Trouble in Timber Land?

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Could the dream of having three Pacific Northwest MLS teams be in danger of not happening? According to this Bloomberg story on the Portland MLS expansion bid, the stadium projects necessary for Portland's bid to work are in jeopardy unless a $15 million spending gap is addressed.

Yes, you may recall that the vote taken a month ago by the city council, which helped clear the way for Portland's MLS expansion, included an amendment that left a potential $15 million void in the funding for the two stadium projects associated with the Portland MLS bid. Back then it was unclear what that funding gap would do to the project, but now with Portland expansion head Merritt Paulson insisting that his group cannot pick up that $15 million difference, that funding gap could create serious problems.

So what does this all mean? It sure looks like some political posturing between two sides who want the other to pick up the remaining $15 million tab. Paulson wants the city to create an Urban Enterprise Zone that could help generate the tax revenue to cover the shortfall while the city would surely prefer that Paulson pick up the tab.

Will this prevent Portland from arriving in MLS in two years? I wouldn't bet on it but I would bet on that threat being made in the coming weeks and months.

What do you think of this story? Worried the Portland bid will fall through? Confident the Timbers will join MLS in 2011? Are you a Seattle Sounders fan conflicted about rooting for Portland's MLS bid to succeed?

Share your thoughts below.

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55 Responses to Trouble in Timber Land?

  1. Rastafari says:

    Timbers Army…time for a Bake Sale

  2. Dannyc58 says:

    Ives,

    Also the story said the fee was $35mm. Do you think that MLS didn’t announce a lower fee, or that the article got the fee wrong?

    Knowing Bloomberg and knowing MLS, I’d say the fee was reduced…wondering if you could look further into that?

    Thanks,

    Dan

  3. Steve says:

    C’mon St. Louis!!!!!!

    Ives –

    I’m sure that MLS isn’t sharing anything but with the decision to not go EAST / WEST in 2011 it messes up the conference situation.

    It would make a heck of a lot sense to go single table with a 34 game schedule since keeping confrences would require someoen to be moved likely requiring one of the Texas teams to go East.

    Any idea about single table or even worse going with three divisions?

  4. Garrett says:

    I really doubt there is going to be a problem with this. Likely they’re going to create a new Urban Renewal District in the end anyway. Dan Saltzman only wanted it pulled out because the county wasn’t brought into the discussion earlier(The dumb county chair just wasn’t paying attention).

    This isn’t threatening and it’s also relating to the Urban Renewal District that will affect the future AAA baseball stadium…not the upgrade to PGE Park.

  5. Schaefer says:

    As a Sounders fan, it’ll be fun to make fun of the Timbers for their financial shortcomings but I could never root against their bid succeeding. Our rivalry will only add to the joy of being in the MLS and I hope they work things out.

  6. anon says:

    Hopefully it does not work out for them

  7. hendrix says:

    is baseball a big deal there? I mean, it`s just triple A baseball, right?
    Paulson should just fold the baseball team and go with MLS only. Then there`d be no question about the money.

  8. jz says:

    I’m a Sounders fan and I will hate the Timbers as a team but root for them to BE a team in the MLS. I’m looking forward to road trips to Vancouver and Portland. You have to remember that our next closest MLS cities are Salt Lake and San Jose which are both 12+ hour drives compared to the ~3 hour drives to Vancouver and Portland.

  9. Dannyc58 says:

    link to usatoday.com

    “The league is not flexible on the $40 million expansion fee.”

    Bloomberg article says $35 million. I mean that is a potential story if you ask me–the whole reason Montreal left.

  10. SBGarrett says:

    seems like posturing… big deal.

    Isn’t Champions League starting minutes from now?

  11. Indie FC says:

    Nope, I’m a Sounders fan who has absolutely NO conflict about Portland OR Vancouver being in MLS. Are you kidding? I won’t be happy until all three teams are considered the three model franchises of MLS soccer and we are battling for the top spot, bitterly, every single year.

    And this IS posturing–the city will have a team.

  12. vic says:

    Portland…great city, but I hope it doesnt work out for them.
    Improve MLS play and attendance (especially with the large markets), then expand. This excludes Montreal, who should get in right now. I mean, 20k in attendance isnt a sure thing in Montreal…30k is!

  13. BFBS says:

    Garrett,

    The way I read is that the failure to declare an Urban Renewal Zone around PGE Park, doing which would have bridged the $15 million gap, affects the renovation of PGE Park directly and the new baseball stadium only indirectly.

    However, I understand that Garber was aware of the amendment (Ives seems to confirm this) when he made the decision to award Portland the franchise and hence suspect that the Commish knows something the Bloomberg story’s author doesn’t.

  14. RK says:

    Both Vancouver and Portland are paying 35 mil.

  15. Dan J says:

    Fold Portland, St. Louis 2011

  16. Steve says:

    In other news Christian Vieri is on trial with the Galaxy.

    link to sportsillustrated.cnn.com

  17. Matt in SF says:

    @ Dannyc58

    It has been widely reported that both Vancouver and Portland each paid $35 million for their expansion fee. MLS was initially asking $40 – 50 million but it’s not surprising that the fee was reduced in light of the changing economic situation. Montreal offered much less to MLS, so I don’t think they were competitive from MLS’ standpoint.

  18. DC Josh says:

    That is A LOT of money to make up. I don’t know how a former USL side will do that. It’s going to be interesting as it pans out…

  19. Dannyc58 says:

    Matt in SF,

    Can you find me any article that says that?

    Thanks in advance.

  20. jin says:

    Did MLS learn NOTHING from San Antonio?! Am I the ONLY one who remembers that?!

  21. ko'd says:

    Steve,

    I have read about this, but I don’t see anything in that article stating that Vieri “is on trial.” Rather, the article states, “Christian Vieri allegedly has flown to Los Angeles for a trial with the Galaxy, according to Italian magazine Chi.”

    First, “allegedly” does not mean he DID go on trial. Second, “Chi” hardly sets the standard for fact-checking and forthrightness in football journalism.

  22. nate says:

    Merritt should just use $15 million more of Daddy’s money.

  23. 747 says:

    Portland has it in the bag.

    I am one more Sounders fan in support of this move by MLS. The triad is set in place

    Whitecaps – Sounders – Timbers

    As you have seen with the Sounders support so far.. The PNW will continue to be all time.

  24. Garrett says:

    @BFBS

    Like I said. The commissioner who wanted to pull out the URD didn’t do so because he was opposed to it. He just wanted the county to be at the table when they discussed it. He wasn’t opposed to a new URD in the least.

    The county chair Ted Wheeler showed up at the vote crying about the county being left out of the loop when in fact the county ignored the whole thing right up until the day of the vote. I for one attended the public meetings of the task force and everyone knew about the new URD in question. Wheeler introduced a bit of political theater so the county can negotiate a little more money out of the deal.

    If anyone really thinks this is a big issue and the expansion bid will be rescinded by MLS they’re kidding themselves. The only people in Portland that get all excited about stuff like this are the NIMBYs who are grasping at straws hoping to find something they can point to so they can say they were right.

  25. madmax says:

    MLS cannot look at Seattle and Toronto alone as a reason for rapid expansion. MLS has a handful of weak sisters who may or should fold. A delay in Portland may be a good thing.

  26. TheKingofNorway says:

    I’m a former Portlander, now longtime Seattleite and Sounders fan. I’d love to see the Timbers make the MLS.

  27. fubar says:

    Nate – In total agreement. Help daddy spend all of that dough he took out of Goldman Sachs and our pockets through the AIG debacle. $15 mil is chump change compared the $13 BILLION GS raped the US taxpayer of.

  28. BFBS says:

    Garrett,

    I was only addressing the second paragraph of your initial comment, and I certainly appreciate the insight in the first paragraph as well as your further elaboration in your response to me. But who are these NIMBYs you speak of?

  29. Zaggy says:

    A NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) are basically all the whiney people that never want anything built that would change anything in thier lives, and Portland has its share.

    Garrett is right, the URD was ALREADY going to be created (the process started several years ago, and will be able to bond over $500 million). The main beneficiaries are Portland State University, and portions of NW Portland that have recently seen industrial companies move, leaving large parking lots and buildings with no tenants. It also benefits Lincoln HS (which is like 2 blocks from PGE) by rebuilding the school, so obviously this is nothing new, and the Timbers only want $15 million of the $500 million available.

    This WILL be done, its just posturing by the county (whose tax base will be affected by this for the next 20 years) to make it into an issue (stadium financing is easier to raise concern about than rebuilding run-down high schools). They usually haven’t been contacted when they are made, and want to be part of that process, thats all.

  30. cam says:

    portland (actually the whole pac nw since he went all in there, but especially portland) is garber’s baby. he’d never let it fail. if neccessary, i dont think it would be too hard to find someone to buy in to paulson’s franchise for 15 million.

    garber and the league would lose a lot of face if a team in the pac nw jumped the shark

  31. Jeff Parke says:

    Let me step in and fix the situation. After all, I have done such a great job managing my career this past off-season.

  32. Sammy the Sounder says:

    Piss off Portland!!!!!!

    Go SOUNDERS!!!!

  33. Matt says:

    No Sounders fans wants to see Portland’s bid fail.

    The $35 million fee was leaked within a day or two of the Portland announcement. I could be wrong, but I may have heard it straight from Paulson in a video.

    All this was known to MLS when they announced the franchise. I don’t think the bid is in trouble. Certainly no more than it was in on 3/20.

    Old news, slow news day.

  34. Oog says:

    This happened with RSLs stadium. The owner (Dave Checketts) wanted the state to pick up a hefty tab for the stadium and they didn’t want to. It took the governor stepping in and giving the funds. Almost lost the team. A lot of people in Utah are still bitter about the stadium being paid for by tax money.

    I think this sort of thing happens all of the time when it comes to professional sports.

  35. dieterhansi says:

    Slightly off topic but we must

  36. dub says:

    damn Portland tree-huggers, get a job and pay the bill!!!

    Sounders for life!!!

  37. SBGarrett says:

    I’m sure there’s a joke in here…

    If a timber falls, does Seattle make a sound?

  38. ryan says:

    LOL @ the people of Portland for building Hank Paulson’s boy a football stadium.

  39. KCB says:

    What about the Vegas guy that wants in on MLS? I’m sure he could close the gap and they could cut him some kind of a deal or something.

  40. JL says:

    great, start a fundraiser. If politicians can grab millions from people and then lie to us about their ideals, then surely we can shell out 15 mil for a good cause. this brings people together. I can’t wait for Portland and Vancouver to start. I can’t wait to see the level of hooliganism those three cities are capable of, lol.

  41. Garrett says:

    Oklahoma Sonics…

    Safeco Field

    Qwest Field

    It’s almost laughable to hear a Seattlite talk about publically funded stadiums. Thanks and come again.

  42. Carl-Eric says:

    I’m a Sounders fan currently living in Portland. Yes, its dangerous territory. But I have to say that there is little more exciting than the prospect of the Timbers joining MLS and I will support the Portland big with all I have to see the PNW soccer, MLS, and soccer in America grow! This is good for everyone!

  43. oh danny boy says:

    AAAH! I DON’T KNOW!… I hate the Timbers with all my heart, I mean I have absolute pure hatred for them, but! They deserve one more than Dallas does. The fan support the Timbers get is amazing (even though I hate you Portscum). Ok, so I guess I did make my mind up, I’m in support of them getting a team, this way I can hate you even more and mock you after the Sounders destroy all your hopes in dreams! Did I mention that I have pure hatred in my heart.

  44. Kevin Durant says:

    Feck off Flounders!!!!

  45. oh danny boy says:

    Kevin Durant is that really you?! How’s OKC? Wait, did you just say feck? You’re not really KD! LIAR!

  46. sammysounder says:

    Ha ha!

    Timbers are losing before they even make it to the league!

  47. David Lee Roth says:

    Garrett? is that you?

    Its been so long since our Art School days… back when you sported Sounders colors in the Kingdome.. We’d hook up with those fellas from Federal Way and have a hellva good time… remember?

    What made you switch sides Garrett?

    I REALLY miss gettin’ funny in the back of my Car…

    Tchau!

  48. Garrett says:

    @David Lee Roth

    Dave, it’s been so long. Let’s get together and read Perez Hilton together soon and watch Kevin Durant and Jeff Green play a game or two.

  49. Sterlinho says:

    Nothing would delight me more than to see Portscum’s MLS dreams fall through the cracks. I thought “promotion” was given to USL-1 teams with championships. Portland will always be Seattle’s New Jersey.

  50. SSFC09 says:

    hahahahah! nice one Sterlinho. P*rtscum will get in, they need something to cheer for in one of the unhappiest city’s in the nation. The Caps, Timbers, and Sounders will define american soccer for years to come. Cascadia cup lives! Heritage cup just added two more clubs! PNW pwnage is coming to your town!

  51. Knuckles says:

    I think Portland will get in, I just don’t like how Paulson is doing it (the stadium, that is, not the team itself). I, too, hate the Timbers more than any other team on the face of the earth. Even more than the A’s, but not having the Timbers and the Whitecaps in the same league as the Sounders is just plain wrong.

  52. Fred Smilek says:

    WE NEED THAT TEAM!!!!!!!!

    ______
    The Society to Save Endangered Species was formed by Fred Smilek and two of his colleagues; Charlie Mack & Jonathan Korny. Fred Smilek stays active in raising awareness for this cause. [www.fredjsmilek.com]

  53. GermaneGackass says:

    Quick question from a huge US soccer fan who hasn’t followed the MLS very much. Why hasn’t San Diego been considered for a franchise? Talk about a built in stadium that fills when a friendly is played, built in soccer crazy populace, and perfect weather. Sounds like a no-brainer to me, but then again I guess we all know how well Vancouver etc do with North American professional leagues.

  54. manunited says:

    put the team in saint louis. that city will sell out the tickets faster than vancouver did.

  55. squirts says:

    Oh. My. Word. Merritt Paulson’s father has a net worth of around 700 million dollars. I know the welfare queen mindset exists in professional sports and what-not, but for craps sakes flip the bill for your own investment if you really care about us timbers fans.