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Portland: Track Town North Makes A Run For Hyatt Hotel And More

Vin Lananna via

Vin Lananna

A stepping stone is a good thing for someone taking a step.

Not so good for the stone.

It’s never a win-win deal when the stepping stone is a person, place, or thing.

Sports can be a great stepping stone. How many times have you heard a high school football player say, “If I wasn’t playing football I wouldn’t bother coming to school.”

If that kid keeps showing up to stay eligible, he might catch the education bug bad enough to go to college.

Football has been a solid stepping stone for athletes across America.

Is there a bad stepping stone?

The sports gods of indoor track and field want a world championship meet in Portland. The million square feet of the Convention Center is the targeted venue.

Here comes the big foot.

Local sports news mentioned the possibility of landing the World Indoors with help from the proposed Hyatt Hotel near the Convention Center. It’s the mythical Convention Center Hotel that’s been in the wind for years and it takes a track meet to push the idea.

Who knew indoor track was such a powerhouse?

Track gods in Eugene say the World Indoors would be a step toward a winning bid for a World Outdoor meet. Do it right and plan for bigger and better.

This is the sort of thinking absent in too many Portland plans. Leave it to the track world to explain the idea of placing one foot in front of another.

Would the same fancy footwork work in other sports?

What would you need to build to bring the NHL to Portland? If the Hyatt goes up with a 600 room hotel for track stars, they’d probably allow out of town hockey fans. You wouldn’t have to re-invent ice, either.

Following track and field from indoor to outdoor, you’d think major league hockey would follow minor league hockey. But it hasn’t happened in Seattle or Portland.

Is baseball any better? After Triple A the next step isn’t Single A or Short A. If it’s not a major league team, most cities keep Triple A. Portland lost Triple A and baseball, but Hillsboro found one of them.

Move up to the big daddy of sports, the NFL, and the picture gets even more clouded. When Los Angeles can’t keep the teams it had, or even attract a new one, what chance does Portland have?

Big boy football in Portland means the Portland State Vikings. Without going through the list of failed leagues and teams that have called Portland their temporary home, without going all in on the next Arena Football team, older players here work the semi-pro turf.

Is semi-pro football a springboard to an NFL team? Do you know anyone with season tickets to a semi-pro team? Do they travel to games?

Look at the cities who’ve lost NFL teams for an answer. Baltimore lost the Colts to Indianapolis and gained the Ravens from Cleveland. St.Louis lost the Cardinals to Phoenix but gained the Rams from LA. Oakland lost the Raiders to LA, but got them back. Cleveland lost the Browns to Baltimore, but got the New Browns back.  The NFL likes proven NFL cities, just not LA.

If Portland was a serious contender for bad franchises looking for a new start, building a hotel would help, but even more infrastructure would lure teams in. Find a space like Portland International Raceway, build state of the art baseball and football stadiums back to back. Connect them to MAX. Then wait for the offers to pour in.

With hundreds and hundreds of millions tied up waiting for teams, you’d learn what sort of sports mecca Portland really is. Build it and they still don’t come? That’s the sign of a one horse town.

If they do come and the community embraces the experience, call it the World Indoor Track Effect.

One foot, then the other. Repeat.

Successful projects like a party. After the new Hyatt rises up on the eastside, let’s get Vin Lananna to jump start the Columbia River Crossing. He could stop in Salem along the way and put the state finances on steady ground.

The man things big, works big, and delivers. What more could you ask of a baby boomer?


About David Gillaspie


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Vin Lananna.


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