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Portland needs to set larger civic goals

by: Tribune File Photo, Beavers' pitcher Matt Buschmann sends some heat toward home plate. Tribune letter writers debate whether Portland is a baseball town.

The Portland area is a growing region that needs to set higher civic goals. The metropolitan area is the 23rd largest in the nation, but sometimes acts if it were No. 53.

A city of Portland's size should be courting new business development within the city, encouraging a company headquarters to move to the region, leading in education and performing arts, and have bigger aspirations with regard to the sports landscape (Seattle swings; Portland dithers, July 30).

Per 2008 population data, Cincinnati, Nashville, Cleveland, Kansas City, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and New Orleans all have less population within their respective 'metropolitan statistical areas' than Portland, yet they all have more than one major league sports franchise.

The Portland area is projected for continued growth, and I know as a frequent visitor to the City of Roses I would prefer to attend an NHL or MLB game than watch bicyclists go around in a circle.

Jeff Paul

Issaquah, Wash.

Portland only supports the Blazers

Jim Murphy's opinion article 'Seattle swings; Portland dithers' (July 30) forgot to mention just one important factor that went into Seattle's 'civic foresight and political moxie': Democracy.

When the vote was brought to the citizens of Seattle to pay for those money-sucking stadiums, they voted them down; not once, not twice, but I believe even a third time.

What was the city's response? Since they didn't like what the people voted for, they decided to override the voice of the people and build the stadiums anyway.

Given Mr. Murphy's take on government 'intestinal fortitude' and not being reminded that 'we've got better things to do, more important priorities …', I'm sure he doesn't mind that democratic principles were thrown out like the first pitch to have his overpriced hot dog and beer.

Mr. Murphy is absolutely correct when he says that major league franchises do nothing for the local economy. Study after study shows that the only person who benefits from the building of a stadium (at taxpayers' exorbitant expense), and the placement of a team, is the owner. And there is no guarantee of the team staying long term, yet tickets are guaranteed to be expensive.

Let Merritt Paulson 'Pay to Play' if he wants it so bad, or he can leave town.

We don't need a team or stadium in this town beyond what we already have. Portland hasn't proven itself to support anything beyond the Trail Blazers. And even with that and this economy, it has not stopped the exodus of people from moving here.

Sean S. Doyle

Northwest Portland

Losing the Beavers will be a blow to city

I think that if Portland loses the Beavers - which it probably will, unless city leaders find a spot for the team soon - it would be a great setback to the history of baseball in Portland (Seattle swings; Portland dithers, July 30).

In my opinion, I think they should give Delta Park a look. It already has five or six baseball fields there, there's more than enough room to build a new stadium, and you'll have the freeway, MAX and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard all within five minutes of the stadium with ample parking.

I guess Portland has just given up on baseball.

Che Robinson

Northwest Portland

Pirates can take over Portland

Jim, give it two more years (Seattle swings; Portland dithers, July 30). By that time, Nutting will have allowed his management to deal off every Pittsburgh Pirate with talent, attendance will continue to sink to unthinkable levels (which is sad, because PNC Park is absolutely beautiful), and the Pirates will be thrust into contraction.

With that, we can hold out and build a brand new MLB ballpark in the Rose Quarter area, welcoming the Pirates to their new hometown of Portland and we'll be glad that we never threw more money at Triple-A baseball.

Justin Gast

North Portland

Portland doesn't support baseball

In the recent opinion piece 'Seattle swings; Portland dithers' (July 30), Jim Murphy laments the lack of a professional-style baseball venue in Portland, similar to Safeco field in Seattle. Like many pro baseball supporters, he completely misses the point.

The problem in Portland is not the lack of venue, it's the lack of audience. Yes, yes, 'If you build it they will come,' but are they coming to what we've already built?

PGE Park can hold slightly fewer than 20,000 people for a baseball or soccer game. In 2008, the Beavers had a total attendance of 392,512. When you divide that by the 72 home games, you get an average of 5,452 fans per game, a little more than one-fourth of the capacity of the stadium.

That's far below the Triple-A league average of 464,716 in 2008, or 6,454 fans per game.

Some games it's far, far less than that.

Meanwhile, our soccer team, the Portland Timbers, playing in the exact same venue, managed to garner an average of 8,567 fans per game in 2008, the second highest in their league.

If you look at the Rose Garden, the Blazers average 20,500 per game, but the Winterhawks averaged only 3,648 last year. The very vocal baseball fans argue that pro ball would be different, but so far there's no evidence to support that.

Now, if the Beavers were a financial success and were selling out every game, we could justify going after a MLB team. But the facts of the matter are that the Beavers are going broke, they draw crowds of anemic size and the interest in baseball simply is not there.

Jordan Lund

Southeast Portland