PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Closing the Veterans Memorial Coliseum is on the Portland City Council’s agenda, and supporters of the facility can’t believe the plan is getting serious discussion.
The city council will discuss four options for the multi-use facility that was built in 1960: continuing as it is, renovating, closing the facility and site redevelopment. Next week, city commissioners will vote on spending another $125,000 just to study those options.
The city’s Office of Management and Finance said the mayor wants a better idea of how the options might pencil out financially before moving forward with any of them. The study will also analyze the cost and obstacles in tearing the building down even if there are no specific redevelopment plans.
The city owns the facility which is run by the Portland Arena Management, and houses, among other events, games for the Portland Winterhawks.
Stuart Emmons, the co-chair of the Friends of Memorial Coliseum, wondered who came up with the idea to close the building.
“This building is a nationally registered historic landmark,” Emmons told KOIN 6 News. “Considering demolition doesn’t make any sense to me at all. I mean, this building is a gem.”
He sees “this as the centerpiece for a much deeper development scene” in the area, but acknowledged the various studies over the years haven’t amounted to much.
“I think we ought to make a decision and move on,” Emmons said. “I don’t like throwing city money, good money after bad. It’s going to take some dollars to do it right.”
Emmons said Memorial Coliseum is architecturally more important than City Hall.
“I mean, this building on the national level is almost a more important building architecturally than City Hall is. I think it’s worth the money.”
Memorial Coliseum, he said, “is a perfect catalyst for a really exciting Rose Quarter development.”
The issue was originally slated to be discussed at the City Council meeting this week but was pushed back after last week’s meeting was cancelled due to the death of Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s husband.