UPDATE, 5:37pm: Beavers/Timbers owner Merritt Paulson has asked council for a delay to next week's stadium vote, issuing the following statement:
“The goal of bringing Major League Soccer to Portland cannot be achieved without the city also resolving the issue of building a new and better home for the Portland Beavers. That is my goal. It is reflected in the financial commitments I made, and that the city council agreed to when it approved the resolution to improve PGE Park for MLS and to build a new Rose Quarter stadium for the Beavers,” he said. “I remain committed to finding a soccer-baseball solution and have suggested to the Mayor that he postpone next week’s vote on our pre-development agreement so that we can continue working with city officials to find a solution that achieves our mutual interests.”
ORIGINAL POST, 3:33pm: Last night we reported that Mayor Sam Adams decided to delay this week's Memorial Coliseum vote until next week because of opposition by swing vote, Commissioner Dan Saltzman.
The question is, what happens now? Adams can't push ahead on the Memorial Coliseum baseball stadium without three votes, and Saltzman says he won't support a baseball stadium there without a 60 to 90 day public involvement process, first. I was turning over the possibilities in my mind this morning, but decided, ultimately, to ask Saltzman in person. What's going to happen next week?
"My guess at this point is I don't think there will be a vote next week," says Saltzman. "It will either be set over or delayed further. But I stress that that's just a guess. I feel in the dark now, too—I felt that maybe by now [Mayor Adams] would be saying something publicly."
"I think they're going to be looking more at Lents, again," Saltzman continues.
Not at trying to squeeze both a baseball stadium and the Coliseum into the Rose Quarter? "I think that those options have pretty much been exhausted," he says.
Saltzman stresses that he's supportive of renovations to PGE Park to accommodate Major League Soccer, but not supportive of putting the baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter without more pubic process. In contrast, Saltzman says he would be supportive of siting the baseball stadium in Lents, without such a lengthy delay, because the residents of Lents have already made clear that they want the stadium in their neighborhood.
Ironically, Saltzman's position may take the planned stadium development back to where it was focused a year ago. Sarah reported in this week's issue that Lents was always the city's first choice for a baseball stadium. Mayor Sam Adams and Timbers/Beavers owner Merritt Paulson simply decided that the Rose Quarter may be more successful, commercially.
"[Paulson] hasn't said he doesn't want it [in Lents], just that it's not his first preference," says Saltzman. "Because there was a point when Lents was the only option, then all of a sudden we were looking at the Coliseum."
"Merrit's concerned about drawing a crowd, but I remember him arguing very strongly that opening up the I-205 with light rail meant Lents was a good location," Saltzman continues. "It would be a shot in the arm for them down there with the light rail."
Saltzman's new stand is likely to please City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who had originally been a strong advocate of baseball in East Portland. Leonard is on vacation this week.
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