Portland Beavers owner Merritt Paulson withdraws his proposal for a new ballpark in the Lents area of Portland, as community members rise in opposition to the plan and city leaders question whether a new ballpark is needed at all.
Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) owner Merritt Paulson has withdrawn his proposal for a new ballpark in the Lents area of Portland, as community members rise in opposition to the plan and city leaders question whether a new ballpark is needed at all.
The opposition to the city diverting $43 million in community-development funds toward a new Bevos ballpark was pretty intense, if the July 18 meeting of the Lents Urban Renewal Advisory Committee was any indication. Of the 41 speakers, two were for the ballpark, one was neutral, and the rest opposed. Faced with such adamant opposition, the committee was sure to come out against the proposal — ensuring City Councilman Dan Saltzman, the swing vote on the five-person council, would have opposed it as well.
So Paulson withdrew the plan. You can read his letter to Mayor Sam Adams here.
The other factor now in play: whether the Beavers need a new ballpark at all. Paulson has maintained MLS has put a soccer-only facility as a condition of landing a pro-soccer franchise for Portland; hence the need to renovate PGE Park. But we've heard consistently from MLS officials that the condition is not iron-clad and that some sort of hybrid facility could work — as in the case of Seattle, the poster child for MLS expansion these days. The Sounders play at Qwest Field — sharing it with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, playing on artificial turf — and are the hit of the league. So the experience with Seattle says the insistence on a soccer-only facility could bent, for the right market.
We said it Wednesday and we'll say it again: don't look for Paulson to announce a move to Vancouver the suburb or Vancouver the large city. Instead, look for the announcement of a magic PGE Park renovation plan that allows for MLS soccer and the continued operations of the Beavers in a historic facility. Not the worst plan in the world, really.
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