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Soccer - Pro

Sports fans, neighborhood leaders, PSU and city officials kick off campaign for MLS, ballpark

    Merritt Paulson, owner of the Portland Timbers and Portland Beavers, along with Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard and Portland State University Athletic Director Torre Chisholm, joined eastside neighborhood leaders and local soccer and baseball fans at a news conference at PGE Park today to urge public and government support for plans to bring a Major League Soccer (MLS) team to Portland and to create a new home for the Triple-A Beavers.

    The group unveiled visual concepts of the PGE Park improvements and new baseball stadium and launched new websites designed to share available information on the proposals and to generate community and political support for the plan:  www.mlstoportland.com and www.betterbeaversballpark.com.

    “Our goal is to bring Major League Soccer to the best soccer fans in America, to build an intimate new home to improve the Beavers baseball tradition and to create an even better gathering place for fans and families to enjoy Portland State University football,” Paulson said. “If you share this goal, please visit our new websites to learn more and to share your support with city officials.”

    Paulson and city officials are currently in discussions about how to finance the estimated $75 million it will cost for the improvements at PGE Park needed for MLS and to build a new 8,000 to 9,000-seat ballpark at Lents Park, located in Southeast Portland at SE 92nd and Holgate. These costs do not include what Paulson would pay for the new Major League Soccer franchise.

    “I love the idea, support the idea and am working to make real the idea of Major League Soccer at PGE Park and Beavers baseball at Lents Park. This is a unique chance to bring another major league team to Portland and to help bring back another great Portland neighborhood,” said Commissioner Leonard. “Over the next few months, I look forward to working with neighborhood leaders, city officials and Merritt Paulson to develop a stadium and funding plan everyone can support.”

    Chisholm indicated that the improvements needed to accommodate Major League Soccer at PGE Park would also be beneficial for the Portland State football program.

    Dewey Akers, chair of the Lents Neighborhood Association, said his group had not taken a formal position on the plan for a new ballpark in Lents, but that many in the community were excited about the idea. Akers said the Association has created a committee to study the idea and to work with Paulson and city officials on details of the plan. In addition, Sue Bush, representing Lents Little League, said there is already support and excitement for making Lents Park the new home for the Beavers with adjacent Little League fields.


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