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The Field of Schemes

QuickPoint!

Paul Allen owns the Portland Trail Blazers and has privately funded the team for years. Allen’s Oregon Arena Corp. also owns the Rose Garden where the Blazers play. This largely privately funded arena just filed for bankruptcy. The important lesson to learn: Let private people risk private money when they bring Major League Baseball to Oregon.

A couple years ago, the City of Portland spent millions of taxpayer dollars to refurbish what is now PGE Park. Promise after promise was made: The project would pay for itself, taxpayers would not be on the hook for more, and jobs would be created.

Fast forward to reality. The city has taken over the minor league baseball team and operates the stadium. Portland Family Entertainment, which previously managed the park, owes $2 million in back rent. Today, city officials admit to losing between $600,000 and $800,000 – and that’s what they admit to.

Public employees continue to spend much time on the clock trying to make this work. That is, they’re working on sports entertainment issues at the expense of core government functions. Those tax dollars are likely not figured into the admitted losses.

Oregonians concerned about core government functions should look at the Field of Schemes web site. The promise that a taxpayer-funded professional baseball stadium in Portland will pay for itself is a promise meant to be broken.

Kurt T. Weber is vice president of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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