The Portland Timbers deal keeps moving backwards: The latest came on Friday, when team owner Merritt Paulson declared that if the city moves the associated minor-league baseball stadium for his Beavers franchise to Lents Park as is being considered, then the whole deal would need to be renegotiated from scratch:
“The only way Lents is on the table as an official option is if we can reach a financial deal with the city first,” Paulson said. “And it’s going to be a very different financial deal than we have at Memorial Coliseum. We’re starting from scratch.” … “I can’t see doing anything like that anywhere else other than the coliseum site. That’s such an unusually good site that we really extended ourselves in terms of personal protections.”
That’s not quite “Rose Quarter or the highway,” but it certainly looks like Paulson is trying to dissuade city officials from seriously considering Lents. If so, the fate of the deal could all depend on what city commissioner Dan Saltzman considers due diligence in finding alternatives to knocking down Memorial Coliseum to make way for a baseball stadium: If he’s just trying to cover his butt to please preservationists, he can now use Paulson’s statement to say there are no alternatives; if he’s really out to avoid demolition, though, Paulson could be painting himself into a corner.
And, let’s not forget, there’s still the matter of the missing $15 million, which has mostly dropped from discussion during the siting debate. There’s a lot to be resolved between now and Paulson’s September deadline.