City Commissioner Dan Saltzman had to endure a lecture from his own uncle in city council this morning, on the idiocy of Major League Soccer.
Hal Saltzman actually played two seasons for the Portland Beavers in 1948 and 1949, before being drafted to Cleveland. He would have played more there, too, were it not for being drafted to Korea for five years in the Marines. Saltzman won 23 games with the Beavers in 1949, he told me, afterward.
Saltzman senior was in council this morning to protest, along with some other old-timer baseball pals, about council's decision to allow Merritt Paulson access to PGE Park to carry out renovations to the stadium before a financial deal for major league soccer is in place. That deal was supposed to have been reached by October, but is still weeks off, according to the mayor's office. In the mean time, Paulson's company, Peregrine, can start renovations, while the stadium can still accommodate the 2010 Beavers season.
"I don't want to see Portland make a terrible mistake," Saltzman senior said. "This is a $100million deal. Soccer isn't worth it. If you don't believe me, go out and ask Portlanders. 99 out of 100 will tell you this is not worth it."
Saltzman also expressed concern about Major League Soccer edging baseball out of Portland after 70-odd years.
"There are tremendous needs in this city," he told the Mercury afterward. "There are problems with the schools and more than 2000 homeless on the streets, between 500 and 700 of those folks are veterans."
Saltzman said his nephew is "a very considerate guy and a great commissioner, but I think he and the other commissioners are making a horrible mistake, because they're being dictated to by major league soccer." "I think they're getting pushed into this."
Saltzman said Portland could have a major league baseball franchise in a few years, if it weren't for this move.
City Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz sided with Saltzman, senior, this morning, and voted against the proposal, albeit for different reasons. Fish said "we're approaching a six month delay" in reaching a financial deal over soccer, with "81 issues still in dispute. I respectfully believe we're giving away leverage." Fritz said she thought it did not "seem prudent" to "allow significant changes to be made without a development agreement in place."
City Commissioners Randy Leonard and Saltzman, along with Mayor Sam Adams, were happy to vote yes on the motion. No matter what old Uncle Saltzman may have thought about it.
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