Portland Kicks Off Grassroots Effort

Portland Kicks Off Grassroots Effort

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On July 24, 2008
  • MLS Expansion, Portland Expansion

Below is the press release sent to me earlier this morning…okay pretty much late into the night (3am) about Portland’s grassroots effort getting kick started with an official launch of their website.

PORTLAND, July 24th 2008 – On the eve of the 2008 Major League Soccer Allstar Game, a loosely assembled group of Portland residents, writers and sports fans today launched MLStoPDX.com, a grassroots-oriented website designed as a resource to educate, discuss and influence plans to bring Major League Soccer to Portland Oregon.

Yesterday, Don Garber of Major League Soccer confirmed the league’s intentions to expand to 18 teams in the next couple of years. Currently, nine cities are vying for the two remaining expansion slots, with Portland considered to be a serious contender.

Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson has indicated that he is willing to contribute $40million as a private investment to help Portland secure one of the expansion slots.

Fully independent from official expansion efforts by the City of Portland, Major League Soccer and Merritt Paulson, MLStoPDX.com consists solely of content generated by the primary stakeholders – the citizens of Portland.

“Portland is a very independently minded city and unique in its support of both soccer and the use of public investment to improve our quality of life” said Perry Adair, one of the site’s initial contributors. “Portlanders will demand a significant role in any effort that impacts either public money or a Portland institution like the Timbers. We want to help the public determine how we would want to bring MLS to Portland” Adair added.

With nine cities competing for only a couple of expansion slots and announcements expected as early this fall, time is short for the city and Portland to decide if they will support an MLS bid.

Early indications are that MLS will impact much more than soccer in Portland. Merritt Paulson is expected to propose upgrading PGE Park to better support both PSU Football and Major League Soccer, while giving the Portland Beavers baseball team a brand new facility.

For this reason, MLStoPDX focuses on all three sports as well as the economic development and other non-sports aspects of the plan.

True to its grassroots charter, the site is committed to giving a voice to both sides of the argument. “Even in Soccer City, USA, there are people who just don’t like the sport, while others may love soccer, football or baseball but not like the idea of public investment. We’re considering all sides of the discussion.” Adair noted.

In order to encourage high-quality publicly-generated content, the website features a contest with a $111 cash award that will be decided by a public vote.

“We’re going to try to accommodate any and all types of contest submission. Whether it’s a well researched persuasive essay, original photo, artwork, or even a home brew – as long as it makes some statement about MLS in Portland and we can show it on the site for people to vote for it, it’s in the running.”

Additional site features include an ‘expansion dashboard’ designed to keep Portlanders up-to date on the city’s expansion prospects as well as well as a letter writing campaign aimed at public officials and MLS decision makers.

Also known as Soccer City, USA, Portland has become a favorite of MLS expansion watchers across the country due to its passionate fan base, team history and century-old downtown stadium. The city owes much of its recent acclaim to the Timbers Army, a local fan group recognized both for its European-style support of the team as well as financial contributions to local Habitat for Humanity projects and the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.