After being burned for millions in the previous PGE Park renovation debacle, a task force charged with charting the future of the facility and a new Portland Beavers ballpark says it wants to see owner Merritt Paulson assume some responsibility for any potential financial issues.After being burned for millions in the previous PGE Park renovation debacle, a task force charged with charting the future of the facility and a new Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) ballpark says it wants to see owner Merritt Paulson assume some responsibility for any potential financial issues.
Paulson, the owner of the Beavers and soccer’s Portland Timbers, wants to see PGE Park renovated to a soccer-only facility and a new ballpark built for the Bevos, a plan that will cost at least $85 million. He’s proposing it be repaid with increased rent and sales-tax revenues generated by the facilities.
That’s all well and good, but those with a sense of history remember when PGE Park was last renovated for Portland Family Entertainment and a new iteration of the Beavers. That mess spectacularly, leaving the city and the Pacific Coast League to pick up the mess. In fact, the city is still paying off bonds associated with the renovation.
So the task force is a little skeptical about the plan proposed by Paulson; if revenues fail to meet expectations, then someone will need to make up the difference — and under Paulson’s plan the responsibility falls to taxpayers. The task force says they want Paulson and his minority investor, Henry Paulson — the former Goldman Sachs chairman and Treasury Secretary — to back some of the debt.
The task force met yesterday, and the consensus as described to us was they they’d agree to the plan as long as Paulson stepped up to protect taxpayers. Whether this will happen remains to be seen, but we’re guessing Paulson will need to do so if he wants new facilities. Of course, it may be moot: with Ottawa and Miami poised to land MLS expansion franchises, a renovation of PGE Park may end up being unnecessary after all.
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