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Novick proposes selling coliseum, adding housing

Commissioner Steve Novick has proposed a plan to city council that would include selling Veteran's Memorial Coliseum to a developer.
veterans memorial coliseum

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Commissioner Steve Novick has proposed a plan to city council that would include selling Veterans Memorial Coliseum to a developer, on the condition that the developer builds a certain percentage of affordable housing on the property.

The coliseum has been a financial drain on the city for years, currently costing $55,000 annually just to keep the doors open and the electricity on. It handles more than a hundred events every year and the attendance at those events is about 384,000 people. But paid attendance for those events is less than half that number, at about 184,000.

There has been talk for years about what to do with the Coliseum and how to address the repairs it desperately needs.

Earlier this year, a handful of plans were offered. Those plans ranged in price from $35.1 million for basic upgrades to $143 million to convert the coliseum into a track facility. The upgrades are not expected to generate enough new money to pay for the repairs.

Commissioner Novick said Wednesday that while he knows it is not a popular option, selling the coliseum is the city's only viable option. The city does not have $35 million for upgrades, especially those that would only last for a short time.

He said the city is in dire need of affordable housing and has spoken to a developer, who said selling it and building affordable units could be a workable plan. Novick said he's asking the council to approve a study that would look at costs and viability. The results of that study would take months to complete.

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum does have an actual veterans memorial on the site. Novick says he would like to preserve that memorial and perhaps move it to a more visible location. He brought his proposal to the full city council Wednesday.

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