The Portland CIty Council voted by a 3-2 margin to move ahead with a new Portland Beavers ballpark and a renovation of PGE Park as a soccer-only facility, but in the process stripped $15 million in urban-development funds from their financial commitment.
The Portland CIty Council voted by a 3-2 margin to move ahead with a new Portland Beavers ballpark and a renovation of PGE Park as a soccer-only facility, but in the process stripped $15 million in urban-development funds from their financial commitment for the time being.
Beavers and Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson is proposing spending $88.8 million on the renovation of PGE Park as a soccer-only facility (at a cost of $33.7 million) and the construction of a new ballpark for the Bevos in the city’s Rose Quarter (at a cost of $55.1 million).
Under the broad measure passed by the CIty Council, Portland will lend Paulson $54.5 million toward the project: $31 million from the city’s so-called Spectator Fund, $18.5 million from city redevelopment funds and $5 million to be repaid via taxes on pro-soccer player salaries — down from the $88.8 million originally requested by Paulson. He and his minority investor, former Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs head Henry Paulson, will guarantee the $50 million in loans. In addition, Paulson will contribute an additional $12.5 million toward construction and to find another $11.8 million, which could include the player taxes if a proposal passes the State Legislature. Paulson also agreed to a 7 percent ticket surcharge used to repay the city and will cover all cost overruns past the first $2.5 million. And Paulson will bear all the costs of an MLS franchise, originally going for $40 million.
However, the agreement passed by the CIty Council now leaves a $15 million shortfall, and it’s unclear how it will be financed. After the dust settled, city officials said they’d be looking for money in the Portland budget to make up the shortfall, but there’s the chance Paulson will be asked to address that issue as well. Scaling back the scope of the projects may be one answer: a $55.1 million ballpark with no land costs (it will be built on city land) seems like a lot these days.
The approval, though important, is not binding: it’s a letter of intent that the city can walk away from at any point. In addition, the city council will have to explicitly agree to many steps along the way, such as the creation of an urban-redevelopment district and the actual selling of bonds.
RELATED STORIES: Paulson agrees to Portland’s financial demands; still may not be enough; Bevos ballpark plan runs into serious financial obstacles; Portland task force gives preliminary approval to new Bevos ballpark — with plenty of conditions; Portland ballpark discussion shifts to Rose Quarter; Decision on new Bevos ballpark location delayed; Will new ballpark fly in Lents?
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