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Soccer - Pro

MLS deal expected next week

    Mayor Sam Adams said Wednesday negotiators are pushing through months of delay and by next week will finish the final $31 million deal to refurbish PGE Park in time for an April 2011 season opener for Major League Soccer.

    “I feel like we’re in the zone,” Adams said.

    The proximity of a deal was enough for the council, on a 3-2 vote, to allow franchise owner Merritt Paulson to start early work on the reconstruction.

    Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz dissented because they said they’re worried that giving Paulson the go-ahead puts the city at a disadvantage in the contract talks.

    “This doesn’t seem prudent to me,” Fritz said.

    “There are still significant issues in dispute,” Fish said. “I believe we give up leverage,” and Wednesday’s vote “puts the cart before the horse.”

    But Adams and Commissioners Randy Leonard and Dan Saltzman argued that the city loses nothing by approving the early work because Paulson is paying for it.

    “I must say I am befuddled by this,” Leonard said. “The onus falls on (Paulson) to make sure we have an operating agreement.”

    Paulson, who owns the Portland Beavers baseball team and the Portland Timbers minor-league soccer team, said the work permit was “an important procedural step” for the park’s renovation.

    “I am confident the final terms of the agreement will be reached with the city in the next couple weeks so that council can vote upon the agreement before month’s end,” Paulson said.

    — Excerpt from OregonLive.com, January 6, 2010


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