Paulson plays hardball

Merritt Paulson says MLS in Portland is questionable if the Beavers don’t find a new home.

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In his ongoing effort to get a new baseball stadium built in Beaverton, Portland Beavers owner Merritt Paulson raised the stakes by throwing the future of Major League Soccer in Portland on the table – although he later expressed confidence that deals would be reached for both sports.

Beaverton leaders are considering a $59 million baseball package to build a new stadium. At Tuesday night’s meeting, Beaverton City Councilor Cathy Stanton questioned whether Paulson has secured an agreement to buy and operate the pro soccer franchise beginning in 2011, requiring a $31 million renovation to Portland’s PGE Park.

“Yes,” Paulson responded. “But it’s conditional on finalizing the deal with Portland. And if I don’t get a baseball deal done, I’m not going to finalize the deal with Portland. So MLS will not come to Portland unless I do a deal for a new baseball park.”

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