• Zack Soto

Hundreds of people squeezed into the small, chilly seats surrounding Memorial Coliseum’s ice rink tonight to get a quick snapshot of dozens of public ideas about how to reuse the historic building.

BUT FIRST THINGS FIRST! Most importantly, I finally met the mysterious guys who want the city to build a massive roller coaster at Memorial Coliseum. They are motivated. They have a website, videos and some friends on Yelp. They were the very first group to pitch an idea for how to reuse the building, getting their plan together weeks before even corporate entities.

Finally I was able to ask: “Why does Portland need a roller coaster?”
“Who doesn’t like a roller coaster?” replied coaster-backer Sean-Michael Riley.
“There could be people living in this part of the country who are coaster enthusiasts but don’t even know it yet because there are no local coasters,” seconded friend Eric Sheldon. The pair has tentatively dubbed the roller coaster Hero (to honor the veterans) and estimates its price tag at $12 million.

Okay, seriously now.

Most of the numerous presenters tonight agreed on a couple core beliefs: the Coliseum should connect to the surrounding community, but also be a regionally destination. The building should have diverse, year-round uses serving numerous different groups. But asking how to achieve those basic goals churned up dozens of very different answers.

An idea VisionPDX drew up turns Memorial Coliseum into a world marketplace and multicultural center. Two separate, unrealted corporate entities pitched conversion into an “indoor surf tank” and underground virtual reality simulator. A self-described mother-of-six imagined a

Which of these many bold ideas moves forward for real consideration is up to the Stakeholder Advisory Committee. It’s a tough call who the top contenders will be.

The presentations continue for another hour, but I have to cut out to catch the 8 pm election returns. Check out the ideas yourself—the meeting is streaming online.

Ha! I second this thought Dave posted in the comments:

Do any of these presentations have price tags attached? They all sound like the imaginary dream home you plan on building when you're a kid with swimming pool of liquid gold or a pit that falls forever.