|Trail Blazers President Larry Miller says "This place is alive and vibrant when an event is going on. When it's not, tumbleweeds blow through here." The Rose Quarter redevelopment project will turn the event-oriented district into a 24-7 entertainment spot.|
Jumptown. That's what Trail Blazers President Larry Miller wants to call a Rose Quarter redevelopment project that will turn the event-oriented district into a 24-7 entertainment spot.
"This place is alive and vibrant when an event is going on," he said. "When it's not, tumbleweeds blow through here."
Miller and Arena Event Management hope they can turn this intermittent ghost town into a model of sustainable business – both from an economic and environmental perspective. Although the proposal is in its beginning stages, they hope to alter the interior of the Coliseum to reflect modern event needs and develop a variety of other business on the site.
The name Jumptown comes from the neighborhood's own vibrant history, before it was largely destroyed by the city of Portland, Legacy Emanuel Hospital expansion and other socioeconomic and racial changes, such as the end of real estate red-lining. Through much of the early to mid-20th century, the inner Northeast area along Williams Avenue and Broadway was a nonstop avenue of jazz clubs, pool halls and drinking parlors. During its demise, many referred to the avenue as the "bucket of blood" – a place notorious for fights and violence.
As a way point on the West Coast between San Francisco and Seattle, nearly every major music act on tour during the time stopped through Jumptown. Not a lot has changed since those days. Combined, the Memorial Coliseum and Rose Garden Arena hosted events for 300 days out of the year. Many events share both venues – such as the Winterhawks hockey team and the annual Dew Action Sports Tour.
Meeting with Mayor Sam Adams' Stakeholder Advisory Committee on Oct. 12, J. Isaac, Portland Trailblazers' senior vice president for business affairs, said they are looking into proposals to downsize the bowl of the Coliseum to better reflect the needs of event organizers. Isaac said it was possible to reduce capacity while attracting additional business.
Isaac said the Blazers are looking into several options for creating additional buildings for the entertainment district, including converting the top of one of the city-owned parking garages.
Local businessman Sam Brooks said he's generally supportive of the idea.
"We had a great plan in the beginning for a venue that was responsive to the needs of the community," Brooks, a member of the stakeholder committee, told The Skanner news. "If it does, it'll be a great success."
Arena Event Management is leading the proposal to alter the seating capacity of the Coliseum. AEG is responsible for managing the Staples Center in Los Angeles and London's O2 Arena, two venues with thriving entertainment districts similar to the one being proposed for the Rose Quarter.