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Veterans Memorial Coliseum in line for a $30 million renovation

City Council will consider the project's big budget next week

Mayor Sam Adams chose Veterans Day to announce plans for upgrading the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Speaking Friday in the Hollywood neighborhood before the annual Veterans Day Parade, Adams said the City Council will consider a proposal to spend $30.5 million on the coliseum next Thursday, Nov. 17.

'It is appropriate that on a day when we honor veterans for all they have given on behalf of our country, we highlight the progress being made to renovate and enhance the historic building and gardens built and named in their honor,' said Adams. 'The VMC is the heart and soul of the Rose Quarter and I am pleased with the progress made to restore this iconic regional asset.'

During the project, the city will work with the Portland Winterhawks, the coliseum's major tenant, and Portland Arena Management, the arm of the Portland Trail Blazers that manages the coliseum through a contract with the city.

The plan calls for the city to spend $17.1 million on the project. The money will come from urban renewal funds through the Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal Area. The Winterhawks will contribute $10 million to the project. The remaining 3.4 million will come in the form of Historic Tax Credits.

Another $7.5 million in urban renewal area funds will be set aside for affordable housing. Together with the $17.1 million for the Coliseum project, that represents just about the last of the urban renewal funds available from the convention center area, which expires next year.

Among the items anticipated to be included in the coliseum improvements are:

• Restored landscaping and enhanced memorials in the Memorial Gardens

• Arena seat replacement and improved Americans with Disabilities Act seating.

• A National Hockey League-sized ice rink.

• Remodeled concession stands including ADA accessible counters.

• Updated lighting and ADA compliant interior doors.

• Complete roof replacement.

• Upgraded emergency lighting system and the building's fire alarm system.

The plan does not call for any work in the undeveloped portions of the Rose Quarter that includes the coliseum and Rose Garden Arena.

The fate of the coliseum was uncertain when Adams became Mayor in 2009. The city had considered several plans for redeveloping the Rose Quarter that would have changed it use. Adams proposed demolishing the coliseum and replacing it with a minor league baseball stadium for the Portland Beavers, who lost their home when the former Civic Stadium was renovated for the Portland Timbers.

Adams changed his mind after architects and preservationists rallied to save the coliseum, calling it a historically significant example of mid-century architecture. At Adams' urging, the council subsequently voted to maintain the Coliseum as a spectator facility but upgrade it to current stands.

Planning has also started to create a district energy system in the area that could provide sustainable power to the coliseum, the Rose Garden Arena and the Oregon Convention Center.