Tag Archives: soccer

Oh, I almost forgot…people hate me

Fun...

Fun...

Over the summer I pissed a bunch of local soccer fans off when I criticized the city’s plan to undertake a $75 million renovation of PGE Park. That plan, which looked foolhardy then, seems downright stupid now that the economy is in the tank. The Blazers might keep selling out the Rose Garden, but 20,000 people aren’t going to come out for an MLS game. I mean, come on, the league couldn’t even keep David Beckham in America.

Sorry, but facts are facts: PGE Park houses three marginal teams. The Padres stink, and that means that the Beavers are going to stink, too. The Portland State football team is about the most uninteresting thing possible, but they still make money even if they only get a crowd when Montana is in town. And yes, of course, the Timbers. I won’t hate, they are pretty cool and so is the Timbers Army…but that’s not enough to convince me that they need a fancy park, or that a fancy park and crappy MLS team would draw well.

We’ll follow this plan, but know one thing: this is on the city’s way back burner now. Not when they’re talking about cutting back basic services.

UPDATE: The only reason MLS draws well in Seattle is because they don’t have a professional basketball team competing in the Association, and the other two teams are the Mariners and the Seahawks.

The final word…for now

The old ballpark.

The old ballpark.

I’ve opened a real hornet’s nest with my anti-MLS, anti-PGE Park stance. I wrote a poorly researched blog entry about it and now I’ve got a (very small) army of soccer supporters with their panties in a pretty tight wind. Let me reiterate some key points, then I’m going to put the matter to rest and start talking about normal things, like how much I hate Sarah Palin.

First, PGE Park was just renovated in 2001, which is really not that long ago. The cost was $38.5 million, and surprise, surprise, it’s still being paid off. Now Randy Leonard says he want to use ticket sales to pay for the new renovation costs and the cost of building a new park for the Beavers in the Lents neighborhood, a price tag which could reach past $75 million. That’s a LOT of ticket sales.

If this does happen, the one huge benefit will be to the struggling Lents neighborhood, which is stuck in the armpit of 205 and Foster Rd. Still, it would be highly unfortunate for the Beavs to move out of PGE Park. They have enough problems getting people to come to their games without relocating 120 blocks away from downtown. As Allison mentioned in her comment, the Beavers are getting less than 6,000 people a game. Again, thanks for the info, Allison.

The benefit to the PSU football team is indeed exciting, although again, it’s not so much about the venue as it is the product in this case. When the team was winning big in the 1980s under Pokey Allen, PGE Park (then called Civic Stadium) routinely sold out. The Vikings haven’t had a sellout since joining the Big Sky and resigning themselves to playing Division I-AA (now called Football Championship Series) ball. The team sucks this year, and probably will continue to do so for an indeterminate amount of time. To be fair, Jerry Glanville usually has a good third year. Then he leaves.

The bottom line is this: I dislike American soccer, I don’t have faith in the MLS as a league and I’m scared by any plan that involves banking on ticket sales to pay back millions of dollars. I can obviously see the benefits the plan has to PSU, but I’m not sure that team deserves a new stadium at this point. If they rattle off a few wins, I’ll eat crow. Until then, I’ll laugh.

I don’t hate people who watch soccer, but at least some of you out there must admit that getting an MLS team won’t make this city any more “major league.” It’ll entertain you, and it would benefit certain groups, but the one thing it won’t affect is legitimacy. Not this city’s. Not other teams. Not yours for watching.

Side note:  Your insults are appreciated! It’s a huge compliment to both me and the site that so many people are pissed off over a harmless little thing like an opinion. Next week I’m going to talk about how much I hate kittens and puppies. If you think soccer fans are dangerous, wait til you see PETA up in arms.

Improve the product, not the venue

The boisterous Timbers Army.

The boisterous Timbers Army.

Uh oh. The Beer Garden has pissed off the Timbers Army! Let me reiterate my point: I don’t care if it’s my money that goes into renovating PGE Park and building a new stadium in the Lents neighborhood or not. I just don’t think it’s a good idea, and that’s nothing against the sport of soccer per se, even though I’m certainly among the majority of Americans in my total ambivalance to the sport. Yeah, the world loves it. The world also loves cricket, and team handball. Should I feel guilty for being excited about the start of the NFL season?

Thousands of Portlanders care about soccer. That’s true. However I don’t believe that 20,000 people will turn out every time the MLS team plays, and that’s what they’d need. Even the Blazers don’t always manage a sellout, and they’re an NBA franchise. The Beavers have drawn poorly, with the Timbers doing even worse in home attendance. Portland State can barely get 8,000 fans at football games, even though the school has 25,000 students.

Maybe it’s the venue, and if so, then maybe this plan makes sense. But maybe it’s the product. And if that’s the case, you could play your games at Qwest Field and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Improve the product. Then think about getting fans through the doors. Nobody wants to watch minor league sports, which is exactly what MLS is.
Update: Reader Allison Andrews burns me with some sweet attendance info. Check it out.

“Beavers average attendance: 5,607 this year, which is 9th out of 16 teams in the Pacific Coast League.  They averaged 5,478 last year.

Timbers average attendance: 8,249 this year, which is a 21% increase over last year (6,828), which was a 22% increase over the year before.  They are 2nd in the league out of 11 teams this year.”

Thanks, Allison! Great info, something I obviously didn’t take the time to collect. Perhaps this proves my point even better, however. The Timbers are indeed drawing well compared to the other teams in their league, but they are not drawing well enough to support an MLS team, at least in my opinion. The US Open Cup was recently played in front of less than 8,300 people. The sport is not healthy. That’s my main argument for not acquiring an MLS team. Heck, a team might draw well in Portland. Really well. But I don’t have much faith in the health of the league overall. EuroCup sure was fun, though.