Diamond a better bet than an oval
Dispelling a few myths:
• There is a local movement afoot to build an oval track for stock car racing, and I'm not necessarily against it. While the sport is not my cup of tea, I recognize that it's growing.
But to economically equate the impact of such a facility, even if it seats 80,000 people, to a major league ballpark that seats half that many is folly. Sure, you'll have one glorious race weekend where you'll pack that big monster. But in the long run, you'll get much more of a financial boost from the ballpark, which will play host to 81 home games a season.
And another thing: A major league ballpark will be built in the heart of town, where it can best rub off on hotels, restaurants and bars. The stock car oval Ñ or a pro football stadium, for that matter Ñ would need to be constructed out in the sticks someplace. It's the only way that makes any sense for a facility that doesn't get much use.
And don't forget that the racing venue will sit empty through a good part of the year. There aren't too many other events you can put into it that will draw anything close to the crowd it would be built to handle. Other auto races would have trouble filling even half of those seats.
Honestly, the place that I could envision for a big auto-racing oval is somewhere north of Vancouver, Wash. This racetrack will draw from all over Oregon and Washington. And hey Ñ that way we wouldn't have to pay for it.
Our mayor is fussing around trying to clean up the mess that is PGE Park, and a lot of people think that has to be done before the city can deal with the task of chasing major league baseball.
Actually, if she'd deal with a plan to go after the Montreal Expos, it would solve all her PGE Park problems. Let the Pacific Coast League operate the Beavers this season. If the Expos come next year, the PCL will be reimbursed with a territorial fee and PGE Park will flourish while being used as an interim stadium (that will be sold out every game).
I just hate the idea that the hardest part of the stadium financing, the bill in Salem, has been done but this city can't get its act together enough to finish it up.
And for those of you who still cling to the belief that Portland has no chance of getting the Expos, I'm sorry Ñ that's not what I'm hearing.
Washington, D.C., is not ready, and neither is northern Virginia. The sites outside the United States make no sense. Baseball has said it wants this to be the last season operating in Montreal. Portland can get this team almost by default if it gets the financing package put together.
It would be a crying shame to come this far and not put the finishing touches on the thing.
• I don't care how hot you think your NBA team is, it really isn't on fire until it wins a road game over a quality team. Sometimes the schedule can lead you to some cheap wins, and the Trail Blazers have profited from playing some of the league's weak sisters of late.
I'm not saying things aren't better. They are. The Blazers have come a long way in a short amount of time. And they're fun to watch. But let's not be going too crazy until the team chalks up a couple of big-time road wins over teams bound for the Western Conference playoffs.