Wednesday, February 11, 2009

MLS in Portland, Baseball at the Rose Quarter?

The Oregonian is reporting that the Blazers have thrown their hat into the ring asking Merritt Paulson and the City to consider a AAA baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter. I think it is a good idea.

I have said before and I'll say it again, don't look to professional sports to drive economic growth overall, but sports teams and stadia can be focal points for local investment. As the Rose Quarter a bit depressingly moribund, I think this idea makes a lot of sense. There is already a lot going on in the area, the city is considering a big convention center hotel and the transportation links are in place. Lents is also a good idea but the chance of subsequent investment that can be transformative is less certain (especially in the short term). Having a local partner in the Rose Quarter will help with overall event planning and related business development.

And, by the way, would a PGE Park renovation and a new AAA ballpark be economic stimulus? Yes, assuming they can get started relatively quickly (within a year) - same can be said of a convention center hotel. Construction costs have fallen considerably (steel prices are much lower than in recent times) and labor should be pretty cheap right now, so there is a lot to be said for undertaking such projects right now. On the other hand, revenue projections in the short term are going to have to adjust for the economic realities of the times which could weigh on the bond servicing issue.

I do think that the rationale for these moves are backed up by economic theory and evidence, but I make no secret to being a soccer fan and MLS supporter so I am inclined to support any effort to land a team...

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