Portland sports columnist says Timbers need new stadium, they just don’t know it yet

AAAUGH stop it stop it stop it enough with the sports columnists stumping for new stadiums and arenas oh god here’s another one:

There are a lot of things that might be said on Sunday as the local Major League Soccer championship franchise raises its title banner. But with so many people standing outside, looking in, one has to be, “Can we move this party to a bigger room?!?”

I’m saying it. Not the Portland Timbers. It’s a delicate discussion given that the city, not the Timbers, owns the stadium. But it’s one that needs to happen.

Check that out: The MLS champion Portland Timbers aren’t demanding a new stadium, and in fact are just in year five of a 25-year lease for a stadium that just got a $40 million renovation, most of it at taxpayer expense. And the city isn’t talking about it either, as the column goes on to make clear:

“I can’t remember hearing a darned thing about it,” said commissioner Steve Novick.

Well, here we go then. The lid is officially blown off.

I have seen a lot of journalism in my day, but never before have I seen a columnist take credit for a scoop on information that he admittedly concocted in his own brain. Congratulations, John Canzano and the Oregonian, you have reached a new low, which is impressive given the competition.

14 comments on “Portland sports columnist says Timbers need new stadium, they just don’t know it yet

  1. If there is any team that NEEDS a bigger stadium, or at least an expansion of their current diggs, it’s the Portland Timbers. They have sold out EVERY game for the last 5 1/2 years. They recently expanded to 21,144, and they have a Season Ticket waiting list of close to 15K people!? Journalists SHOULD be saying it there!

  2. I believe the team is planning to add 1,000 or so seats behind the goal on the Multanomah Athletic Club side of the stadium

  3. If you can believe Canzano’s article linked above, a small-scale expansion like that would cost $10m and bring in only a little over $1m a year in revenue, which isn’t a great ratio. If the Timbers want to explore a bigger expansion, they should go for it — but it’s entirely possible that if the numbers don’t work out, they’ll just need to settle for being the Boston Red Sox of MLS.

  4. The journalist was not making this up. The team has already talked about their plans to expand the stadium. Apparently they just haven’t talked to the city council about it yet because they haven’t reached that point in the planning process. And your comment that most of the renovation came at taxpayer expense is flat out wrong: the team and city split the costs in the initial budget, and the team was responsible for any cost overruns (which there were). Canzano estimated in the comments section that the city paid $16-18 million while the team paid $24-27 million. And the city still owns the stadium.

  5. It depends on whether you count the team’s “prepaid rent” as a contribution to the stadium costs, or just as rent. Canzano’s figures in comments don’t match anything that his paper has reported.

    As for owning the stadium, that’s actually a liability. (What you want is to own the revenue streams.) The Timbers stadium deal was by no means a terrible one, but it did require significant public costs, which is why Portland got the Timbers to agree to that long-term lease in exchange.

  6. “If there is any team that NEEDS a bigger stadium, or at least an expansion of their current diggs, it’s the Portland Timbers.”

    Your definition of “need” is one with which I’m unfamiliar.

  7. Part of the Timbers’ “contribution” to the cost of refurbishing the stadium (and by the way, the previous remodeling still hadn’t been paid off) was naming rights to the publicly-owned stadium. Sorry, amount is a secret because … well, just because. I checked with the city if I could sell naming rights to the area of the publicly-owned street which runs in front of my house, but was told that’s not allowed. Maybe if I was a member of the Paulson family which owns the Timbers. That’s Paulson as in Henry (former Goldman Sachs head honcho and U.S. Treasury Secretary, net worth estimated at $700 million) and his son, Merritt.

  8. Canzano’s incompetence is legendary–if you think he’s a journalist. But he’s not, really. He’s an agitator. The editorial policy of the O’s sports page has long been to get people riled up and talking, rather than to report actual news. The “draft the ‘stache” fiasco, his hounding of Rasheed Wallace, his utter inability to wrap his mind around the NBA CBA while still insisting on making public comments about it… His columns are intended as provocations, not as any kind of analysis. This is no exception.

    Yes, Timbers matches sell out. Why? Because Portland has fans, and it’s a fun scene. Is there room for expansion? Yes, that may be warranted, and Canzano says as much, but that’s not his purpose here. Instead, he has to raise the bogeyman of tearing down a local landmark in a town that has a precious habit of adoring its own local landmarks to build… what exactly? It’s just the O being the O, Canzano doing the Canzano thing.

  9. theterminizer-

    Do you want to own my house since you are so interested in owning things? I mean I will still live here and have total control over it, but you get to pay the property tax! Good deal!

  10. What the city really needs to do is find a new home for PSU’s football team, so that they can install grass in Providence Park so that everyone outside of Portland can stop complaining that it doesn’t have grass.

  11. If there the Boxsox of MLS they should lay claim to all the surrounding streets and air rights.

  12. Check the owner’s Twitter feed @MerrittPaulson. If they expand the park it will be 100% privately paid. So Portland’s streak of having the smallest public subsidy for professional sports stadia (for cities with big 4/5 sports franchises) will continue for the time being.