Progressive action alert group Onward Oregon sent out an email blast this weekend encouraging its thousands of members to hit city council with letters against the Trail Blazers' Jumptown plans for the Rose Quarter and Memorial Coliseum.

  • Mark Searcy

City Council will debate the Memorial Coliseum's Request for Proposals this Wednesday. There are three ideas still in the running for how to repurpose the historic building and Onward Oregon wants the council to lean in favor of the Memorial Athletic and Recreation Center (MARC) or Veterans Memorial Arts and Athletic Center (VMAAC) instead of the Blazers' pitch. The MARC has been billing itself as more public and community-focused than the Blazers' idea. From Onward Oregon:
The leading contender is the Trail Blazers’ plan to create an entertainment district called “Jumptown.” Many feel that such a district, including their proposal for the Memorial Coliseum, would serve a narrow demographic and will privatize a space that was once shared and owned in common. We are concerned that Jumptown & the Trail Blazers’ plan for the Memorial Coliseum will make Memorial Coliseum a commercial and community deadzone.

Architecture critic Brian Libby struck back at the group, sending out his own email to city commissioners and posting a long diatribe on Portland Architecture about the danger of the non-Blazers ideas. Both the MARC and VMAAC plans involve removing the Coliseum's bowl to make way for new uses.

"Jumptown isn't perfect, but it's the ONLY plan that will preserve Memorial Coliseum according to its original plan — as the world's only transparent arena," read Libby's email to the city. "The other two finalists would GUT the building for programs that could happen anywhere." When I called Libby for comment today, he lamented Onward Oregon's support of the MARC and VMAAC. "It's hard to see such a laudable progressive organization have its head so far up its you-know-where," says Libby.