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March 10, 2009
Portland soccer deal reached, headed to council
The soccer stadium standoff in Portland is over, with would-be MLS expansion team owner Merritt Paulson and city officials agreeing on an $88.8 million plan to renovate the city's existing minor-league baseball stadium for soccer, while building a new baseball-only park as well. The deal, which now goes to the Portland city council for approval, uses a hodge-podge of funding sources to get to $88.8 million:
- $24.3 million from Paulson himself, though he may seek to recoup some of that from public sources, such as $5 million in player income-tax kickbacks from the state.
- $31 million in rent payments, ticket taxes, and hotel and rental-car taxes in the city's arena district.
- $15 million in kickbacks of increased property taxes from a downtown tax-increment financing district.
- $18.5 million in public urban renewal funds.
Depending on how some of these are broken down, then, it looks like anywhere from 38%-50% public money, which is better than some deals, certainly, though not necessarily better than a carrot. To help form your own opinion, you can read the arguments by political consultant Jeremy Wright, who thinks it's a worthwhile investment in public infrastructure, and Oregon state representative Nick Kahl, who thinks it's a misuse of urban renewal money.