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Scott Silver

Soccer City, USA?

OPB | March 4, 2009 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:49 p.m.

adam benjamin / Flickr / Creative Commons None

Portland may soon be home to a second professional sports franchise. The Portland Timbers, Portland’s minor league soccer team, are making a bid to join the big league — Major League Soccer — the top tier for professional soccer in the United States. All that’s standing in their way are the Portland City Council, the maneuverings of other cities currently in the running for the MLS expansion slot, and the matter of about $85 million dollars.

Portland may soon be home to a second top-tier professional sports franchise. The Portland Timbers, Portland’s minor league soccer team, are making a bid to join Major League Soccer, the highest level level soccer league in the United States. Standing in their way: the Portland City Council, the maneuverings of other cities currently in the running for MLS expansion slots, and the matter of about $85 million dollars.

Here’s how the plan would work: Team owner Merritt Paulson (son of former treasury secretary Henry Paulson) wants to renovate PGE park and build a new home for his other local team, the Triple-A baseball Portland Beavers. (This is where the $85 million comes in handy.) The PGE renovations would give the Timbers a more competitive bid for one of the two MLS expansion teams up for grabs. Portland is up against Miama, Ottowa, St. Louis and Vancouver, BC for the opportunity to join the league in 2011.

Paulson says a franchise would create jobs and help build community. Detractors of the plan say the finances don’t pencil out.

What do you think? Should city dollars be spent to help the Timbers join the MLS?  What does the city, and the state, have to gain? How much risk is it worth?

Are you a soccer fan? What would having an MLS team mean to you?

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