John Canzano’s recently posted an article about tearing down the Memorial Coliseum. I’m sure we all have our individual feelings, and my first reaction was NO.
It’s a place with so much history and has deep roots in Portland. Our only major championship was won there and it is a beautiful place. But after a few seconds, I started to think, is it only because of selfish reasons that I said no?
I don’t know what the Memorial Coliseum means to you, but let me tell you what it means to me. I was born in 1984; my name is Jeffry, because my mom would not let my dad spell my name with a G, like Geoff Petrie, the first Portland Trail Blazer. She was worried people would confuse me with Geoffrey the Giraffe, from Toys’ R Us. My dad was one of the original season ticket holders, and if you didn’t pick it up earlier, he was a big fan.
I went to a lot of games with him in Memorial, being so young I don’t remember them too well, but I still have my moments. My first memory there was playing the Sacramento Kings in the preseason, I remember those blue jerseys and being so confused as to why that game didn’t count (it was not until I was in my teens that I realized it was preseason). My dad rarely missed a game; the day I was born at 11:20 a.m., he attended the Blazers game that night. For some reason, he absolutely could not attend the 1992 NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls, so I got to experience a Finals game there. The only things I can remember from that game were the gravel parking lot, going with my cousin, the people in front of me were tall (I was only seven) and the Bulls won.
I remember when the Rose Garden opened, my dad bringing me home the cool flashlights they used to celebrate the first night there. I don’t remember the first game I went to there, but I do remember a lot since.
My dad passed away June 8th, 1999. The day he passed away I was lost, but I showed up for my summer league freshman high school game. So many people asked me that day, “Are you sure you want to be playing?” That was the only place I wanted to be, the only place I thought my dad was still here. I’m not sure if I am joking when I say that Sean Elliot’s heels above the line contributed, as that was a few weeks for, but I do know, with him being gone, I always have great memories revolved around basketball and especially the Blazers.
In 2003 the State High School Championships were played at the Coliseum; it was the first time I had been there since my dad had passed, and my high school team was playing in the State Tournament. I remember walking onto the court the day before for a shoot-around, an 18-year-old high school senior, being wrapped up in emotion, and all I could think about was my dad. I had not been in that building in years, and almost every time my dad was with me. The court, the lights, the seats, the scoreboard, they all took me back to childhood, it may have been the most overwhelming thing ever. I remember the energy during that shoot-around: it was just so exciting and I could not miss that first day.
Playing basketball, I always felt like my dad was in the stands after he was gone, it was the only place I could still find him, and maybe playing there provided closure for me. Playing there in 2003 was my last real game and looking back, that was probably a great closing chapter to the game I love.
So looking back on John Canzano’s article, do I really want the Memorial Coliseum to stay because I have great memories? After some thought, I say no. But it has to be for the right reason. A minor league stadium is definitely not worth it there, the Hops have a perfect location in Hillsboro. Should they put a brewery and shops around the Rose Garden? Probably not, I feel they have tried similar things and the past that shut down due to lack of business.
I don’t know what the solution is at the moment, so for now I want to see that building keep standing, but eventually, I think they can get the right idea as a replacement.
Until then, I shared my memories, what are yours?