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|Wednesday, November 04, 2009|
The Rose Quarter lies roughly halfway between my home and my office, and every time I roll past I wonder how such a prime piece of urban property can manage to be so very lame, in so many ways. Where are the quirky cafes, the funky breweries, the dance halls and the music clubs, the bike shops and the pool halls? Nothing but chain restaurants and endless parking lots: visionary urban planning circa 1975. This is not the Portland I know and love. It makes sense for the city and the Blazers to redevelop the quarter into something that reflects the soul of the city, because there’s really nowhere to go but up. The neighborhood just hasn’t been the same since it got bulldozed.
Besides, a bold strategy could pay off in the end. Blazer fans proved last season that even in the middle of the worst economy since the great Depression, people still want to go out and have fun. Demand for sports and entertainment will never go away, especially with a team as exciting to watch as the Blazers. The market is huge, and the current version of the Rose Quarter is only tapping part of it. I was at the Memorial Coliseum a few years ago when the U.S. Davis Cup team beat Russia for the championship, and not one seat was open. It was amazing. So-called second-tier sports can bring in huge crowds with the right promotion and the right event. Lacrosse didn’t make it but hockey has done OK. Bicycle racing could do even better. And then there’s that other sport – baseball.
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