In its special session this month, the Oregon Legislature showed that a new basketball arena for the University of Oregon is more important to the state than is replacing the Interstate Bridges between Portland and Vancouver. I say this not because of the time allocated to the two subjects, but because of the money allocated: the Legislature voted $200 million toward the arena based on a promise from Nike founder Philip Knight and his wife to contribute $100 million toward the project.
The state will issue bonds to fund the $200 million. The University projects that the bonds will be paid back from revenues at the arena.
Comparisons are individious, but it strikes me that a $300 million basketball arena is a project about the size of the Rose Garden in Portland, and the Rose Garden's owner couldn't make his debt service payments even with a major league anchor tenant taking up 41+ nights a season. It seems unlikely, then, that the University will be able to pay the debt service, but I might be wrong -- the University may have a financial secret that was not known to Paul Allen.