A Stadium That is Already Under Construction

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.

The picture (Courtesy of the Portland Timbers) above shows the new seating in place of the former Left Field.

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.

38 thoughts on “A Stadium That is Already Under Construction

  1. Portland timbers playing at the renovated PGE Park will be an intimidating atmosphere for all MLS teams. Can’t wait until the Sounders and Whitecaps come to town. Pacific northwest battle will be resumed.

    • It’s gonna be amazing!

      • Meanwhile, the Quakes continue to cater to the soccer mom/little league crowd. They are stuck in the 90s.

      • They’ve started to curb this failed approach recently. Beer is allowed on campus, there are pub shuttles, the FO gives leeway to supporter groups, etc. I think the juxtaposition of crowds/cultures in Seattle and Dallas is startling for many.

  2. oh how I wish the title of this post had an ‘s next to the first word…

    • And just to think; if all had gone as planned back in 2006, Cisco Field at Pacific Commons/Fremont would be having an “Open House” this week and the first home game would be in a few weeks.
      I think Portland would make for an excellent MLB town in the future (would the Mariners fight it?).

      • Doubt the Mariners would fight it. Its been rumored so many times before with no peep from them, and its not like they can complain as they have really no competition in the North West as is, so not much of a case.

      • They did peep last time. If I recall, it was due to a) season ticket holders (maybe 5%) and b) cable television rights in the local market.

        They’d be fools not to bitch after the deal Angelos got.

      • Tony D, all is going according to plan.

    • A Zennie rant from last night–I am sure that ML and Jeffrey will build off of this soon—lets hope he’s right and that the train is ready to start moving forward–other than indicating that a decision is coming in the next few days the rest of the read is a classic rant against any move…..Zennie says

      “According to a source Monday evening, Major League Baseball (MLB) is set to report that their MLB Baseball Stadium Commission formed to evaluate the Oakland A’s stadium situation is going to recommend to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig that the Oakland A’s move to San Jose.

      The news came too late in the night Monday to check with appropriate key players for their reaction, but it’s far to say one person who will not be pleased is Oakland City Attorney John Russo, who has openly said he’s considering a lawsuit against both the Athletics and the City of San Jose.

      The reasons why MLB would pick San Jose over Oakland will be listed in the report set to be released within three days (unless MLB elects to delay the release of the report after this blog post). But the array of information required and the template that information fits in is not complex or vast. One can guess that San Jose has a more complete stadium development plan. But if Major League Baseball even uses the term “marketing” or “ticket sales” as a San Jose advantage in the report then the stadium committee itself doesn’t know what it’s talking about. ”

      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail??blogid=95&entry_id=60188

      • Zennie is grasping at straws.

        Getting tourists to make baseball-special trips and taking advantage of business travelers who will want to go to MLB rivalry games is the base for ticket sales….Multiply that approach times the teams in Major League Baseball the A’s will play and there’s a submarket to go after…The Oakland A’s don’t do this….So the problem is 20th Century marketing in a 21st Century World.

        Turns out the A’s attendance problem can be solved by bringing in more of the opposing teams’ fans. Now THAT, is exactly the kind of atmosphere I’ve been longing for more of. Nothing makes a fan more happy than being drowned out and heckled by the opposing teams fans at an A’s game.

      • I expect something by Opening Day, however Jeffrey and I have discussed this and I’ve imposed a moratorium on posts about rumors. When something comes down from on high, we’ll post accordingly.
        That said, Zennie’s reasoning is just daffy. It’s not a “worldwide fanbase” if ticket marketing is towards the opposing teams. They aren’t that big a percentage anyway, 10% or less of sales.

      • It will be good when the speculation is a thing of the past and we are all aware of the direction. Like ML said, we don’t want to further rumors.

        I will disagree with Zennie a bit (though reading his blog has become somewhat of a guilty pleasure, especially the celebrity gossip stuff that helps me keep up with my wife in conversations about Sandra Bullock, etc.), I think that if the committee lists “marketing” or “ticket sales” in the report it will be based on thorough research.

        I have been on a few baseball trips in my day (Mancations, as my wife calls them). I can’t imagine that, excusing for Spring Training tourism and strange occurrences like Rickey Henderson being inducted into the Hall of Fame in the middle of the same road trip where the A’s play the Yankees and Red Sox, there is a ton of tickets to be sold to tourists.

  3. That’s a shame — the old Portland Civic Stadium was one of the biggest and best minor league ballparks, and had a long history and good baseball character.

    • “biggest and best minor league ballparks”

      A self-contradiction. PGE seats 8,000-10,000 people too many for minor league baseball (and 20,000 too few for Major League Baseball). That’s a big part of why MLS will land there–the Goldilocks principle.

  4. I heard about the Timbers renovations a while ago, but I didn’t realise it was going to displace the Beavers. That’s some sad news for Portland. To go from having a shot (even if it was a really long one) at a MLB team to possibly not even having a minor league team. Maybe Portland will take this as an opportunity to prepare for a MLB stadium as San Jose has been doing so they will be ready the next time a team comes looking for a new city…

  5. A damn shame, really–we were there last summer, that’s a fine minor league ballpark they’re destroying.

    • Destroying? It wasn’t even built for baseball, hence the awkward configuration.

    • Merritt Paulson is doing his best “to keep” the Beavers in Portland or the surrounding Metro area. This despite the fact that out of state entities are lobbying for him to move or sell the beavers. (cities mentioned in the article). He’s trying to site the Beavers in a new location, but he’s getting torpedoed and shouted down by either the city councils or the proposed areas tax payers. He wants to keep them in portland, in a new Beavers ball park, but no one wants them.

      The Trailblazers effectively crushed the attempt to take down the old Memorial Coloseum in the Rose Quarter and build a 7,500 seat baseball park for the Beavers as part of the area’s sports and entertainment district. It didn’t fit with the Blazers visions of an entertainment district consisting of restaurants/bars surrounding the Rose Garden where the Trail Blazers play.

      The Lents Park Neighborhood assocociation in SE Portland said no to siting the Beavers ball park as part of the 44 acre Lents Park.

      The city of Beaverton finally had to abandon their attempts to work with Paulson in bringing the Beavers to the suburbs. Tax payers response to polling questions was WHAT? NO WAY!

      Washington County explored the possiblitly of building the stadium at the Fairgrounds, but quickly backed off when taxpayers started complaining.

      I believe Merrit has one more option locally but haven’t heard much the last couple of months.
      If the man was out to throw the Beavers under the bus to make a buck, he would have taken the first offer from out of state, and he’d.make a lot of money. There are cities who want to build a stadium for the Beavers and he’d just have to move em in. There are citys who already have a nice stadium…already to go and just need a team…but Merrit is sticking with TRYING to keep them in Portland. Unfortunately, it seems that no one (fans/taxpayers) in Portland or the surrounding areas are even remotely interested in keeping the Beavers.

      As mentioned above….PGE Park is not a baseball park. It was never meant to be. It is one leg short of being a true horseshoe shape. (originally built for track/field…dog racing..football)

      It is three times the size of an optimum sized Triple A baseball park. I’ve been to more than a few games with 4,000 fans swallowed up in that 20,000 capacity facility. To call it a travesty that PGE will not be a baseball park any longer, and that we’re losing a baseball facility with lots of character, well I just have to wonder what the hell you’ve been drinking.
      PGE is too big, too echoey, drafty, and the fans are too far away from the field considering it’s AAA baseball. Fans should be 20ft from the baselines, in a stadium that has 20 rows max. Close ….Intimate…truly what watching A, AA, AAA baseball is all about.

      The Portland Beavers have left Portland on three different occasions, all because they couldn’t make enough money to survive.

      • You see, I tried to fit in all the politics around the Beavers, but it takes quite a bit of explaining and I just left it at “potential end of the Beavers.”
        Thanks for putting it out there for everyone.
        Do you know what the other potential location in the Portland area is?

      • Question – is part of the resistance to a new AAA park based on a fear of “wasting money” if Portland were then to get a MLB franchise within a decade? After all, Portland came close in the Expo’s drama.

      • They’d have to restart the process all over again. PGE Park was supposed to be the temporary home until a new ballpark was built. Without an interim home, they’d have to either build on spec (unlikely) or have a team move or expansion timed perfectly with the opening. Not sure if the funding from SB 5 would still be available – someone more familiar would have to answer that.

  6. 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?

    ———————–

    As a DC United fan, I can assure you this will never happen and would be atrocious if it did. Aside from Diplomats getting shortened (even on the jersey) to the laughable “Dips”–they don’t even have significant tradition in this town. United has considerably more, arrived at from winning 4 championships and sticking around 5 times as long.

    • Thanks for the perspective.

      It was a joke, like having the pro wrestling tag team the Killer Bees serve as inspiration for future alternate jerseys.

  7. This is totally B.S. here. There are no mention FREMONT. This story is totally fake here. Let’s wait until there’re actually news here or announcement.

  8. “Oakland A’s Stadium News: Field of Schemes wrong, as usual”
    .
    If they are wrong as usual, does that mean that Zennie either a) reads their site often or b) he isn’t unknown after all?

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