Dear Nick Fish,
My name is Lucas Grzybowski. I have been a Portland resident since 2001, and a sports fan my entire life. Among my earliest memories are the family watching the World Series, and Super Bowl parties with family and friends. My Dad and I used to attend many single-A baseball games in South Florida where I grew up; later, when we got a major league team in Miami, we went to many of those. After Dad died in 1994, a friend of his managed to sneak onto the field before a Marlins game and sprinkle some of his ashes on the grass. Whenever I see a game at Dolphins Stadium now, I think of my Dad, and how special a spot sports held in our relationship.
When my girlfriend and I discovered the Timbers in 2004...well, without overstating things, it changed our lives. We have become avid - I daresay rabid - soccer fans, and have traveled to three different countries to see games of various sorts (including the 2006 World Cup in Germany). A good many of our friends in town are people we have met through going to Timbers games. In short, we are Timbers fanatics. In my lifelong experience as a sports fan, the Timbers have a unique relationship with the fans and city. Being a member of the Timbers Army is like being a part of an extended family. We break bread together, we share one another's lives, we travel together, and naturally we attend games together.
I am writing to urge you to vote in support of the initiative to bring Major League Soccer to our city. Portland is already known around the country and the world as a very passionate soccer town. Our team plays in the second division of soccer, in a country not exactly known for it's fervent soccer support. Yet when I wore my Timbers Army scarf in Germany during the World Cup, or in Columbus last month at the US vs Mexico match, people repeatedly approached me to say they recognized the scarf, that they had seen the Timbers on television, etc. and really loved what they saw of the atmosphere, fans, etc. Portland is a soccer town, and deserves to be in the highest level of soccer in this country.
I am no economist, I do not claim to know the various baroque details of the deal being worked out - but if the city is in fact safe from financial damage as I have been led to believe, and if Merritt Paulson has actually put his family's money up as the guarantor of the bonds - then I can see no reason why we should not move forward with this. MLS is a league on the rise, it is stable and growing. Having a team in the highest division will offer manifold benefits to this town, and not just to the soccer fans; it will bring even more national and international attention and prestige to Portland.
I believe sports are an important facet to any healthy, diverse city; as much as any bookstore, symphony, public transit system, business community or bird watching club. Portland is a town that loves its sports (dozens of consecutive Blazers' sellouts at the Rose Garden can attest to this, not to mention the fever pitch you can see whenever the Ducks and Beavers play one another in football), but we only have one 'major league' team in town. Please help to bring another major league to Portland.
Please do the right thing. Please do not stick your heads in the sand in these troubling economic times. Rather I urge you to thumb your nose at the naysayers and those who would rather climb into a shell and do nothing; and take a proactive step toward further enriching the personality and health of our fantastic city. I urge you to vote in support of bringing an MLS franchise to Portland.
Friday, March 06, 2009
Vote YES on MLS 2 PDX
In advance of next week's vote on the plan to refurbish PGE Park for an MLS Timbers expansion team, here is a copy of the letter I just sent to the Portland City Commissioners and Mayor Sam Adams. It's no literary triumph, but I feel it hits the salient points I wanted to hit: