Last week, we posted about Portland’s efforts to land a Major League Soccer Franchise in 2011. On Tuesday, Merritt Paulson, the owner of the Portland Timbers and driving force behind the Portland bid, took his pitch to the Oregon Legislature. Paulson is asking the Legislature to revisit a 2003 bill that would use Major League Baseball player salaries to pay for stadium construction (remember when Portland was chasing an MLB franchise?).
Giving the economic climate, Paulson wisely couched his message in terms of jobs creation. Because his project includes the renovation of PGE Park and the construction of a new home for his minor league baseball team, Paulson can pitch his project as a two-for-one.
Action is also taking place on the city level, because Paulson is seeking funding on all fronts. In a remarkable display of chutzpah, Paulson took his argument directly to the people, through a commentary piece in the Oregonian. In his article, Paulson states that he is seeking $35-38 million from the City to improve PGE Park, and trumpets his willingness to pony up the $40 million franchise fee. Of Course, it is only a few paragraphs later when he notes the need to build a new home for his baseball team.
As I have stated before, I think Portland would be a great venue for MLS. With limited competition for sports dollars and media coverage, and a strong repuation as a hotbed for soccer, Portland seems like perfect destination for the League. The deadline for City action is March 15. Footiebusiness.com will keep tracking all of the expansion bids. We of course welcome your comments on the viability of this bid as well.