April 22nd, 2009 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, Sports, City Hall, Business

Swing Vote Saltzman Wavering On Soccer/Baseball Deal

Baseball MLS Rose Quarter

City Commissioner Dan Saltzman walked into last week's hearing at City Hall on Portland's controversial stadium-building deal with Merritt Paulson prepared to offer a new amendment calling for a 120-day "time out" on Mayor Sam Adams' rushed deal.

Instead, out of "deference to the mayor," Saltzman says he withheld the amendment on the city's deal with Paulson, owner of the Timbers soccer team and the Beavers baseball franchise.

Saltzman, of course, was the swing vote on the council March 11, when this deal won initial approval. His proposed (and until now, unreported) amendment sheds new light on Adams' announcement Monday that he would postpone three key votes on the soccer-baseball deal and reconsider the best use of Memorial Coliseum. At the time it appeared Adams was bowing to public opinion that called for saving Memorial Coliseum. Now it appears the mayor may have thought he was on the verge of losing his third vote.

Last night, Saltzman says he came to the conclusion that the proposed Rose Quarter redevelopment scheme calling for a new baseball stadium and an entertainment district south of Broadway is still moving too fast, despite a second one-week delay on finalizing the deal.

Citing lack of process, his own nostalgia for Memorial Coliseum (and a long-ago Jethro Tull concert) and increasingly troublesome questions about the deal's financing, Saltzman says he told the mayor he wants to decouple the Major League Soccer deal from the Rose Quarter redevelopment.

Wouldn't that imply Saltzman opposes the pre-development agreement, since it ties construction of a new baseball stadium to the city's deal with Paulson to bring MLS to Portland?

"Yeah," Saltzman told WW. "I didn't say it [to Adams] in those black-and-white terms. I'm still going to listen to what he has to say about what he may come back with, but that's the way I'm feeling now."

Saltzman added that he's not opposed to bringing a baseball stadium to the Rose Quarter (or north of Broadway on the site of Portland Public Schools' headquarters) at some later date. For now, however, he says "the Beavers are going to have to find another location to play. They're going to need to find another location to play if in fact they can't use the MLS stadium on a temporary basis."

Saltzman wouldn't say how he would have voted today if the mayor had asked for a decision, but he cast doubt on the likelihood of a "yes" vote next week. "This is the way I'm feeling right now, and that will likely be reflected if this came to a head next week," Saltzman said.
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