Memorial Coliseum opened up its doors last night to hundreds of people wanting to catch a glimpse of some of the proposals to redevelop the Rose Quarter.
The Rose Quarter Stakeholder Advisory Committee was scheduled to hear five minute presentations from groups who pitched an idea to re-shape the Rose Quarter.
Before the presentation, the public was invited to sip organic iced tea while visiting the tables of various groups who have big ideas for Memorial Coliseum.
The Portland Trail Blazers’ Jumptown, a year-round entertainment district, has a solid shot at being adopted. It’s one of the more developed proposals, has the backing of the Portland Winter Hawks (who share Memorial Coliseum), and already have the development rights.
But there’s still a number of other proposals you might not have heard about. Here’s a couple:
Tricia Tillman stands next to a table displaying her vision for the Coliseum Garden.
Tricia Tillman, an administrator with the Multnomah County Public Health Department, and Debb Lippoldt, the executive director of Growing Gardens, want to turn Memorial Coliseum into a giant greenhouse.
Tillman explained that the coliseum, under their proposal, would be used to advance urban agriculture and secure a supply of local food for the city.
Calling it “Portland’s 21st Century Victory Garden,” after the gardens Americans were encouraged to cultivate during WWII, Tillman said it could be used to advance research and education of how we grow our food, and find new alternatives.
Lippoldt said that leafy greens and strawberries would be some of the things grown in coliseum, and would use advanced techniques to cultivate food- even growing vegetables on the walls.
Environmental History and Future Museum
Portland State University Anthropologist Virginia Butler wants Memorial Coliseum to become a world-class museum.
Portland State University Anthropologist wants Memorial Coliseum transformed into a museum that encompasses pretty much the entire history of the Portland area going back tens of thousands of years to when ground sloths and elephants roamed what would become the City of Roses.
She explained that the Missoula Floods that passed through Portland 15,000 to 20,000 years ago went right past what is now Memorial Coliseum.
“We are standing right next to it,” she said, of where the ancient flood once ran.
Butler said that the museum would show Portland’s links to other parts of the world like China and Australia, and would be a must-see for visitors coming through Portland.
It would also look at the region’s human past, including the historic African American neighborhood Jumptown, which was displaced by the coliseum.
“It was more than just jazz clubs,” she said.
Vision into Action
Roger Anthony and his group, Vision into Action, want the Rose Quarter to be a place that reflects the values of Portlanders.
A group of activists argues that the Rose Quarter should be a community center in every sense of the word.
Roger Anthony, board president of the Rose Community Development Corporation and member of Vision into Action, explained that former Mayor Tom Potter initiated a “visioning” process for the city while in office.
Anthony’s group seeks to put the basic community-based principles that came out of the process into action.
Under this proposal, the Rose Quarter will host a farmers’ market year round, affordable housing, a senior center, educational facilities, a senior center, and places for multicultural groups to gather.
“It’s a lot of little components,” said Anthony.
Leave it alone
Jerry Ghiglieri wants to make sure the coliseum continues to honor veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
With all the talk about revamping the coliseum it can be easy to forget that it was established in 1960 to honor veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Jerry Ghiglieri, standing at a table with three American flags in the background, said that the coliseum was meant to honor veterans, and should stay as is.
“It’s all about them,” she said of veterans. “It’s why we have a coliseum: to honor them.”
She said that she doesn’t want any major changes to coliseum because doing so would detract from its original purpose.
Ghiglieri, who is active in several veterans groups, said her proposal doesn’t call anything beyond an “Irish overhaul” that would involve some basic improvements.
“It’s about following the money,” she added over why the city is in such a hurry to re-develop it.
A velodrome would take Portland’s bike culture to a new level.
Steve Brown and Mark Godfrey want to see Memorial Coliseum turned into a velodrome that would serve as a place where ordinary Portlanders could ride in addition to Olympic-level athletes.
Brown said that with $250,000 the velodrome could be operational in just four weeks.
“If you can ride a bike 12 miles per hour, you can ride this,” said Brown.
Both said that there is a huge demand for this sort of a facility, and it would attract big events to Portland.