Lewis Lazare of Chicago Sun Times says a new Bears ad campaign from Two by Four tries to suggest the close connection between the team and the city it calls home.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is a bitch slap of a story from John Canzano of The Oregonian, regarding the city of Portland’s unwillingness (or inability, depending on one’s POV) to build a new stadium for the AAA Portland Beavers, who play their last game today.
Because two solid stadium financing proposals were brought to those charged with leading Portland — and two times, the city leaders wilted. A wonderful Rose Quarter baseball stadium plan got snuffed out when the mayor and the City Council withdrew its support after pressure from some sentimental architects and the Trail Blazers, who are so insecure they don’t want a hint of competition. A second proposal, in Southeast Portland, got squashed by a lack of vision and an unwillingness for the council to work together.
Beavers owner Merritt Paulson wrung his hands into a bloody pulp trying to get a stadium built, copying the successful blueprint that worked for other cities. He pleaded. He promised as much as $25 million of capital. He even guaranteed that he’d cover any construction-cost overages.
In the end, he realized what the rest of us who have been paying attention already knew — Portland needs stronger city leadership.
All of which begs the question, is a pro sports franchise–and their unquenchable thirst for a new and improved stadium–an essential part of the nation’s urban infrastructure? Does the economic impact of a pro team outweigh the extra tax burden citizens are asked to carry? The answers to these questions are going to vary widely, depending on where one lives and how tightly the city’s identity is tied to the local sports teams.