June 19, 2009
Dear Mayor Adams and Commissioners:
Nearly one year ago when we announced our desire to bring Major League Soccer to Portland at PGE Park and to build a new and better home for Beavers baseball in Portland, we made it clear that for the plan to succeed it needed to enjoy support from both city leaders and Portland residents. After all, professional soccer and baseball should bring people together, not only to strengthen our economy but to strengthen our community as well. Since announcing our plan we have been gratified by the broad-based support our plan has received from so many; sports fans, business leaders, neighborhood leaders, organized labor and elected officials from Portland and across the state.
While the city council has voted to support bringing MLS to Portland at PGE Park, securing a location and funding plan for a new Triple-A stadium in Portland has been difficult. The Portland Beavers are a Portland tradition – with more than 100 years of history in this community. The recent challenges notwithstanding, Beavers baseball enjoys a strong following in this community, and in no way does the lack of public consensus about a new stadium for the Beavers reflect a lack of fan, sponsor and public support for Triple-A baseball.
Now, with the September 1 deadline to secure a funding plan to ready PGE Park for Major League Soccer fast approaching, it is critical that we reach an agreement to fund PGE Park improvements or risk losing the unique opportunity to bring MLS to Portland altogether. For this reason, and a lack of community support for a new Triple-A stadium in Lents, I am withdrawing our proposal for a Lents baseball stadium. I am grateful for the time and serious consideration the neighborhood leaders, city staff, elected officials and Lents residents have given this proposal the past few months, but it is now clear that the community-at-large has not embraced this idea.
Our immediate task ahead is to complete our agreement to bring MLS to Portland so we may begin play at PGE Park in 2011. As for the future of the Portland Beavers, I am committed to doing everything possible to keep in the Beavers in Portland or the Portland area. And I intend to work with area business, sports, government and community leaders to make that happen.
The economic, social and community good that will come from MLS and better Beavers baseball in our community is worth fighting for. Change is never easy, particularly during challenging times. But working together, I am confident we can seize this opportunity and overcome the challenges that remain to turning this idea into a reality for the people of our city, region and state.
Warm regards,
Merritt Paulson
CC: Cora Potter, Lents URAC