Blazers, Winterhawks announce Memorial Coliseum plan

From the press release:

Group advocates revitalized arena with amenities to promote daily activities

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Trail Blazers, Portland Winterhawks and their design and development partners answered the Mayor Sam Adams’ call for concepts for the renovation or adaptive reuse of Veterans Memorial Coliseum, submitting a concept today for a modernized, enlivened Coliseum that would draw daily community activity.

The concept, derived from widespread community conversations, would preserve the building’s architectural integrity and activate the venue with a community athletic center, a designated meeting and activity room for veterans and full service restaurants open for events, lunch and dinner on the main concourse, augmenting the building’s existing use as a multi-purpose sports and event center.

“This is a major step toward connecting the Rose Quarter to existing neighborhoods and developing Portland’s east side,” Portland Trail Blazers President Larry Miller said. “Not only does this plan preserve and enhance Veterans Memorial Coliseum, it creates new neighborhood amenities and community benefits.”

Inside the arena bowl, a reduced seating capacity, club amenities and other upgrades would provide a more intimate setting to attract new events and ensure a bright future for the Winterhawks, the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral parade, Oregon School Activities Association competitions, graduations and other community events.

“A revitalized Veterans Memorial Coliseum will help ensure our long-term future with an intimate, first-class facility,” Portland Winterhawks President Doug Piper said. “Hockey fans in Portland can continue to enjoy the rich hockey history this building has provided while enjoying modern amenities. This approach is a win for everybody.”

The plan would provide a true home for hockey, with upgrades that would include a new state-of-the-art scoreboard, an ice sheet upgraded to league-standard size and a wider variety of concession options and increased points of sale to improve the fan experience.

Veterans Memorial Coliseum, completed in 1960 as a memorial to Oregon war veterans, attracted more than 430,000 guests last season. Its proximity to the Rose Garden makes the building attractive to events such as the Alli Dew Tour and the 2005 U.S. Figure Skating Championships that require side-by-side venues.

A renovated Veterans Memorial Coliseum is a central element in the Trail Blazers’ development vision for the Rose Quarter. The team has been soliciting public input, identifying partners and beginning preliminary design on “JumpTown,” a green, vibrant and economically viable new neighborhood for Portland’s east side.

The district provides a cultural link to the jazz district that once existed on the east bank of the Willamette River.

“We believe this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Miller said. “We want to develop a project that creates economic opportunity for everyday Portlanders, increases convention business and results in a new neighborhood for Portland’s east side guided by community input and local design talent.”

The Trail Blazers/Winterhawks proposal is one of several concepts submitted in the all-inclusive call for ideas. All submissions received by today’s deadline will be reviewed by the Mayor’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee against its evaluation criteria.

The SAC will make its recommendations to Portland City Council and the Portland Development Commission (PDC) after public presentations of concepts on January 26 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Financial benefits at a glance:

• The concept preserves and increases the economic benefits of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum’s value as a multi-purpose sports area that hosted 154 major events last year.

• Veterans Memorial Coliseum event user fees and parking revenue generate direct payments of approximately $300,000 each year to the city of Portland with a direct economic impact to the city and region of $11 million annually.

• An enhanced Veterans Memorial Coliseum will help attract new events and offer a more intimate venue better suited to Portland’s market.

• JumpTown will help revitalize surrounding areas and foster additional private investment, job creation and development. The project will add millions of dollars to tax rolls.

• The JumpTown district will create thousands of construction jobs — including prioritizing Minority-Owned Business Enterprises and Women-Owned Business Enterprise contractors — and increase activity for Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

• A vibrant, mixed-use district, potentially with a 250-room hotel, holds the promise of attracting additional visitors and conventioneers to the region.

Community benefits at a glance:

• A community athletic center and designated meeting space for veterans will increase the building’s activity and draw.

• The district will provide a cultural link to the pre-Coliseum ‘JumpTown’ neighborhood.

• Adjacent neighborhoods will benefit from a developed Rose Quarter with increased amenities and retail options.

• Community events like the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade and graduation ceremonies will benefit from a modernized facility.

• The future of hockey in Portland will be solidified long-term.

• JumpTown will create a new community gathering place for Portland’s eastside, including free live events more than 150 days a year.

• Leading green-building technologies will showcase Portland’s sustainable values to the rest of the country.

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