Portland has been looking to renovate its Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but early cost estimates could find the city spending more money than it’s got the budget for.
According to the latest figures, the construction costs could range from $37 million to $89 million; the exact cost will depend how extensive the improvements are. However, the city’s urban renewal agency, the Portland Development Commission, has only allotted $23.3 million to the renovation.
A city council candidate proposes a unique idea to use the money for something else entirely but for the good of the city.
Darkhorse candidate, Michael Durrow, 49, is running for a spot on Portland’s city council. His suggestion is instead of demolishing $100 million asset OR spending of the public’s money on building for minor league men’s sports; Remake the Colliseum into a facility that’s dedicated to female sports for the Spirit of Title IX.
According to Durrow, “We would be the first American city to offer something like this.”
He continued, “We could attract some of the most up and coming female athletic events in the Nation, perhaps even the World.”
His interest in the renovation stems from the years of improvement plans after improvements plans for the coliseum that have not come to fruition.
In 2012, former mayor Sam Adams attempted to attain a $31.5 million upgrade with a pitiful $10 million contribution from the Winterhawk’s hockey team, who uses the arena. However, the deal never took shape.
Under new leader Mayor Charlie Hales, officials are doing a slower analysis of their options. At this time, the basic repairs and replacements that need to be done have a preliminary cost of $37 million. This cost estimate isn’t including the project management or soft costs. It does include replacing the roof, upgrading the stadium to comply with the American with Disabilities Act and replacement of the HVAC/plumbing.
Even at $61 million, the general repairs and improvements could boost the appearance – new concession stands, seats and scoreboard.
Either option would ensure the coliseum is open for another 10 to 20 years. The Veterans Memorial Coliseum was built in 1960.
If a costly overhaul of $89 million was done, it could lengthen its life by up to 50 years.
Susan Hartnett is overseeing the project for the Office of Management & Finance. She said these improvements could enable the coliseum to be used for an array of events like concerts.
Officials have yet to get cost estimates on the other options being looked at: open-air arena, indoor track, temporary closure of the facility and demolition.
Does Durrow’s plan include the demolition of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum? According to Durrow, “I believe that an innovative idea like a stadium dedicated year-around to female Pro-Am sports will open a lot of new and interesting sources for money.”
Hartnett said officials are not quite sure how to pay for the improvements needed for the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. She hinted the possibility for private contributions along with the city’s public money.