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Portland MLS expansion


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Guys, according to the Oregonian news, it now appears that Portland is suddenly back in the radar screen for a possible MLS expansion. With all these sudden changes in motion, it is obvious that the race is getting much hotter for all the contending cities who are fighting for a bid. If the Portland deal goes through, it will be a revival of the old NASL North-Western Pacific rivalry between the 3 clubs: Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers.


MLS sets second expansion-study Portland visit

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Oregonian

Major League Soccer's top brass plans to revisit Portland today to analyze more closely the possibility of fielding an expansion team at PGE Park, officials said Tuesday.

MLS commissioner Don Garber and league president Mark Abbott are scheduled to meet this afternoon with Merritt Paulson, who is negotiating to bring the highest level of U.S. soccer to Portland. In May, Paulson became owner of the Portland Timbers soccer franchise, which plays one notch below MLS, and the Portland Beavers, a Triple A baseball team.

After talks today, Garber and Abbott plan to watch the 7 p.m. exhibition between the U.S. and Mexican women's soccer teams at PGE Park. Garber did not have a chance to see the stadium in "game condition" for a significant event when he first inspected PGE Park in March, said Dan Courtemanche, a league senior vice president.

"I'm sure they want to talk about the stadium and what it might take to bring it up to MLS standards," Courtemanche said.

Paulson, who declined to comment for this story, said last week that the stadium could be updated to league standards for less than $20 million.

MLS plans to award four expansion teams by 2012. League officials have confirmed that Seattle and Portland could both receive franchises.

Garber and Abbott, based in New York, will not visit Seattle during their trip west, Courtemanche said.

"The trip to Portland is not necessarily an indicator of which market is at the top of the list for expansion," he said. "But it does indicate a strong interest in Portland."

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This article is very interesting. It finally mentions Montreal as a running candidate for an MLS bid.


MLS boss impressed with Portland's passion

Money -- about $50 million -- will decide if the city gets an expansion team

Thursday, October 18, 2007


The Oregonian

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said he felt Portland's passion for the sport Wednesday.

From his chauffeur, who plays in an adult league, to the buzz at City Hall about Wednesday night's exhibition at PGE Park between the U.S. and Mexico women's national teams.

"You get the feeling this is a passionate soccer community, which is very positive for Portland's chances for MLS expansion," Garber said.

But how much will it cost to bring PGE Park up to MLS standards? Determining that amount -- probably more than $20 million -- has become the next step in the bid to bring the highest level of U.S. soccer to Portland.

The league probably will name Seattle and an East Coast city as sites for the newest franchises, to begin play in 2009, Garber said. Portland is vying for one of two more expansion teams that would begin play in 2010 or 2011, he said. The competition includes Atlanta, Montreal, San Diego, St. Louis and Vancouver, B.C.

Garber has a willing Portland owner in Merritt Paulson. The son of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson in May purchased the Portland Timbers soccer team, which competes in a league one notch below MLS, and the Portland Beavers, a Triple A baseball club.

Garber and MLS president Mark Abbott met Paulson for lunch Wednesday at the Heathman Hotel downtown before moving to City Hall for talks with Portland officials. Garber and Abbott capped their one-day visit by watching the United States defeat Mexico 4-0 at city-owned PGE Park.

"This is a soccer town, and not just because you call it that, because it truly is," Garber said before the game. "I feel it when I'm in this city. It's nice."

Money, however, will ultimately determine whether Portland gets a second major league sports franchise. Paulson said he will finance a feasibility study to determine the costs of remaking PGE Park into a stadium suitable for MLS. He hopes to learn the results within a month.

MLS also will charge new owners a $30 million expansion fee.

Among the PGE Park upgrades Garber and Paulson envision: grandstand seating on the stadium's vacant east side, a new playing surface and more restrooms and concessions.

Initial renovations probably could be done for less than $20 million, Paulson said. But turning the stadium into a home designed just for soccer and football will cost more. Long-term, a new home for the Beavers elsewhere in the city would need to be built, which could cost another $30 million, Paulson said.

"I believe Portland wants and deserves a major league facility right here downtown, and we're not far from that," Paulson said.

City commissioner and mayoral candidate Sam Adams, at the meeting Wednesday with Garber, Abbott and Paulson, said he was excited by the interest of MLS in Portland. At the same time, Adams said, "We have a lot of work to do to determine what our prospects are and what a sound business decision it might be for everyone."

He stressed "there isn't any stomach . . . to take money from basic services for MLS."

Possible revenue sources for PGE Park renovations include ticket fees and using taxes on player salaries to pay off bonds, Adams said.

"With the right level of investment from the owner," Adams said, "with the right kind of fan-base support, with the right level of corporate sponsorship, and revenues derived from the soccer team and the facility itself, it is possible to put together a deal that could be successful here."

Much more work lies ahead.

"We're probably halfway there," Garber said. "It could come back the feasibility study says it's going to cost too much and there's no appetite on either the city's part or Merritt's part or both."

Boaz Herzog: 503-412-7072; boherzog@gmail.com

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Check out this radio interview Don Garber gave to a couple of douche-bag sports talk radio guys in Portland:


They start off the interview by asking him "Are you out of your mind?" re: MLS's interest to put a team in Portland and then prematurely finish the interview by cutting him off mid-sentence when he was trying to answer one of their questions & then once they dumped him off the air they rip into him for not answering their question!

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