Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Save Portland's Memorial Coliseum, but for what?

Oregonian Reporter Helen Jung asks this same question in the Sunday edition of the Oregonian. The story does not really break any new ground, but does touch on the main issues like the improvements needed to the arena and the fact that as it currently stands, the Memorial Coliseum barely breaks even. One important point from the article is the question of whether the Trail Blazer organization is deliberately letting the Coliseum become obsolete so that it can get the lion's share of the available bookings. From the article here is a line or two that touches on this matter:

"The city, with such limited income from the coliseum, won't invest much in capital improvements, Macht said, making the coliseum even less desirable and helping Portland Arena "kill off" the competition.

Isaac denied the claims, saying they have aggressively tried to fill the coliseum and aren't diverting events to the Rose Garden. The issue is that concert promoters and event organizers often just prefer the newer Rose Garden, with its amenities including a large video board, LED signs and renovated luxury suites".

J. Issac is of course a Senior V.P. with the Portland Trailblazers. While I am under no illusion that the Memorial Coliseum is as attractive to promoters than a modern arena such as the Rose Garden, the fact is the building does quite well considering the lack of attention it has received. Another thing that really upsets me is how it seems that the Memorial Coliseum is seemingly the only project, investment, or structure in the city of Portland that is ever questioned for profitability and/or profit potential? I never hear about any other goofy project that the city embarks on scrutinized so much.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Memorial Coliseum is spared.....for now

In today's news from the Oregonian website comes word that the great Sam Adams has spared the Coliseum from the wrecking ball. Thanks to near-unanimous opposition to the plan of knocking down the "Glass Palace" to site a AAA baseball team, the mayor has decided to back off and has set his sights on the Lents Park area for the new stadium.

While this is great news and everyone involved in stopping this should give themselves a pat on the back, the fight is not over. The Portland Trailblazer organization has now come up with a grand plan to turn the Rose Quarter into a "entertainment district", whatever that means. But the crucial part of this is that the plan includes possibly gutting the M.C. for some undetermined purpose related to the new district , and from what I can gather plans are not available to the public as of yet. And of course they will need the public's help in paying for all of this. To quote the article:

"It's unclear how much a Rose Quarter redesign would cost. But in preliminary talks, the Blazers have said their plans for an entertainment district that includes bars, restaurants and nightclubs could run as much as $100 million. The team would surely seek some public investment", J.E. Isaac, the Blazer senior vice president for business affairs, has said.

This is not over by a long shot.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The People Have Spoken Part II

The good folks over at the Portland Business Journal just posted the results of a poll where they asked their readers "Should the city of Portland demolish the Memorial Coliseum?"  The "no" votes won out by 4 percentage points, with11% undecided.

This is great news and it shows that the citizens of the region are not ready to see the Coliseum torn down and replaced so hastily.  To tell you the truth I have been very surprised at the support that the 'save the coliseum' folks have been getting.  I really wish to thank the Portland architectural community for coming out in such numbers and going to bat for the "Glass Palace".  

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beauty Is In the eye of the beholder

Well Randy Leonard opened his mouth and stuck his foot in it yet again. According to the Portland Tribune, commissioner Leonard was quoted as saying “Only the Portland Building is uglier,” when referring to the Memorial Coliseum. And I guess that a empty baseball stadium is comparable to the Chrysler Building? Only in the eyes of a fool like Randy Leonard.

In the article by Jim Redden, the future of the Memorial Coliseum is discussed. The Portland Trailblazer organization wants to create a 'free' live music venue on the Coliseum site. The idea is that it would draw thirsty concertgoers who could be then sold over-priced beer, food, etc. The article also quotes local architect Brian Libby who thinks that the Memorial Coliseum could be converted into a hybrid indoor/outdoor arena. How feasible this idea is I am not sure, but it is much better than the alternative proposed by Mr. Leonard.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Timbers Deal Hinges on Baseball Stadium

According to an article on kgw.com, MLS officials have told KGW that PGE Park must be a soccer-only facility if the city wants a major league soccer franchise. From what I have read this is because the ideal seating configuration for soccer does not match up with the current configuration of PGE Park.

While this does not directly relate to 'saving the coliseum', I find it baffling that a fledgling sports league is in a position to make such a demand of a new franchise considering that their business model is still untested and we are currently in a recession. If I were the undecided city council members, I would tell Merritt Paulson and MLS to take a hike. But that is just my opinion.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Paulson Asks For a delay on stadium vote

According to the "O", Merritt Paulson has asked to delay "indefinitely" a vote on placing the proposed AAA baseball stadium at the Rose Quarter.  This is good news in that he must had come to the conclusion that public outrage over tearing down the Coliseum was getting in the way of his plans, and he needed to move quickly to place it elsewhere so he could be on track to convert PGE Park for "Professional" soccer.

The news is getting better every day but we still have to keep our guard up as the Blazer Organization has their eyes on the M.C. in the hopes of building some kind of open air music venue, using the outer-walls and the roof of the Coliseum and then gutting the bowl seating to create some kind of amphitheater.  

Of course this makes absolutely no sense as the metro area already has a large amphitheater that is losing money (Clark County Amphitheater), and last I heard they were contemplating covering the venue so they could operate year-round.   I don't think that there are too many people around here who want to sit out in the cold, soggy, Pacific Northwest weather to watch a Coldplay concert in the middle of November.  But I could be wrong.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Comissioner Saltzman Wavering On MLS plan

According to this article from the Willamette Weekly website, commissioner Dan Saltzman is having second thoughts on the Sam/Merritt/Randy rushed plan to demolish the Memorial Coliseum in order to place a new AAA baseball stadium for the Portland Beavers.  According to the article, Dan was prepared to introduce a 120 day 'time out' on the Rose Quarter plan as proposed by Sam Adams. Sensing that Dan was slipping from his grasp, Sam moved the vote up another week while other ideas were considered.

Good for you Dan!  It is nice that one politician out there is listening to his constituents.  

Monday, April 20, 2009

Council vote on Memorial Coliseum's fate delayed

According to the Oregonian, the vote on the fate of the Memorial Coliseum has been delayed until April 29th to give planners more time in making the decision on where to place the proposed AAA baseball stadium.  In plain speak this means that Sam Adams knew that he was going to piss off a lot of people by rushing ahead with the plan of demolishing the Coliseum to place, of all things, a minor-league baseball park.

I know that some media sources have been reporting that the Memorial Coliseum has been saved from the wrecking ball, but I am not convinced of that what so ever.  The article clearly states only that the Coliseum site is off the table as far as the baseball stadium is concerned.  The Blazer Organization has its eye on the site for some kind of "entertainment district" and wants to use the Coliseum's shell for the roof of an amphitheater.  As if the competition in the outdoor concert venue market is not competitive enough already!  

As a side note in all of this, when I had a full tour of the Coliseum facilities in 2003 or so, the lady in the front office showed me an old artist sketch that they had found in storage just within the last week or so.  The original plan for the Memorial Coliseum called for a amphitheater where the Thunderbird Motor Inn stands now.  I am under the impression that Paul Allen owns that piece of property so maybe they could, if they feel it is necessary, put a outdoor concert venue in there by the river?

The People Have Spoken, but are they listening?

An update to my last post.  I just got off the phone with an assistant to Dan Saltzman who wishes to remain anonymous, and she told me that the majority of calls were running AGAINST the MLS plan that calls for demolishing the Memorial Coliseum.  Folks, this is great news as it shows that people are getting on the phone and speaking out against this boondoggle.   I only hope that the city commissioners will listen to their constituents and vote with them, and not against them.

Memorial Coliseum’s fate hangs in the balance

Jim Redden wrote up a  good piece for the Portland Tribune on the fate of the Memorial Coliseum.  According to the article, there is going to be a rally to save the Coliseum at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, at the American Institute of Architects' Center for Architecture, 403 N.W. 11th Ave.  I strongly suggest that anyone who is interested in saving the Coliseum attend the event.

In the article Redden quotes Randy Leonard as saying that he "anticipates" that a majority of the city council WILL vote to place the proposed baseball stadium at the Coliseum site.  This is not good news.  We need to get on the phones and call the city council members, especially Dan Saltzman who is turning out to be the swing vote.  I did email Dan a few days back but never heard back from him.  When I called his office last week his assistant told me that the calls were "mixed" in support  of the plan.  I find this hard to believe as the other assistants told me that the calls were overwhelmingly against the MLS plan.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Portland soccer jobs not exactly as promised

From The Oregonian, it turns out that the number of jobs that are to be created by the new MLS team are a lot lower than the projected estimates.  And on top of that, a good 1/4 or more are low-paying jobs without benefits that are subsidized by the city of Portland.  These jobs include ushers, ticket takers, etc.  

Now I am no expert on "professional" sports teams, but even the revised estimate of 160 high paying jobs ($50k and over) that will come with the new team seems to me to be nothing more than wishful thinking.  I could be wrong but I do not see how a fledgling team in a fledgling league will be able to afford a payroll of that many higher-wage workers, especially when you figure in the 30 or so team members which would leave 130 for management, sales, coaches, etc.  

The article does state that the jobs would be created by both the new MLS team and the Beavers baseball team, but aren't the Beavers already up and running?  I smell a rat here and his name is Merritt Paulson.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Memorial Coliseum's Champion Gil Frey

The Oregonian did a piece a couple of days back on local veteran Gil Frey, who has waged a virtual one-man campaign to save the Portland Memorial Coliseum. He has finally gotten some help as of late, but as far back as 2002 when there was a larger effort by the local veterans to keep the M.C. from being turned into the "Veterans Home Depot ", Gil has been the man.

The article was good, maybe a bit condescending towards the Glass Palace, but it was good to see Gil get the credit that he deserves. I hope that I have his energy when I am his age.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

To Lighten Up The Mood A Bit - From The Archives

I have always wanted to post this picture but never got around to it. And it is somewhat relateable as it was taken at PGE Park. The picture actually comes from a commemorative book that was available at the time of the opening of the Memorial Coliseum. The book is full of great pictures of vintage 1960 Portland and also some great shots of the Coliseum under construction.

Does anyone think that this would fly today with the city leaders or even with the lawyers?

Demolishing Memorial Coliseum -- a bad idea inside a bad plan

I want to link to a fantastic opinion piece by Barry Johnson of the Oregonian. The piece lays out virtually every argument imaginable for saving the Portland Memorial Coliseum, and placing the proposed AAA baseball stadium elsewhere, without being too academic . One of the best points that he makes and one that I have had a hard time trying to put into words is the point that we should just accept the Rose Quarter for what it is and plan around it. Then followed up by his point that the city should keep the Coliseum as-is and finally spend some money to renovate it and then put it under new management.

A great piece that should be read by everyone involved in this issue.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Some Random Thoughts

After watching and reading coverage of tonight's 'open house' which was held for the purpose of allowing citizens to view plans for the proposed baseball stadium at the Rose Quarter and to ask Mayor Adams questions, I am left feeling somewhat angry and disillusioned.  From all accounts not one person spoke up in favor of the idea.  And from the polls that I have seen, most Portlanders are against the plan of demolishing the Memorial Coliseum.  Below are just some random thoughts of mine and please feel free to leave any comments about them.  

  • Is there no other spot in the city that could host the new baseball stadium?
  • Why does Sam Adams think the new "entertainment district" would work there?  Anyone else remember 'Cucina Cucina'?  Enough said.
  • Why does the idea of spending money to modernize the Memorial Coliseum seem to be out of the question?  The city seems to have no trouble finding money for the PGE Park/baseball stadium funding.  And lets not forget all of the other wacky investments that the city has made with absolutely no return for the taxpayers.  How is that tram working out Sam?
  • Randy Leonard has got to be the most hard-headed politician of all time.  By his reasoning we should just level the Coliseum because its electrical and other systems need upgrading.  If that were the case, at least half of the residential homes in Portland would be demolished and Home Depot would be out of business.
  • I have nothing against building new stadiums if the business model will work, but why level a perfectly fine building that is a local landmark just to site a minor-league stadium that will sit empty most of the year?  Talk about an eyesore.
  • Is it just me or does the Memorial Coliseum not just scream 'Portland'?  Contrary to what a few people have been saying on some of the Internet forums, the Coliseum is in remarkably nice condition considering the age and how much use the venue has seen.   The views from the concourse are amazing and the design of the building has held up very well considering the age.  If it was just a typical old cement sports arena (like the old 'Salt Palace'....sorry Salt Lake) I might feel differently.
  • On a positive note I think there is a small glimmer of hope in that some of Portland's 'creative class' and artists (Thomas of Pink Martini) have come out in favor of saving the Coliseum and I am really hoping that their support will add some needed credibility to the cause.  We all know that the veterans have been pretty much ignored and kept out of the process regarding the new plans.  
  • On top of everything else, politicians want to feel liked.  Does Dan Saltzman REALLY want to be known as the guy who killed Portland Veterans Memorial Coliseum?  Only time will tell. 

National Trust expresses support for Memorial Coliseum preservation

The Portland Daily Journal Of Commerce has an article on its site from yesterday which brings more good news for people advocating for the preservation of the Memorial Coliseum. It seems that a representative from the National Trust for Historic Preservation has sent a letter to the members of the Portland city council expressing support for the preservation of the Coliseum. The full text of the letter can be read here on the Portland Architecture blog.

Brian Libby from the Portland Architecture blog has been doing a marvelous job of advocating for the Memorial Coliseum and I want to thank him for all of his hard work.

Memorial Coliseum advocates weigh their options

Not Only is yours truly mentioned in this article in tomorrows Oregonian (thanks Anne), but the article does a fantastic job in describing not only the current status of the arena and its management, but Anne also interviews some of the major tenants of the coliseum and details how they would be affected by a possible closure. I will try and point out the main points individually, but I want to first give props to Peter Meijer and the local architects who are working behind the scenes to get the Portland Memorial Coliseum on the National Register Of Historic Places. This action gives a lot of credibility to the movement to save the Coliseum. A shout out to Peter and all of the architects who are working to get this done!

Some of the most important details of the article are as follows:

1. Many groups would be affected by the closure of the Memorial Coliseum including the Portland Winter Hawks, the Portland Rose Festival Assoc., Oregon School Activities Association, etc.
2. The Memorial Coliseum made a $100,000 profit in 2007. This was largely due to the Davis Cup finals. This proves that the Coliseum is still viable and with the right management and a bit of investment could still turn a profit for the city.
3. The Coliseum currently hosts 160 events per year. That is more than twice what the new AAA baseball stadium would host and with the right management that number would likely go a lot higher.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rose Quarter redevelopment plans begin to gel

A good article that was published today on the Portland Tribune web page pretty much sums up most of the recent news concerning the future of the Memorial Coliseum.  One of the more important details of the article is that commissioner Dan Saltzman is still undecided about his vote on moving ahead with the funding for the PGE Park renovation and the new stadium at the Coliseum site.  I am listing the City Council members contact info below for all who wish to call or write to let them know how you feel on the issue.

Amanda Fritz

Commissioner of Public Utilities, Position Number 1
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 220, 97204
Phone: (503)823-3008
E-mail: amanda@ci.portland.or.us  


Nick Fish

Commissioner of Public Works, Position Number 2
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 240, 97204
(503) 823-3589
e-mail: Nick@ci.portland.or.us


Randy Leonard
Commissioner of Public Safety, Position Number 4
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 210, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4682
E-mail: randy@ci.portland.or.us


Dan Saltzman
Commissioner of Public Affairs, Position Number 3
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 230, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4151
E-mail: dsaltzman@ci.portland.or.us  

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Coliseum Choices: An Asset Too Valuable To Demolish

I received an email from a person who wishes to remain anonymous. To make a long story short this individual, like me, is hoping that the Memorial Coliseum can be saved. He emailed me not only a copy of a letter that he sent to the city commissioners, but also a soon to be published article that was authored by Will Macht, a professor at PSU, who behind the scenes has written up a nice article that gives some very good reasons for saving the Memorial Coliseum. In the article professor Macht also provides some ideas of what could be done with the Coliseum besides the AAA baseball stadium that Sam Adams and co. want at the Coliseum site. If you want to see the document you can download it from here.

There is a lot to digest here and I am only putting this information on the blog for the sake of getting it out there. I did not look through the whole document and I am not putting my stamp of approval on it, but I could get behind some of the ideas that the professor has laid out. Like keeping the Memorial Coliseum as an arena. Imagine that.......what a concept huh? For all who are interested, below is the email to the city council members from the fellow who passed this information on to me, with any mention of his name deleted to protect his privacy as he has contacts within the Blazer Organization:

Dear Commissioner, I am writing to express my strong disapproval of the plan to demolish the Memorial Coliseum to make way for a baseball stadium. I urge you and your fellow commissioners to give the process the time necessary to fully investigate the issue, rather than bowing to Merritt Paulson's accelerated time table that ignores the need for public input and thoughtful consideration. I disapprove of the plan to tear down the Coliseum for the following reasons:

1. Tearing down a building that may be programmed for events 365 days a year to build a stadium that may only be used for 70 home games a year makes zero sense. One cannot build a sustainable entertainment district by tearing down a perfectly good building that just needs reprogramming and some TLC to build a less-often used, single use building.

2. A baseball stadium does nothing to achieve the stated goal of activating the area during times when no event is happening at the Rose Quarter. In fact, it does just the opposite- what good does a baseball stadium do for activating the area on the other 295 days a year when no games are played? Doesn't it make more sense to have a facility that can be used more often for multiple types of events in all kinds of weather, not less?

3. The Coliseum is a victim of a misguided operating agreement between the city and the Oregon Arena Corp. Other publicly-owned entertainment facilities in the City (Keller Auditorium, PCPA, the EXPO Center, the Oregon Convention Center, and formerly Civic Stadium) are managed by MERC, a part of Metro. Management of the MC was transferred from MERC to Oregon Arena Corp in 1992 under an operations agreement that disincentivizes operating the facility at a more than break-even level. For every dollar OAC earns in revenue from operating the MC, it must share 60 cents with the City. It has no such obstacle with the Rose Garden, and as such, makes a greater profit from events held at the RG. As a result, there is no incentive to maintain or improve the MC, and it has fallen into disrepair solely due to the conflict of interest in this management agreement. It's time to tear up the management agreement and transfer management back to MERC, so that it may program events at the MC that don't directly compete with those held at the RG. This could be done by trading development rights to the City-owned parking garages in the Rose Quarter to the OAC in exchange for voiding the management contract for the MC.

4. Where will the Winterhawks play?

5. I'm not opposed to baseball in Portland if it can be done in a forward-thinking, economically responsible manner. I often attend Beavers games and I enjoy nothing more than a hotdog on a sunny afternoon at the ballpark. But any baseball stadium built in Portland should be designed with the future in mind, not the past. Building a 9,000 seat stadium for minor league baseball practically guarantees that Major League Baseball won't come to Portland anytime in the next 20-30 years. Don't we want to be a major league town? Thinking small won't get us there. Putting a larger stadium in Lents, across Broadway at the underutilized Portland Public Schools site, or even near the airport makes far better sense. And doing it without public subsidy is the only responsible thing to do in our current economic climate. There are several well-conceived ideas for reconceptualizing the Memorial Coliseum that deserve consideration. With his permission, I've attached an article by Professor Will Macht at PSU's Center for Real Estate detailing these concepts to this email, and I encourage you to read it. It's a quick read, and the ideas make far greater sense both programmatically as well as economically than does a baseball stadium. Pay special attention to the section on the arts center, as well as the public policy questions on the last six pages. This is where the City has the opportunity to do something truly special with this iconic structure and meet the needs of Paulson, the Blazers, and the City at the same time, if they'll just slow down and take a breath.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Architects rally to preserve Memorial Coliseum

Special Thanks to Peter Meijer who is working to place the Memorial Coliseum On the National Register Of Historic Places. To see the article on the Daily Journal Of Commerce web site click here. I think this kind of thing will force the powers that be to take a second look at their decision on placing the proposed AAA baseball stadium at the M.C. site. For all of the constant talk of "green this, and green that" from the local government, I guess that their actions do not match their words as a big no-no in sustainable building is tearing down a perfectly fine building just to place another.

Way to go Peter!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Give 'Em Hell People! Tuesday, April 14th 6:00 PM, Leftbank Bldg.

Special thanks to an anonymous poster who posted this in the comments section.  The more people that attend the meeting below and speak out, and/or who call the individual city council members and voice their displeasure about the potential razing of the Coliseum, the less likely they will vote in favor of the plan.  

Let's all be heard. Attend the meeting below and make it loud and clear we won't stand for this!!

Rose Quarter Redevelopment Public Open House Event

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
6:00-8:00 p.m.

6:00 PM Public review of proposed redevelopment concepts
6:30 PM Presentation of redevelopment concepts
7:00 PM Community feedback session

Leftbank Building, 240 N. Broadway
*Parking available at the City Center Parking garages south of Weidler, across the street from the Leftbank building.

'This Old House' - A Somewhat Comical Reflection on the Memorial Coliseum

Folks, I am starting to see a pattern here. As the news of Sam Adams wanting to take a sledgehammer to the Memorial Coliseum starts to trickle out, people are starting to ask questions and to mobilize. I am posting the link to a great blog post from OurPDXNetwork written by Cosmic Charlie. Charlie recounts some of the better memories of the Memorial Coliseum from his childhood, as well as his tale of rediscovering rock and roll after seeing a Tool Concert at the M.C. recently.

I really got a kick out of the piece as a lot of our experiences seem to be similar as we seem to have come of age in the same era. God bless you Cosmic Charlie and Long Live Rock & Roll (at the Memorial Coliseum of course).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Memorial Coliseum: Portland's Penn Station?

An interesting guest opinion from Ryan Yaden on the Oregonlive.com site which compares the demolition of New York city's Penn Station to what might just happen here in the Rose City with the potential loss of the Memorial Coliseum.   Ryan's opinion piece does carry some weight as he is an architect and his article points out both the historical significance of the Coliseum as well as the unique qualities it possesses as a piece of 'modern' architecture  A good read.

The People Have Spoken

According to a poll on kex.com, the percentage of people who want to see the Memorial Coliseum torn down to make way for the proposed baseball stadium are in the minority.  And I mean 'minority'.  It looks like the NO vote is winning by well over 80%.  What was that old saying about fooling the people some of the time.......

Even though this is not a scientific poll, according to the assistants to the city commissioners that I spoke with today, the public seems to be very much against this idea.  And Randy Leonard's assistant told me that Randy will vote with the people.  Why I am finding that hard to believe?

Should Memorial Coliseum be torn down and replaced with a baseball stadium for the Portland Beavers?

16.50 %

83.50 %

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An Editorial

With the sad news that the city of Portland is indeed moving ahead with placing the new AAA baseball stadium at the site of the Memorial Coliseum, I am feeling a lot of anger quite frankly.  With the money that the city is willing to throw at the renovation of PGE park and the building of a new baseball stadium for a minor-league baseball team, I am only left to think of what a portion of that money would do if it was put into a renovation of the Memorial Coliseum.

I am also upset with the fact that once the Memorial Coliseum is gone, not only will it leave a hole for the Portland Winter Hawks, but also for all of the other events and groups that currently use the building.  Obviously the Rose Garden cannot accommodate all of the events that are currently split between the 2 venues.  Has the mayor even considered how losing the Coliseum would affect the local economy?   Not to mention the fact that the new stadium would sit empty a good half of the year.  So much for bringing foot traffic into the Rose Quarter.  

And another little fact that escapes the mayor Sam Adams and the powers that be is that if they did move the veteran's memorial, it would likely end up as a afterthought and likely lodged in next to a Hard Rock Cafe or a similiar gaudy establishment as the whole idea is to remake the Rose Quarter as a "centerpiece of a future entertainment district which would include shops, nightclubs and restaurants", according to officials from the city and the Blazers.

In my opinion Sam Adams is a despicable person.  He should have resigned after the citizens of Portland found out about his relationship with a minor and how he lied about the relationship to all of us so he could gain power.  He is a sick individual.  I would like to ask all of the citizens of Portland, what has a person like Sam Adams contributed to Portland as compared to all of the dead soldiers whose names are listed on the memorial wall that resides at the Coliseum?   The latter brought honor to the residents of Oregon, the former has only brought shame.

It's On!

Well folks, it seems as if the writing is on the wall in regards to the Coliseum.  Sam Adams and Randy Leonard just can't help themselves, which frankly does not surprise me with this bunch.   There is an article today on Oregonlive.com which states that the city is moving ahead with plans to place a new AAA baseball stadium where the Memorial Coliseum currently sits.  There is going to be a public meeting on April 14th to hear from people in regards to the possible demolition of the Coliseum.

Please take the time to either call or email the city council members.  I have listed their contact info on a previous post.  I cannot believe that with all of the other pressing problems in the city of Portland that the city commissioners would even consider this plan.  Lets make sure that our voices are heard in regards to the Memorial Coliseum.

Monday, April 6, 2009

What Could Possibly Go Wrong With Portland's MLS Plan? Ask Indiana.

Folks, if you want a good idea of what might be on the horizon for the city of Portland I refer you to this article in the Indy media .  The article chronicles the problems that they are having with keeping a brand new stadium open due to higher than expected operating costs.  Which means that the main tenants of the building are not bringing in enough revenue to cover costs.  This could never happen in Portland right?  If you don't I have a used tram to sell you.

And to remind everyone out there, all of this "musical chairs" with sports venues and sports teams here in town is really a recipe for disaster in my opinion.  We are going to demolish a perfectly good building in the Memorial Coliseum to build a new stadium for a franchise that is currently playing in a venue that was only recently renovated for them at the city's expense and is now currently only averaging less than 6,000 people per game in attendance?  Does this make any sense to anyone except for Merritt Paulson, Sam Adams, and Fireman Randy?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What Could Be

I am publishing some drawings and computer models of what the Winter Hawks envisioned for the Memorial Coliseum.  They were hoping to not only enlarge the ice to a regulation-sized sheet, but also to add 2 levels of sky box suites, with restaurants above.  These drawings are shown here publicly for most likely the first time as these handouts were only available as far as I know during the Portland city council meeting in 2003 when ideas for the Coliseum were being put forth.  

I give full credit to the Portland Winter Hawks organization for authoring and providing this material.   Sorry for the bad scans :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Letters To The Editor - Portland Tribune

In this weeks Portland Tribune there are a few letters to the editor in regards to the Portland Memorial Coliseum.  One of them is from Gil Frey, a veteran who has put a lot of work over the years into the cause of saving the Memorial Coliseum.  On a positive note I would like to point out that ALL of the letters were in favor of saving the Coliseum.  Way to go people!  Tomorrow I plan to contact all of the Portland city council members and let them know how important the Coliseum is to the city.  Their contact info is below if anyone else is interested in voicing their opinion on this matter:

Sam Adams, Mayor
Commissioner of Finance and Administration
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 340, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4120
E-mail: Samadams@ci.portland.or.us


Amanda Fritz

Commissioner of Public Utilities, Position Number 1
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 220, 97204
Phone: (503)823-3008
E-mail: amanda@ci.portland.or.us  


Nick Fish

Commissioner of Public Works, Position Number 2
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 240, 97204
(503) 823-3589
e-mail: Nick@ci.portland.or.us


Randy Leonard
Commissioner of Public Safety, Position Number 4
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 210, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4682
E-mail: randy@ci.portland.or.us


Dan Saltzman
Commissioner of Public Affairs, Position Number 3
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 230, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4151
E-mail: dsaltzman@ci.portland.or.us  

Monday, March 30, 2009

Money gap could block MLS soccer team

An interesting read on Oregonlive regarding a $63 million gap that the city of Portland is faced with in it's commitment for both the PGE Park remodel and the new AAA baseball stadium.  To quote the article;

To me that sounds like this thing is far from a done deal.  Especially when the article quotes Merritt Paulson as saying that he has not ruled out using either state aid or federal stimulus money.  Not sure what Merritt has been smoking, but it has to be some pretty good stuff.   All that I have to say to him is good luck Merritt.  

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Are The Winter Hawks Being Left Out In the Cold?

There is an excellent article in the Portland Tribune regarding the future of the Winter Hawks in relation to the possible demolition of the Memorial Coliseum and how they would fit into the Rose Garden.  The article points out among other things that the Winter Hawks would be forced to practice elsewhere and that weekend dates might be hard to come by as the Winter Hawks are not as profitable as a concert or other similar event.  Oh yeah, there is also the little problem of dressing rooms, etc.  Do you suppose the prima donna's on the Trail Blazers would want to share 'their' locker room with a lowly junior hockey team?  Just one more reason to keep the Memorial Coliseum.

One slight glimmer of hope in this matter is that the Hawks have a lease with the city that runs through 2013, so hopefully they can use that as leverage to stay in the Coliseum until then.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Water Is Magic" or How To Destroy the Rose Quarter?

Granted, the Rose Quarter as it is now is not the most exciting place to be whether there are events going on or not.  But as chronicled in the Portland Spaces blog, Blazers management wants to turn the Rose Quarter into some kind of Vegas styled 24 hour entertainment district.    Of all of the ideas for reusing the Coliseum space I find this the most obnoxious.  Does this even fit the vibe of Portland and the surrounding neighborhood?  This would fit in better on Jantzen Beach or something, but not the Rose Quarter area.  

It is almost like the major players who hold the future of the Memorial Coliseum in their hands are just throwing out ideas at this point.  What's next........turning the Coliseum into a 20-screen cineplex or maybe turn it into a indoor ski slope?  I better not give them any ideas!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

OSAA Dance Championships 3/21/09

Thanks to Gil Frey I was able to attend the OSAA Dance Championships at the Memorial Coliseum yesterday afternoon.  Truthfully it was the first time since about 2004 that I had been to the MC (My last visit was for a "Scorpions" concert.  Yuck!).  I was thrilled to get a good look at the building and the memorial.  The pool next to the memorial had been drained, for the winter I presume, but it was a nice sunny day so it gave me a good chance to show a friend the memorial and the lower ground level outside of the coliseum.  

I did not get a chance to view the whole building as a large area of the concourse was closed off to allow the dancers a place to warm up before competing.  The crowd was small and most likely consisted solely of friends and family, but they showed a lot of enthusiasm for the girls.  I was surprised on how much I enjoyed the routines and I applaud the dancers for their hard work.

As far as the overall condition of the Memorial Coliseum, I saw a very proud building with lots of life left in it.  Some things that immediately come to mind for updating are the seats (mine was somewhat creaky, but comfortable), the acoustic tiles on the ceiling, and the lighting inside the arena itself.   Another improvement would be to enlarge the ice to a regulation sized ice sheet.  And of course the arena needs to add skybox suites and a large "jumbotron" replay screen.   This would allow the Winter Hawks to remain in the building and would quell the voices of people who say that the MC is old and outdated.  In fact the Winter Hawks commisioned a report in 2003 that had artist renderings and computer models of such a remodel.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reviving the Rose Quarter

The Oregonian has a great guest opinion today by Douglas L. Obletz regarding the reuse of the Memorial Coliseum.  While I was not totally in favor of this idea when it was first floated to the public back in 2003 or so, it is a better alternative to having the building totally demolished and lost forever.  It would retain the original spirit of the Coliseum,  and Douglas calls for integrating a highly visible and accessible memorial.  I do know that the local veterans have felt slighted that they have not been allowed access to the Coliseum meeting rooms, etc., so having a dedicated room for the veterans would be a great idea also, on top of keeping the current memorial.

I hope that in haste the city does not allow rich sports team owners who have no real roots in Portland to knock down our beloved Memorial Coliseum all in the name of "progress".  I am also hoping that the citizens of Portland will put up a good fight before allowing the Coliseum to be demolished.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Coliseum's uncertain fate clouds Winter Hawks' efforts

There is a nice article in the O this evening that deals with the fate of the Portland Winter Hawks in regards to the situation with the Rose Quarter and the possible placing of the baseball stadium in the same space currently occupied by the Memorial Coliseum.  According to the article, the Hawks have a lease through 2013.   This could be good news in relation to saving the Memorial Coliseum as I seem to recall that the city and/or Paul Allen's group were not sympathetic to the fact that the Hawks had a bad contract which did not allow much flexibility in the matter of profits related to food sales and advertising.  So maybe the Hawks are not in the greatest mood to accomodate being pushed out of the picture for the "new kid on the block" as it were?  Lets hope so!

The Dedication

Nearly a half-century ago Portland's Mayor Terry Shrunk stood before an audience to dedicate a structure everybody knew would continue to live on for a century or more as a tribute to area Veterans. The spectators heard the following words:

"This Memorial Coliseum is dedicated to the advancement of cultural opportunities of the community and to the memory of our veterans of all wars who made the supreme sacrifice to preserve for us the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die".

January 8, 1961

Well it looks like MLS has found a new sucker...I mean home in Portland

According to the Oregonian, MLS executives will be in town for a scheduled news conference on Friday with city officials, and according to speculation will be "awarding" Portland  the next Major League Soccer franchise.  Oh boy........I can hardly contain my excitement.

There is trouble in paradise. Baseball or "Live Block" Entertainment?

According to this post on the opb.org site, there are now competing ideas on what should be done with the Coliseum site.  This is all starting to remind me of the fiasco in 2002 when there was talk of remaking the Coliseum into a Home Depot, among other things.  Folks, it seems like already people are just throwing out ideas without a whole lot of research or input from the people of Portland.  Have they asked the citizens if they want a AAA baseball stadium that will sit empty more than 6 months out of the year in one of the most visible locations in all of town?