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Soccer - Pro

MLS deal reached

    Timbers and Beavers owner Merritt Paulson reached a tentative agreement Monday with Portland leaders that would give him access to more than $60 million in city-backed loans to build a new Triple A baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter and renovate PGE Park for a new Major League Soccer franchise.

    To get the money, Paulson and his family have agreed to hold the city virtually harmless for paying most of it back.

    He has guaranteed rent payments on the two stadiums until the loans are retired even if his teams or the league fails. He’s also agreed to a 7 percent surcharge on tickets that would help retire the debt and would pay a minimum amount even if ticket sales didn’t materialize, ensuring the city’s revenue.

    Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Randy Leonard, who negotiated the agreement, said city is getting solid assurances from a wealthy family. Paulson’s father is Henry Paulson, the former U.S. treasury secretary and Wall Street mogul. Adams said the deal makes Paulson responsible for 80 percent of the costs. Once the loans are paid back, the city will own the stadiums outright.

    Leonard called it a great deal for Portland. “We have insulated the city so general services and programs cannot be touched — it’s not even possible,” Leonard said. “If anyone has ever been interested in a deal to bring Major League Soccer to Portland, this is it.”

    But even as the two sides worked out the last-minute details, it was unclear whether there are enough votes on the five-member Portland City Council to move the deal forward. The council is scheduled to vote Wednesday and Adams said “we go into this without an identified third vote.”

    — Excerpt from The Oregonian, March 10, 2009


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