Portland Family Entertainment is behind in its payments on PGE Park. Now there's a real surprise. We predicted it way before the big barn even got its facelift.
This project has been a mess ever since our civic 'leaders' ramrodded PFE's stadium proposal through the City Council. Sold a bill of goods about how much revenue could be created with Triple-A baseball and A-League soccer, they drew up agreements that were equal parts fantasy and wishful thinking.
I mean, if you didn't know the facts, you'd think minor league baseball in Portland has been a big flop for the last two summers. The reality is, it has never been more successful. We're coming off two seasons of record-breaking attendance, and I'm talking about records that go back into the early 1900s. The Beavers have drawn very well for a minor league team in a big league town.
But there is no way anyone operating this stadium can generate enough revenue to pay the bills that the original stadium operators dumped on them.
The city revealed the other day that it has talked with the Trail Blazers about operating the stadium. Well, that's fine, I guess. But there's no question in my mind that the Blazers would begin by asking for the city to either give them the place Ñ lock, stock and dugout Ñ or renegotiate the payment schedule.
I wouldn't blame the Blazers for asking, either. The thing is a joke the way it's set up now. It has to be changed. That said, I see no reason to believe that a Paul Allen company could operate a minor league baseball team, a minor league soccer team or a stadium better than the current group.
I have seen no signs of promotional genius coming out of the Rose Garden. Perhaps the Blazers have a little more leverage to get a more workable deal, but I'd rather see the current operators get a better deal.
Not that I trust anyone at City Hall to know how to handle this situation. When Portland cut its deal with PFE, the council and mayor were so smug it was sickening. They acted as if they'd just bought Ross Island for a few pieces of myrtlewood. They trusted those they were dealing with to give them a picture of the future. It turned out to be a very flawed vision.
What was called a 'win-win deal' has turned into a total 'lose-lose' proposition.
PFE owners, who thought they had a chance to do something nice for the city and at least not lose a lot of money, are knee deep in red ink. The city is still insisting it is protected from major financial losses, but it will be lucky to find anyone willing to take over the very unrealistic payments.
Gee, it's all such a big surprise, isn't it?