While Commissioner Randy Leonard has committed to voting against the Major League Soccer deal going forward now that Beavers/Timbers owner Merritt Paulson announced he's done with the baseball stadium proposal in Lents, Mayor Sam Adams announced this afternoon that "the City's mission is clear: focus our energies on guaranteeing that Portland is the new home of a Major League Soccer team."
While we wait for Adams spokesman Roy Kaufmann to return calls, here's Adams' statement:
First, I want to acknowledge all the hard work that community members, City staff, the citizens serving on the Lents Urban Renewal Advisory Committee, and our partner, Merritt Paulson, have invested into evaluating and discussing the proposal to locate AAA baseball in the Lents community. These discussions are always difficult, complicated and time-consuming. I appreciate the focus and patience people have exhibited in working through the issues.
As I've made clear throughout the AAA baseball conversations, this proposal could only move forward with the explicit support of the Lents community. It has become clear in conversations with neighborhood residents that community support for the proposal isn't there.
To reinforce that fact, this morning, Merritt Paulson informed City Council and the leadership of the Lents URAC that he is withdrawing his proposal to locate a baseball stadium in Lents.
Merritt and the Beavers organization are looking at their options moving forward on siting baseball. In the meantime, the City's mission is clear: focus our energies on guaranteeing that Portland is the new home of a Major League Soccer team.
In the coming weeks, I will lead the effort on working with Merritt to reach agreement on a financial package for renovations to PGE Park that meets the city's financial and community needs while meeting the requirements of major league soccer.
We have a great opportunity ahead of us now. Major League Soccer is a family-friendly amenity for all Portlanders and soccer fans across the region. PGE Park is the right venue for the sport. And, renovation to PGE Park will create construction jobs at a time when unemployment in the building industry in our region is at an all-time high.
Moving forward, I will continue to adhere to the Citizen's Task Force principles of protecting the city's general fund from risk, leveraging maximum private investment, and not impacting in any way funding for City basic services. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on City Council, at the County, and with other key stakeholders to bring professional Soccer to Portland.