War memorial at Veterans Coliseum to be removed, stored

Multnomah County

Expensive repairs are needed to ensure the large granite walls with the names of dead WWII and Korean War veterans do not fall.

PMG Photo: Jaime Valdez – A makeshift brace that is currently stabilizing one of the large granite panels at the war memorial at the Veterans Coliseum.

PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — The two large granite war memorial panels at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum are scheduled to be removed and stored because they both need expensive repairs. 

According to Portland officials, the infrastructure holding the panels in place has deteriorated, and the panels themselves have partly dislocated — one or both of them could fall without extensive repairs, and funds have not yet been identified for such work. 

“Unfortunately, the cost is prohibitively high and there are no funds currently identified for restoring the memorials. The stone panels need to be restored, repaired, and the walls the panels are on likely need reconstruction as well,” said Heather Hafer, the public information officers for the Office of Management and Finance.

The two black granite panels are located below ground level and near the main gate. The names of Oregon WWII and Korean War dead are inscribed in gold paint. There are no dates given, only the names and an inscription: “To the memory of a supreme sacrifice we honor those who gave their lives for God, principle and love of country.”

Courtesy photo: City of Portland – The war memorial at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum when it opened in 1960.

Hafer added that the rest of the memorial outside the coliseum requires repair, including the stairs, fountain, planters, and paving. 

“If that level of investment is to be made for the memorials, it would make sense to have a conversation about improving them more completely since many other elements are nearing or at the end of their expected life as well,” Hafer said. 

Much of the rest of the city-owned coliseum is in need of repair and improvements, too. Last year the city’s Spectator Venues and Visitor Activities Program began working with the building’s operator, Rip City Management, on a multi-year reinvestment strategy. A report on the initial work, completed in October 2021, outlines and prioritizes needed renovations.

PMG Photo: Jaime Valdez – One of the large granite panels at the war memorial with a brace visible at the tight top.

The report estimated that it would cost about $34 million to modernize the seating bowl and $43 million to address critical deferred maintenance such as upgrading the electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems. Such funding has not yet been identified 

Completed in 1960, the coliseum is home to the Portland Winterhawks and hosts numerous live events. Although it went largely dormant in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has reopened in recent months.

Portland Tribune and KOIN 6 News are media partners.

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