Monday, March 9, 2009

MLS in Portland: Can Portland Afford Not To?

The Oregonian once again endorses the idea of bringing an MLS team to Portland. I support it because I am pretty confident that in ten years, it will be seen as one of those brave decisions that ended up being a tremendous boon for Portland. But as always, I am quick to admit that I am a big soccer fan and would benefit from it a lot personally. But MLS is now a solid league with tremendous future potential - there is no other reason franchise fees have increased so dramatically. The market now realizes that the once fledgling league is on solid ground with purpose built stadia and a link to the enormous worldwide soccer market. Portland could very well be the crown jewel franchise - it will, without a doubt, have the very best stadium. Even this stadium being built by Red Bull, while shiny and new, will be in the suburbs. Portland, to go along with its European-like reputation, will have a European-like urban stadium. But caution, Mr. Paulson: it has to be real grass, NO TURF!

However, there does seem to be one thing that has not been discussed much and that is the alternative - where will Portland be in a few years without MLS? Civic Stadium (oops, PGE park) is too big for minor league baseball and it is likely that the Beavers will not be there for long - even if this bid for MLS fails. PSU football brings in a paltry revenue but depends on the stadium. So it is quite probably that in a few years, Portland will have an empty stadium on its hands with debt and no revenue. It seems to me that the city should think hard about what's next if they don't back the MLS.

Oh, and by the way, can anyone tell me what the entirely incoherent column by The O's Ryan White on Sunday was all about? I have read it multiple times and I still can't figure it out.


Pete! said...

The amusing column surveys the political and economic panorama of the Portland MLS proposal, with exaggerated emphasis on some of assumptions and claims (some divorced of context for further effect) in order to try to amuse, ridicule, raise eyebrows, and provide reading entertainment. The absurdity-seeking humor dribbles away near the end of the column as the author makes common-sense statements against some of the assumptions behind some of the arguments. I think the main point is that the author wants the reader to be alert to further absurd assumptions in the ongoing debates... Finally I would like to note that it's gratifying when economists need the assistance of English majors to wallow through the ambiguities of meaning. Cheers. And thanks for all your good blog work.

Patrick Emerson said...

Ah, thank goodness for english majors!