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Friday, February 25, 2005

More on One Wolf

One Wolf's plans for an MLS team in Portland seem to have been kickstarted by 2 factors. Firstly One Wolf's creator Tony Stacy's background in facility management (including being operations manager at PGE Park back when the refurbished park reopened) leads him to believe that PGE Park can be run better, with soccer as the core sport. The second factor is Mexican soccer's desire to emulate Chivas and gain a foothold in the US soccer world through affiliation or partnership with MLS expansion teams.

According to Jack Elder, One Wolf's PR person, Mexican side Pachuca's president Mr. José de Jesús Martinez was considering San Diego as his entry point until convinced otherwise after One Wolf presented the facts of Portland's soccer history and it's sizable Hispanic/Latino community in the greater Portland area (quoted at 600,000 by Elder).

According to Elder, Pachuca (who are in the final stages of negotiations) would be a "partner not an investor", but One Wolf have "secured the necessary investment" to proceed with their plans. (At this stage the investors identities have not been made public)

Those plans begin with PGE Park. According to Elder, One Wolf see PGE Park as the best possible short term home for an MLS side if the venue can be managed properly with a grass field. One Wolf were at the City Council meeting last Wednesday to persuade leaders that extending the PCL ownership of PGE Park was not in the best interests of PGE Park.

One Wolf plan to bid to operate PGE Park and are very interested in running the Timbers and only interested in the Portland Beavers as tenants in what they plan as a soccer focused stadium.

When asked about a new stadium, Elder said that that would only be an option in the long term if PGE Park could not be used or a new "must have" site appeared on the horizon. Elder also said that if a long enough license was granted to a new owner, remodeling of PGE Park could be done.

Elder noted that the PCL were approached in 2004 about the sale of the Timbers, but were told that the Timbers and Beavers were a "package deal". "Power politics at it's best" was Elder's assessment of the situation.

Reporting on the City meeting the Oregonian quoted Council member Sam Adams as saying "I need to hear back from the PCL that they're not attempting to deal with their friends." The City Council then delayed their decision on extending the PCL contract until next week.

Elder also said that "we (One Wolf) have more the best interests of the Timbers than the PCL".

One Wolf have yet to make contact with Major League Soccer although that seems close with a contact provided by the Oregon Sports Authority. Elder said that they have been working on getting the basics (place to play, investors) in place before presenting that to MLS. He doesn't think that a shared stadium would be a problem for MLS, with PGE Park becoming a "field stadium" converted to baseball if needed and not the other way around.

When asked about the Timbers, Elder told me that One Wolf had not had any contact with them, but when asked about concerns about the Timbers he noted that "the only constant is change". He also said that it would be possible to have a stadium with more than 1 team affiliated with it. According to Elder we would see "a new model not seen anywhere else" and Portland would have more PSU soccer, more high school soccer, more soccer.

As for sponsorship Elder said that Pachuca would bring "leverage" and seemed positive in getting involvement from one of the local sportswear companies too.

According to Elder the next milestone is the Council decision on PGE Park ownership and their timetable for bids for a long term owner, whether that is this fall or the end of 2005. One Wolf's aim is to have an Mexican affiliated MLS side here in 2007.

As a parting note Elder said that One Wolf are planning to hold a 4 game tournament featuring Mexican league teams in July. Venue yet to be decided, but they would be playing on grass.

When I told Elder that local fans don't want to be burned by fly-by-night operators, his parting shot was "We are NOT Marshall Glickman"

posted by the timberlog at 7:53 AM



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