This summer, my wife and I are taking our little monkies on a trip to visit one of her favorite cities: Portland, Or. In preparation, I have been reading about all the fun things to do up that way. Personally, I am excited to see the Portland Beavers in PGE Park.
Sadly, my web search (I always do web searches for the stuff I want to do rather than going to the website I know best right away, it’s like taking a scenic drive rather than hitting the freeway) turned up an article about the potential end of the Beavers. But what I found even more interesting than the Beavers moving to Tuscon, Arizona or Sugar Land, Texas was the reason for the potential move: a redesigned PGE Park to support the Portland Timbers move from the USL to MLS in 2011 (along with the Vancouver Whitecaps).
Brief digression, soccer teams have such cool names. I love that these MLS teams pay tribute to the history of soccer in the local region by naming their teams after their NASL predecessors. It almost makes me wish that the A’s were called the “Oaks” and the Giants were called the “Seals.” Can we start a letter writing drive to change DC United to the Washington Diplomats? If the A’s eventually move south I guess they would need to be called the Bees in this alternate universe. Imagine the alternate uniforms the San Jose Bees could have (think of a Jumping Jim Brunzell and B. Brian Blair inspired jersey).
Back to the matter at hand: The new PGE Park will serve as home to the Portland State Vikings football team in addition to the MLS version of the Timbers. This fact had me thinking about the long ago proposed New Spartan Stadium, first, but the as of yet unnamed new Earthquakes Stadium, second. How do the two, New PGE and New Quakeville, compare?
First off, these two stadium projects are really different in a lot of ways. PGE Park is an existing structure that will be reconfigured a bit to accommodate a better soccer experience while the future Quakes home is brand spanking new from the ground up. Here is what PGE Park looks like now:
The changes to this stadium are pretty drastic. For a good summary, one should visit here. The Cliff’s Note version of the changes are:
- Removal of the baseball dugouts to shift the soccer field North and West.
- New Field Turf.
- A new, covered seating area on the East side of the stadium with industry leading leg room (this will be where Left Field is in the picture above) bringing the capacity from about 16k to 20k.
- Modern amenities like a restaurant, Club Level, Team Store and Group Seating.
- A new Press Box and Team Areas.
Another big difference between this stadium and the Quakes future home is the cost and financing. The Quakes estimates put the stadium in San Jose at approximately $40 to $60 Million. That is in addition to the chunk of change Uncle Lew has put down for the land (which was negotiated down to $89 Million for 66 acres). As has been documented here before, the stadium construction financing for Quakeville is not ironed out completely (Someone get Steve Jobs on the horn, we need iPad Pitch).
In Portland, the cost of renovation is $31 Million and is being financed by a mix of public and private money. Basically, the City of Portland (the City Council voted almost unanimously for the deal) is footing the bill for about $12 Million, while Merritt Paulson (Timbers owner) is covering about $22 Million in upfront cash and future payment guarantees. Paulson agreed, as a part of the deal, to cover all cost overruns.
One last big difference, PGE Park renovations have already begun. Not only is this verifiable by visiting the photo diary of changes, Maury Brown of the Business of Sports Network (and a Portland resident) has confirmed for me that heavy equipment is in place and tearing up the current yard already.
Man, I can’t wait until my friends from the East Coast are calling me for updates on pile driver positioning at a new A’s or Quakes (or both) stadium.