On March 11, 2009, the Council voted 3-2 to move forward on renovating the renovated PGE Park stadium to make it fit for Major League Soccer, and to build a new AAA baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter. Commissioner Fish and I voted against the deal.
$89m in public money from urban renewal bonds, ticket taxes, state income taxes on franchise salaries, and parking revenues, will be dedicated to the project. Maybe. The Council voted 5-0 to remove $15m in funding from an as-yet unformed urban renewal area around PGE Park, and as of 3/15/09 4/18/09 4/21/09, I don't know how that funding gap will be filled. Would-be MLS owner Merritt Paulson paid $35 million for the franchise, granted by the MLS Powers-that-Be, and back some of the public investment with his personal funds. The total cost of the deal is over $207 million, counting over $154 million in interest which is paid by taxpayers-at-large.
I will continue to watch this project carefully as it moves forward, looking for ways to save taxpayers money and safeguard workers. The deal proposed on 3/11/09 did not contain any language ensuring that workers will be paid living wages. The City of Portland is currently subsidizing the wages paid to stadium workers for Mr. Paulson's Beavers baseball team, at a cost of $150,000/year, to bring the pay up to fair wage standards.
The next vote on the deals and siting the new stadium is due Wednesday, 4/29/09 at 3 p.m.