Timbers plan $50m privately funded stadium expansion, not outraging anyone at all

The Portland Timbers owners are planning to spend $50 million of their own money on a 4,000-seat expansion of their 21,000-seat stadium:

…and that’s it, really. In a normal world, this would be an everyday occurrence: Team decides it can make more money with a bigger stadium, team spends the money to build it as an investment, team (hopefully) comes out ahead. It’s how sports worked in the pre-subsidy days of the 19th and early 20th centuries, it’s largely how sports works in Europe, and it’s only worthy of note here because the North American sports business model has become so based on getting public money for these things. It’s like a little taste of a happier world where I could retire this website and write about something else. (Not that I don’t write about other things too, but you know.)

As for the expansion itself, it’ll be a little freaky looking, with a vertically stacked stand that is supposed to recall the Globe Theater somehow filling in the gap in a more traditional sweeping, curved grandstand. Which is also fine: Piecemeal, jury-rigged stadium designs are also common in international soccer (in part because of that practice of expanding them only when the money is there), and the result should end up resembling Buenos Aires’ Boca JuniorsLa Bombanera. There’s really nothing at all to complain about here, so happy Friday!


9 comments on “Timbers plan $50m privately funded stadium expansion, not outraging anyone at all

  1. “In a normal world, this would be an everyday occurrence.”

    This, in a nutshell, is why I’m so hesitant to give the Timbers too much credit, if any at all. They’re essentially doing the bare minimum of what they and all these other franchises ought to be doing.

    • Also, they got about $30 million from taxpayers for their last renovation. But I’m happy to be happy about this latest turn of events, even if “grateful” would be pushing it.

  2. It’s going to be funny when MLS comes back and says it doesn’t make financial sense to add on to a building built in 1926 (and then they’ll get taxpayer money to build a stadium out in Tigard or Hood River :D)

    Happy Friday!

    • Let alone, the folks at HOK mentioned as much, during the talk of Providence Park being expanded for MLB. Yes, it could be done….with some major internal structural overhauls.

      Also…one has to wonder about the cantilevered nature of the extra levels.

    • Not going to happen. The owner has said repeatedly he will never leave the downtown site. The fanbase would rebel if the team moved to the suburbs, I guarantee that. Besides, MLS has no say on what can be done with a city-owned stadium.

  3. In the good old days before the city of Richmond decided to subsidize a minor league baseball team. Then MLB had its new business model to revive a dying sport. Extortion & Steroids.

    • Well, it’s certainly a plus to the bottom line to have help with building your buildings, but it’s wrong to think that MLB – or any other sport – was somehow saved by the invention of subsidies. More lucrative, sure. But they all have plenty of room on the expense side to survive without taxpayer assistance. And that’s why they should all be paying their own way.

  4. Yeah. Asymmetrical are cooler anyway, especially when different bits were built at different times.

  5. IIRC, the $30m was paid back entirely via ticket taxes. So, more like a loan than a giveaway to owner.

    Portland gives away virtually nothing in terms of stadium subsidies (part of the reason why their sports footprint is so small in relation to the size of the metro area), so it will be interesting to see what happens when Paul Allen decides that he wants to make some changes in the Rose Quarter.