Uncertainty about convention center hotel could cost Portland an NBA All-Star Game


NBA commissioner: “I would love to end up having an All-Star Game in Portland. It’s really just a function of ensuring that we can fit in town.”

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LaMarcus Aldridge attempts a jump shot during
this year’s All-Star Game in New York City.
(Photos courtesy of Getty Images /
Portland Trail Blazers)

Portland has never hosted an NBA All-Star Game.

The Trail Blazers were hoping to change that reality by being considered as hosts for the event in either 2017 or 2018.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told Sports Illustrated he would “love to end up having an All-Star Game in Portland.”

One problem remains: Where is everyone going to stay while they’re here?

Silver told the media last weekend he fears the Rose City doesn’t have the infrastructure necessary to host a game.

“One of the issues historically for communities like Portland is frankly the number of hotel rooms,” he said in a story published by SI.com.  “We have 1,800 credentialed members of the media alone in need of hotel rooms. Then we have thousands of guests who come to town as well. I would love to end up having an All‑Star Game in Portland. It’s really just a function of ensuring that we can fit in town.”

What’s more frustrating for NBA fans in PDX is there is a proposal to build a hotel big enough to accommodate events like the All Star Game.

In our February issue, Oregon Business research editor Kim Moore examines  the problems holding up construction on a convention center hotel.

From Moore’s story:

The 600-room project, to spring up next to the Oregon Convention Center, is controversial because construction will be funded in part through public money. City planners have been unable to secure purely private investment because the hotel will be required to hold over the majority of its rooms for convention delegates. It will also be built on Portland’s Eastside, which has attracted less private investment than the city’s downtown.

Metro is spearheading the project and will issue a $60 million bond toward construction. Hyatt, the owner of the hotel once it is built, and developer Mortenson Construction, are investing $134 million. Revenue from room taxes will pay for the bond so that it has a “net-zero impact on the public,” says Scott Cruickshank, executive director of the Oregon Convention Center.

The Willamette Week’s Aaron Mesh examined how Silver’s declaration could give Metro leverage over the Coalition for Fair Budget Priorities, the group of downtown hoteliers who launched a pair of lawsuits seeking to block public funding of the convention-center hotel. Mesh’s story stressed how the clock is now ticking to quickly resolve litigation.

Metro President Tom Hughes says the clock is running out on landing the all-star game. 

“We are working really hard to meet the 2018 deadline,” Hughes tells WW. “However, we are in danger of missing that window of opportunity. Every day the opponents delay the project makes it harder to meet the NBA’s deadline.”

Blazers fans are regarded as some of the most passionate in the league — referred to as the NBA’s “soccer moms” by Grantland editor Bill Simmons. So this development could provide the momentum needed to get construction on the convention-center hotel underway.

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 A rendering of the proposed convention center hotel.