Those protestors in Lents have to be thinking, “That was easy”: Portland Beavers owner Merritt Paulson withdrew his plan for a minor-league baseball stadium today, saying he wanted to instead focus on finalizing plans for a soccer stadium for his expansion Timbers team. As for the Beavers, he said he’s committed to keeping them “in Portland or the Portland area.”
It may or may not have been intentional, but Paulson has now pulled off a series of switches even slicker than his dad managed last fall. Let’s recap:
- Two years after buying the Beavers and minor-league Timbers franchises, Paulson wangles an invitation to move up to Major League Soccer in 2011, provided he has a soccer-only stadium.
- Paulson presents Portland with a no-lose proposition: He’ll build a new stadium for the Beavers, and renovate their current home park to be soccer-only. And all he’ll need is $30 million or so in tax money.
- Everyone freaks out about where to put the baseball stadium. Paulson freaks out about the freaking out.
- Mayor Sam Adams says, “We don’t need to worry about baseball to get soccer done.”
- Paulson: “What is this ‘baseball’ of which you speak?”
While nobody knows what the soccer stadium deal will look like now — it was only presented previously as a package deal — Paulson is potentially sitting pretty, as the city has already identified a whole pile of different public revenue streams, any of which could cover the soccer costs if the baseball stadium is scrapped. Meanwhile, Paulson now gets to play “Who Wants To Build Me a Baseball Stadium?” with the Portland suburbs — both Hillsboro and Vancouver, Washington have been mentioned as possibilities — and at worst, he’s traded in two minor-league teams for one big-league one and a AAA baseball franchise that he can move or sell or whatever, which is a good swap however you want to count it. “Hey, how about you build me a new soccer stadium and make my baseball team a free agent?” isn’t a deal he likely could have gotten if he’d proposed it back in March, but what’s important is how you get there, or something.