One of the top three applicants for the redevelopment of Memorial Coliseum has asked the city to put the brakes on the process until it figures out whether the Trail Blazers' special Memorial Coliseum contract makes other reuse pitches impossible.

  • Mark Searcy

Seems like a pretty basic thing to resolve, right?

Doug Obletz's Memorial Athletic and Recreation Center (MARC) project, which is setting itself up as the alternative to the Blazers' plan for the building, sent a letter (pdf) to all the city commissioners last Friday evening, asking the city to delay the development process until it works out the contract conflicts. The city's current operating agreement with Blazers' development group Portland Arena Management bans other groups from running Memorial Coliseum as a spectator facility. If any other group, including the city, takes over Memorial Coliseum, it would not be allowed to host sports events, concerts or performances.

The MARC idea needs sports events and performances to be financially viable. So, asks Obletz, should they draw up their proposal assuming the city will break its contract? How can a firm invest in making plans for the future of the Coliseum when the contracts that bind development might change?

When the process kicked off, Adams assured participants that all proposals would be treated on an equal playing field but Obletz has repeatedly complained that the deck is stacked in the Blazers' favor.

"I've been really clear that regardless of who is selected as the potential partner for rejuvenating the Memorial Coliseum, I'm going to want changes to the operating agreement. It's a question of when and how," replies Mayor Adams. As for whether they should draft a new contract before the final Memorial Coliseum pitches are submitted or after, says Adams, "I'm open in terms of doing it now or later."

Adams says he will ask the citizen's advisory committee to vote tomorrow night on whether to delay the process for contract negotiation or stick to the current timeline. As for what specific details Adams would like to see changed with the current contract, Adams wouldn't specify. "I do not want to negotiate through the media," he says.