November 8th, 2008 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Sports

Paulson to Portland: Read My Lip$

Merritt Paulson

Merritt Paulson, owner of the Portland Beavers and Timbers, wants the City of Portland to spend $85 million to renovate PGE Park for Major League Soccer and to build his Beavers a new ballpark.

That's a pretty big ask in the best of times, which these are not.

And Paulson, the son of U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is anything but another thinly-financed wannabe looking to leverage public financing. His father's wealth is estimated at north of $500 million.

As this New York Times article reiterated on Friday, Paulson wants to buy a Major League Soccer team but have taxpayers fund all stadium construction and improvements.

That would be an unusually good deal for him. A study prepared for the city recently found that none of the 10 recent soccer stadiums developed around the country have been financed entirely with public money, as Paulson proposes to do here.

Although Paulson and City Commissioner Randy Leonard initially suggested building the new baseball stadium in Lents, mayor-elect Sam Adams wants to explore other locations, including the current site of Memorial Coliseum, as WW reported this week.

The location may determine whether a deal is feasible. That's because synergies with existing parking, lightrail and a proposed Convention Center hotel could make replacing the aging Memorial Coliseum with a new ballpark palatable to a variety of interests.

It's also unlikely in tough economic times that an entirely publicly financed project has legs.

But as for the public contribution, Paulson told the New York Times he's not in the mood to dicker.

“This is not a negotiation,” Paulson told the Times. “The $85 million is it.”
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