Outer East Portland ‘Regional Soccer Center’ gets a boost from local team owner

At a total cost of $300,000, this promises to be more than a mowed field with stripes painted on it! Find out where it will be constructed – and how close they are to their fundraising ‘Goal’ …

(Crouched below) Timber Joey, (standing) Timbers’ defender Scot Thompson, Timbers’ owner Merritt Paulson, keeper Adin Brown, and Portland City Commissioners Nick Fish and Amana Fritz “huddle” before meeting the Parkrose High students.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The all-student assembly at Parkrose High School the morning of Friday, May 28, proved to be an exciting event.

Members of the Portland Timbers soccer club – which plans to go major-league next year – were the main attraction.

But, with the entry into Rossi Field House of the school district’s superintendent and two board members, the Parkrose High Principal, and Portland City Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish, everyone suspected a major announcement was coming.

Parkrose School District Board Member Ed Grasso, Parkrose High’s principal, Ana Gonzalez, Parkrose School’s Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray and Portland Commissioner Nick Fish stop for a photo before the program begins.

As the students filed in, Commissioner Fish confided, “As the City’s Parks Commissioner, I’ve made a pledge to improve ball fields, citywide. We’re here today in outer East Portland to let everyone know we’re getting close to fulfilling that pledge. But because funding is tight, we can’t do it alone.”

Timbers’ owner kicks in $50,000
Fish then introduced Merritt Paulson, the owner of “Shortstop, LLC”, parent company of the Portland Timber sports franchise (as well as the Portland Beavers baseball club). “He’s stepping up, on behalf of the Timbers, and making a $50,000 contribution to the Parkrose Regional Soccer Center project to help the kids here their own ‘field of dreams’.”

Even though the soccer center will be constructed on the grounds of Parkrose High School – and will be dedicated to school sports during school days – Fish pointed out that other groups, such as soccer clubs, will be permitted to make use of the facility, just as with facilities at other Portland area parks.

Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray welcomes dignitaries, staff and students to the assembly.

A $300,000 facility
According to Beth Sorensen, spokesperson for Portland Parks & Recreation, the City of Portland has contributed $100,000 to the project. The school district pledged a matching $100,000 fund. “With the Timbers’ contribution, that leaves only a final $50,000 to be raised, to reach the goal and start development of the new field.”

The funds will be used to install two new two new soccer fields, just east of the Parkrose High stadium, with drainage, irrigation, and lighting systems.

Rousing Bronco reception
As the Parkrose Jazz Band played, the crowd of Parkrose High students cheered as Timbers team members “Timber Joey”, Scot Thompson, and Adin Brown came into the field house.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz says good students deserve good recreational facilities.

Dr. Karen Fischer Gray welcomed all dignitaries present, and handed the microphone to Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “Thank you, students, for working so hard all year on your studies. When you work hard in school you deserve good athletic facilities as well. Today, we’re here to celebrate a private donation. We need private organizations is to be government partners to help improve our facilities. I’m very happy to be here today.”

Commissioner Fritz turned over the microphone to fellow Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish.

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish – the person, who supervises the parks bureau, tells why he’s enthusiastic about the new soccer field project.

“First a word about your educational superintendent, Dr. Karen Gray,” Fish began. “No superintendent in Portland spends more time in City Hall advocating on behalf of the young men and women than she does.”

Fish introduced captains of the Parkrose High Varsity Soccer Team, then said, “In 2011, Major League Soccer is coming to Portland. When talking about where to make a contribution to our community with Merritt Paulson, we said almost simultaneously, East Portland is the place where we need to make the investment, and why not Parkrose High School! Thank you, Merritt Paulson.”

Dr. Gray accepts a ceremonial check from donor Merritt Paulson.

The really, big check
With that, Merritt Paulson stepped forward with his jumbo-sized, ceremonial check, which was accepted by Dr. Gray.

“On behalf of the Parkrose School District, Parkrose, and the wonderful, growing and developing area of East Portland, we thank Merritt Paulson for his generous donation to the Parkrose soccer field,” said Gray.

Nothing makes a crowd cheer like getting free Timbers’ gear. Wait a minute! Shouldn’t the Timbers’ seven-season veteran, Scot Thompson, be kicking the merchandise into the stands?

Parkrose Varsity Soccer players and those from the Timbers demonstrate their ball-handling skills

Players then tossed out T-shirts, which made a great hit.  And then they organized soccer kicking games and stunts for the enjoyment of the youth in the grandstands, to end the event on a note of excitement and fun.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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