City says stadium idea isnt a shutout
Strike 1: Governor says gambling and baseball don't mix
City officials remain confident that Portland can attract a major league baseball team despite Gov. Ted Kulongoski's rejection of an unprecedented stadium funding proposal.
Tim Grewe, the city's chief administrative officer, said he and other baseball backers simply will return to touting a plan that would fund a new stadium through such means as taxes on players' salaries and stadium-related levies.
Even so, Kulongoski's decision to reject the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde proposal, which essentially would swap stadium funds for the right to build a casino in Portland, means baseball supporters must look to other alternatives to generate $350 million for a baseball park.
'Nothing's changed in terms of how we're looking at this,' Grewe said Thursday. 'The casino (proposal rejection) was a bit of a detour, but it was just one option for us.'
Grewe said the apparent dismissal of the Grand Ronde proposal to fund the stadium also means the city would more strongly back a stadium site that sits in a tax-increment finance district. Funds from such districts are applied toward encouraging new developments within those areas.
Of the seven sites under consideration by the city, only two Ñ at Lincoln High School and the existing PGE Park site Ñ do not sit in tax-increment finance districts.
Kulongoski, in explaining his decision, evoked the name of Pete Rose, the baseball great banned from the sport for gambling.
'There's a certain anomaly in this: Pete Rose, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, can't get into the Hall of Fame because he gambled,' Kulongoski said Thursday. 'It doesn't make much sense to have Pete Rose come to Portland and be able to play blackjack, (and) that funds the money to build a baseball stadium. There's something inconsistent about it.'
Representatives from Kulongoski's office say the governor is a 'huge baseball fan' and strongly supports the notion of major league baseball in Portland.
'We're a little disappointed'
David Kahn, the head of the Oregon Stadium Campaign, and David Logsden, the city's spectator facilities manager, said the campaign had not planned to present the casino-stadium swap as a funding option during a meeting next Thursday with Major League Baseball officials.
'I felt before this proposal was floated that we had a more than decent chance Ñ maybe even an excellent chance Ñ of coming up with a suitable financing plan that is sensitive to the current conditions in Oregon and meets Major League Baseball's needs,' Kahn said.
'I still feel that way today, even after the Grand Ronde proposal apparently has been crossed off the list as a possible part of or full solution to the financing puzzle. We will endeavor to work with the mayor's office, the Legislature, the governor's office and other interested parties over the next several weeks and months to solve this puzzle.'
Mary Ellen Glynn, Kulongoski's spokeswoman, said Kulongoski has not ruled out considering off-reservation gambling if there's no baseball connection.
'He doesn't think it's good public policy to link the two,' she said.
The governor rejected a proposal that would have allowed the tribe to put at least $350 million toward a Portland baseball stadium in exchange for the right to construct a casino in Portland.
The governor's approval is necessary because he holds the right to allow tribes to build off-reservation gambling facilities.
The news sent baseball backers, a group that includes many Portland city officials, as well as Grand Ronde representatives, reeling.
'We're a little disappointed, we thought we had a concept that was a real win-win in that it would have provided thousands of jobs in the Portland area,' said Justin Martin, the tribe's director of intergovernmental affairs.
'On the other hand, we definitely respect the governor's decision to continue to enforce the policy of off-reservation gaming in Oregon,' he said.
Glynn said Howard Lavine, the governor's communications and policy adviser, spoke with Major League Baseball officials about the tribe's proposal. Kulongoski said Thursday that league officials gave no indication that they objected to the proposal.
'Maybe the baseball association doesn't want to step in and draw the line, but I am,' Kulongoski said.
Peter Bragdon, the governor's chief of staff, said Kulongoski, at a recent White House event, spoke extensively with President Bush about the possibility of bringing a major league team to Portland.
Speaking before the Portland Citizens Crime Commission on Wed-nesday morning, Mayor Vera Katz appeared to have no clue that Kulongoski would, just hours later, veto the casino proposal.
Katz noted that gambling, in the form of the Oregon Lottery, already was legal in the state. 'I fought against the lottery when I was in the Legislature, but it's legal now and we have to accept that.'
Katz said Thursday she's 'disappointed' with the decision, 'but we'll continue to work on what we started several months ago.'
Martin said the tribe has no other proposals that would link a new stadium to a casino.
Still, Martin said the developments may not mean the end of the tribe's efforts to construct a Portland casino.
'If he wants to visit it again, would we bring it up again, even if it's not tied to a major league baseball stadium? Of course we would,' Martin said.
Kulongoski's office canceled a Wednesday morning meeting with Grand Ronde officials.