. (The New York Times reported last year, for example, that 800,000 viewers in NYC alone watched a Latin American tournament game.) World Cup games now draw US television audiences as large or larger than many World Series games. Major European and Latin American clubs now view the US and Canada as an important emerging market.
Major League Soccer, while not on the level of the top four or five European leagues, is certainly as well-organized and -supported as most national leagues around the world. It would also seem to be perhaps the fastest-growing soccer league in the world. MLS clubs compete in international tournaments against top-tier clubs in Mexico and elsewhere, tournaments that are part of the sport's world-championship structure. It is perfectly possible that an MLS team could play a meaningful match against a Manchester United or Real Madrid in the future.
Does the MLS make more money and garner the same level of interest and media coverage as the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL?
I am a devoted member of the Timbers Army and am fundamentally opposed to Paulson's plan. Aside from the financial burden on Portland, I foresee the game being compromised by increased advertising within the stadium, more loudspeaker announcements, more junk give-aways and more unsightly billboard advertising around the city. Since Paulson took over the team, there has already been an increase in distractions during game time.
Minor league sports are more pleasing to watch without all of the grandstanding and hype. Please take your plans to another city, Mr. Paulson.
So I suppose you have no concerns about the long term stability of the USL and even having a league to play in, based on the situation in California, Miami, Virginia Beach, Calgary, Edmonton, losing Seattle as a rival directly from the USL and now potentially losing our other West Coast rival in Vancouver. Look, I get people that don't want things to change because they are good now, but you have to ask yourself if you are satisfied with the status quo or are there enough questions about how things are to make a change.
Take the stadium funding out of the question, and simply ask yourself "Do you think the USL will have a Division 1 presence in 5 years from now?" I believe that answer to be no, and I also feel that we will support MLS fabulously.
And yes, I'm a die hard TA member as well, and while I get annoyed at the t-shirt hucking, loud speaker blabbing, I realize that the game atmosphere needs to be tailored to all fans, not just TA, and most of the time, I'm too busy chanting or watching the match to notice what's going on.
No freaking way. No money for this. And no I don't believe that the city would not be at risk. Cities always get left holding the bag.
Show me one single stadium deal where a city wasn't left with the bill.
Here's a way to make sure that the city is not exposed to risk: how about this thing is funded completely by private financing.
And if you can name any stadium for a top 5 sport (MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLS) in the US that has been built completely with private money within the past 20 years, I'd love to hear it because it hasn't happened in a while.
The risk here is minimal, and by having the city and the team work together to come up with a plan, you ensure the teams are here for a long time with a deal that benefits both sides.
> And if you can name any stadium for a
> top 5 sport (MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL, and
> MLS) in the US that has been built
> completely with private money within the
> past 20 years, I'd love to hear it
> because it hasn't happened in a while.
Why should they when they can get the taxpayers to pay for their facilities?
If sports franchises can't make it without a handout from the taxpayer, maybe they aren't really viable businesses. Or maybe if sports teams weren't on the dole they might have to pay their players and coaches a little less.
In today's situation when we're talking about laying teachers off because of budget shortfalls it's pretty freaking nervy to ask for a handout from the taxpayers to fund a private business venture.
It's not a handout, and I'm not playing semantics here. A handout is something that is given where there's no expectations for it being paid back, and the receiving party isn't expected to do anything.
This situation is a partnership and an investment in refurbishing a stadium and building a new one for a baseball team. Sports are indeed a viable business, as long as the terms and conditions of the market and agreements with all the parties make sense. Granted, there are very few places where perfect economic conditions exist outside a vaccuum, but when it works, it works well to bring dollars to a community, visitors to events, and bring pride and a sense of ownership to the residents. Some cities have been held hostage in stadium negotiations, but I believe that in this case, both the city and Mr. Paulson are negotiating a deal that works on both sides, which can be a give and take process.
Besides, of all the major sports, MLS salaries are probably the most reasonable if you simply looked at the numbers. If you are a player not named Beckham, most players are making less than $100,000, and in most cases, it's even more in the $25,000 to $30,000 range. MLS keeps salaries in check as much as possible to keep issues like what other leagues suffer with salaries.
and besides, this endeavor is using public funds to refurbish a public facility that is being used by a private party who is bearing much of the risk, and the benefits are for everyone in the city that comes to PGE Park and enjoys sports, concerts, and other events.
NFL NFL, the only professional sports league due to revenue sharing that makes any sense in a small market like Portland. Green Bay has 150000 people and still has a winning team.
WHO CARES whether it creates jobs. Lots of things create jobs, prostitution, Walmart. So what? It is a business, one would assume it would create jobs---unless it is all robots.
Urban renewal? There is nothing renewing about competitive boorish sports---more food for the monkeys.
Why do you have such hate for sports? I mean no disrespect, but did you have a bad experience? All great cities must have spectator sports, it does not denigrate the city nor the fans. It doesn't lower intelligence it provides entertainment and passion for the city. Your continual put downs of sports and sports fans lowers the perception of your intelligence level.
Yes, competitive sports are for cretins. There is nothing noble about them. Great cities don't require competitive sports. Yes, the kind of people that find entertainment or devote their time to being fans of a 'team' are not people I want anything to do with---rats in a wheel.
About my intelligence, I'm an idiot and a fool---and it changes nothing I said.
Then I feel sorry for you. Humans have participated in sports since ancient times, from the Greeks to the Mayans, China to Hawaii. There is a reason for that.
Oh, is that your litmus test---it's age-old? Humans have done a lot of things, gee---religion, war, ruining the planet (and each other) for ages.
Did you know that 'cretin' is a racist epithet? You sure aren't helping the planet any by spreading your awful brand of racism, scottmil. Noble, indeed.
Sorry---'cretin' is definitely not a racist epithet. What exactly am I spreading?
Funny post, considering fans are essentially the equivalent of racists, one team over the other.
Hear, hear, like the caller just said, get rid of the Beavers. Fine by me. Bring on the MLS.
sorry. When I hear financial guys trying to guarantee a "sure thing" I have to believe that they are either lying or selling.
This is a ridiculous project to ask for public funds in this climate.
Economic benefit is a losing argument. Perhaps short-term stimulus in terms of construction, but nothing sustainable. Long-term economic benefit is very suspect. Job creation does not offset job loss to other recreational prusuits that the team draws peoople away from. Even the big four sports can't prove economic benefit conclusively.
This is a quality of life issue. I'd love to see a pro soccer team in Portland. Because I live in Bend, I would be very appreciative of the people of Portland for paying for it.
I have a dream!! That dream is 20,000 people packed into PGE on a warm June night putting the hurt on the Seattle Flounders.
Dear City Council, please make this happen! MLS and Portland is a match made in heaven despite what all of the do nothing ever crowd has to say about it.
Mr. Masur's comments comparing any taxpayer risk to the risk of wall street credit default swaps - Sir, you can do better than buzzword alarmist rhetoric.
Perhaps if AIG's managers had put their personal wealth on the line and had money in the bank to back those CDSs - like Mr. Paulson is doing with his family's personal wealth to back the city bonds - this would be a fair comparison. But it is not, at all, and you know that.
Let's debate the actual merits here, instead of stirring up general economic fear with no rational basis.
This seems like a total waste of money, there isn't the interest to sustain it in Portland. There are dozens of things that money could be spent on (especially in this economy) that will bring GOOD jobs, not huge salaries and menial labor jobs to the area. Where is the money to support the team come from? From the local community right. I no reason to bring a money drain like professional sports to the city I also have no interest in seeing my tax dollars go into it.
Rory, are you serious? Have you looked at attendance figures for USL? I will save you the time and remind you that Portland is always at the top even when the team was at the bottom. Attendance for the Timbers has grown every year. Portland always turns out for high level soccer. Are you aware that thousands crowded the square for the World Cup Final on a big screen? Approximately 20,000 packed PGE for Women's World Cup qualifying matches. More than 15,000 fans attended the friendly against Sunderland in 05'. Thousands of kids in the community play and love this game including my daughter who also attends games regularly. Crowds like I just mentioned will be commonplace with MLS matches. You don't seem to know the city very well.
Just what we need, another sport filled with bad example millionaires performing poorly. Why not let the wealthy players and owners foot the bill (without any guarantee of success)? Isn't that what 'business' is about?
OPB, do your job. Call Glasgow out for his conflict of interest concerning how a baseball stadium interferes with his plans for a convention center hotel.
Portland has the tenth best roller derby league in the nation; as part of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. This is a do-it-yourself organization that started with nothing and had zero assistance from the governement.
Do projected demographic trends for Portland bode well or ill for the interest in major league soccer? Are there groups--Europeans, Latin Americans, families with kids, etc.--that include disproportionate numbers of soccer fans and are growing in our area?
Can I just comment that Merritt sounds a lot like his father – very much like a politician? That is a bit worrisome, considering his dad is one of the people responsible for the current state of the economy.
Urabn renewal take tax money from all taxing districts within the city. For instance the Salen transit district lost over $200,000, and the Keizer fire district lost over $400,oo0 this year due to Urban renewal in Keizer. The school district would have lost money but the legislature pays the school district any money lost due to Urban renewal.
This show, and I'm not talking about this particular episode but the whole of Think Out Loud, is an embarrassment to OPB and public radio in general. Absolutely shameful.
Please bring back Performance Today!
REMEMBER THE K I N G D O M E.
Demolished before it was ever paid off. Re-inventing sports complexes that never get paid off just doesn't seem like good financial success.
If Mr. Paulson can back the bonds, why not just leas him the land build it himself. If he's a true beliver then he'll have no problem in getting the new stadium paid off.
The City of Portland owns the stadium. If you want Paulson to go off and build stadiums in the suburbs for his team with private financing than tell me what you would like us to to do with an empty historic 20,000 seat stadium in the heart of the city that we still owe money on?
Let me guess - more condos? Or maybe you want to turn it into a dog park?
No one is adressing the issue around the increased presence of hispanics in downtown area. They are the largest fan base for soccer. Yikes.
robinquivers, I think you should be the public voice of opposition to this plan.
It would be the decrease of people like you that I would rally behind. Yoohoo!
I'm quite sure you would rally behind gang shootings and increased crime.
Keep Major League Soccer out of Portland and it will solve all of our crime problems!
Join up today with the racist rhetoric! Is there anything more American than sweeping generalizations & discrimination against minorities?
Dangerous minoritys? In Portland! I shudder at the thought. Did you go to the Monarchas Morelia game last year? I did, and I lived!
I read through the blogs and many soccer fans claim there is no risk for the city and the tax payer. Right, just look at the current crisis, Lehman Brothers, AIG, City Group, the Big Three in Detroit. Nobody saw this coming, so why do we believe anybody who says in these times there is no risk????. If there is no rsik why doesn't any private entreprenuer stand up and give the 85 million??? Too much risk????
Merritt Paulson has agreed to back these bonds with his own family's resources (not backed by a corporation as in the old PFE deal, but his family). This means in the unlikely event this fails then the Paulson family is on the hook for the outstanding bonds. What part of this are you having trouble comprehending? Remember PGE Park is owned by the City so the bonds are an investment in THEIR property.
Nobody outside the timber army has made this claim. Merritt Paulson certainly hasn't, as anybody who listened to this broadcast would know.
And even if the ultimate deal has Paulson "guaranteeing" the bonds, there are still significant costs to the city's general fund in future budgets.
Will Glasgow made a very thoughtful comment today about the growth in future tax receipts within the URA being diverted to pay off these bonds in future years. He noted that these revenues would be going to the general fund if they weren't already committed to paying the stadium bonds.
This is a very basic issue that hasn't been addressed, and it makes a lie out of the task force's recommendation that there be no general fund impacts.
All the newfound public financing experts among the Timber Army don't seem to get this... their analysis of how bonds work seems to begin and end with "Me Want Soccer!"
Factotum aka Smiley - did you even listen to the program today? Merritt Paulson explicity stated that he would be guaranteeing his family's money on the bonds.
And Glascow? The only reason that guy was on was because he is shilling for his boss who will be developing and building the HQ Convention Center Hotel ($210 Million in taxpayer backed bonds) and is worried that the proposed RQ baseball site will draw bonding ability away from his site.
As for URA tax receipts being divereted from future general bond - well you can argue that against ANY URA. It's the whole point of creating URA's - spur development now based on future anticipated tax receipts. I would love to hear if Mr. Glascow is against URA tax receipts being diverted to pay for his HQ Hotel Project.
Factotum be careful, there are those who like this project who probably know alot more than you.
Merritt Paulson made that claim at the MLS Task Force meeting on February 24th and I know that is a recommendation of the Task Force. From what I have heard directly from Mr. Paulson and members of the Task Force is that the bonds being backed by the Paulson's is a deal breaker. My understanding is that the bonds will be paid off through the Sports Spectator Fund (lease revenue for the property + ticket tax I think). Factotum as a taxpayer how do you feel about a failed Timbers? If we don't move the team into MLS the odds of the team folding dramatically increase as Vancouver will undoubtedly get in and we would be the only club left on the west coast in an inferior and somewhat unstable league. Good luck paying off the outstanding bonds (which Mr. Paulson has been doing btw) that still exist from the Portland Family Entertainment deal if the Timbers die on the vine that is the United Soccer League.
I have yet to read a pro-soccer poster that does appear to understand the way urban renewal funding works. As I said, Mr. Glasgow gave a quite cogent statement of the real impact of this deal on future general funds. You were tuned out, apparently.
If Finnigan, as you claim, there are some really really smart people who do understand, they seem to be willing to avoid the subject. The rest, like you, seem disposed to keep on making the same uninformed statements.
Put in simple terms that even you might grasp: it is a fact that this deal will cost general fund dollars in future budget years. (Don't believe me? Call up Eric Johansen, the City's Debt Manager, at 503-823-6851. He'll be happy to confirm it for you.)
And PS, I don't know who this Smiley person is. If your assumption is that there's only one person in this city who doesn't agree with your childish ranting, you're wrong.
I love soccer and would enjoy having a stadium here. I think it would raise awareness to the beautiful game. I was rather surprised when I heard that they were planning to build a stadium, especially now during these times. I am all for it. I think it would be good for the cities soccer community. I see no reason for soccer not be a big sport in the U.S. It is already growing. I think it is a very realistic goal to say in the near future soccer will be a main sport here in the U.S. I dont know if its wise to jump into this, but if we do it piece by piece I think that the dream will finaly come true.
Max Walterscheid, age 12.
I can not believe that this conversation is occuring with the state of our public schools. The city needs to take a good hard look at what the priorities are. Do we value recreation over the social, emotional and mental well being of our children? If so, the project should proceed and the city leaders with have to live with their decision to put "recreation" above our children.
If not, perhaps a bond measure should be raised to address the multitude of problems facing our public schools consequently affecting our cities children adversely.
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