Major League Soccer Poses Major League Problems in Portland, OR
There are three vital components to a city's economy. One, the city's citizens. Two, the amount of tourism said city supports in a given year. And three, the amount of professional sports franchises located in said city.
Well, the third answer may not be as vital as it seems, but professional sports franchises can be great investments of time and money.
Even though our country's economy is not as prosperous as it has been in years past, sports fanatics are still flocking to the arenas, the coliseums, and the stadiums to watch their favorite franchises fight.
Think about how much worse off the economy of Pittsburgh, PA would be if their beloved Penguins and Steelers were not in town.
You may be wondering where I am going with this.
The city of Portland, OR has one single professional sports franchise, the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association.
However, in 2011, the city of Portland will be granted an expansion team through Major League Soccer.
The Portland Timbers, currently residing in the United Soccer Leagues 1st Division, will cease to exist in said division, and will enter Major League Soccer along with an expansion team from Vancouver, BC.
While this new professional sports franchise will most certainly attract many fans and help to bolster the city's economy, there are already surfacing problems due to the expansion of Major League Soccer.
It has been declared that the city of Portland will renovate it's current multipurpose stadium, PGE Park, to make it a soccer-only venue.
Because of this declared renovation, two teams that also call PGE Park home will have to look for new homes before the stadium is renovated.
The semi-professional Portland Beavers, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, will be forced to either leave the city of Portland or persuade the city to build them a brand new facility, although it will be much smaller than their current home.
The Beavers have looked at many possible locations to build their new stadium, but all have been rejected. It looks as if the Beavers may be playing their final season in Portland.
Portland State University currently uses PGE Park to host their football team's home games.
In the past, when PGE Park was under renovation, the Vikings played their home games at Hillsboro Stadium in Hillsboro, OR.
However, this was a special consideration by the Big Sky conference. Hillsboro Stadium fell below the conference's minimum capacity requirements for football stadiums.
If the city of Hillsboro were able to pay for a major expansion of the stadium, including building an eastside grandstand identical to the westside grandstand, and connecting the grandstands with endzone seats, the stadium would just maybe have enough seats to fulfill the conference's requirements.
There is one gigantic problem with this proposal. The city of Hillsboro does not have the money to fund a stadium expansion. The city can barely afford to fund it's schools. How could the city take on a multi-million dollar stadium expansion as well?
The Vikings could be saved if PGE Park's management agrees to keep housing them. Take the Seattle Sounders for example. The Sounders play their home games in Quest Field, also home to the Seattle Seahawks.
If the Vikings and Timbers were able to work out a compromise together, I am certain that the Vikings could stay put.
But if any problem outweighs another, it has to be the Beavers' pursuit of land to build their new stadium. One of the city council members said he would only vote to bring the Timbers into Major League Soccer if the city could find an area to build the Beavers a new ballpark.
I am not sure if council members can rescind their votes, but if they can, the Beavers' new stadium will be the make-or-break factor in promoting the Timbers into Major League Soccer.
I sincerely hope that the Beavers can find a suitable location to build their stadium. It would allow the Timbers to elevate to professional status, and would also help draw many fans to the games.
What would "Soccer-City USA" be without a professional soccer team?
The fate of the Timbers lies in the hands of the Portland Beavers. Someone please step up to the plate and allow them to build their stadium. You will be doing more good than you think.
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