What began as a plan for a new Portland Beavers ballpark has now grown to include a new entertainment district and more in the Rose District, with a price tag close to $300 million — not counting the cost of borrowing such a large sum of money, leading many in Portland to wonder about the feasibility of such an ambitious plan.
What began as a fairly limited proposed by Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson for new and renovated facilities has now mushroomed into a multifaceted redevelopment effort, with a price tag closing on $300 million — with only a fifth of the funding identified.
The current plan calls for a new Bevos ballpark ($55.5 million), a PGE renovation for MLS soccer ($33 million) and a new entertainment district next to the Rose Garden on the present Memorial Coliseum site (at least $200 million, according to city officials). That’s a major chunk of redevelopment.
One thing you need to understand about Portland: it is not a city that exactly opens its arms to developers. Depending on who you talk with, Portland is either a city that manages growth smartly or is control by utopains who impede progress at every turn. Yes, there have been some major redevelopment efforts in the city in recent years, but they’ve all come after long public debates.
So Mayor Sam Adams is certainly being bold in bringing forward such an expensive development. Already foes are proclaiming $288 million is a lot to spend on sporting facilities, and some argue the mayor is proposing the plan as a way to deflect attention from a potential recall election. Plus, local architects are rushing to preserve Memorial Coliseum as a historically significant building.
Still, it’s hard to see a developer interested in such a development in this economy, given the track record of similar ballpark developments. The Cordish Co., which made its mark in Baltimore redevelopment, has seen sports-oriented developments falter in the last year: a downtown Kansas City development near Sprint Center has been criticized for a lack of economic impact, while a proposed Ballpark Village project in St. Louis in conjunction with the Cardinals has been repeatedly delayed because the numbers just don’t work, even with a sizable city subsidy.
RELATED STORIES: Crunching the numbers on a new Bevos ballpark; Portland proposes tearing down Memorial Coliseum for new Bevos ballpark; Portland City Council votes to move ahead with new Bevos ballpark — but takes $15 million from the equation; 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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