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.