They’re the biggest roller derby league in the world and call Portland home, but now zoning regulations and a stricter city fire code are making the Rose City Rollers find a new home in the city they love.
Executive director and founder Kim Stegeman learned from the fire marshal over the summer that because of a stricter city fire code going into effect, she’d either need to install sprinklers at the Oaks Park hangar where the league plays, reduce capacity for games or move.
None are easy options.
The building currently doesn’t even have water and getting the necessary pipes and systems in place would cost between $100,000 to $200,000. Reducing ticket sales from 500 to 200 per game would solve the capacity issue, but it would also mean a financial loss of $130,000 a year.
“People at the city, they have kids that play derby, too,” Stegeman told FOX 12. “Nobody wants to see us go, they want to see us be able to find something and really make this work.”
A spokesperson for Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the Portland Fire Bureau, confirmed to FOX 12 that his office is working with Stegeman to find a new facility.
The group has until July 1 to make the move, but the spokesperson said the commissioner’s office will be flexible if the league continues to show a good-faith effort and needs a little more time.
“I’m pretty optimistic there’s something out there for us,” Stegeman said. “…A rule is a rule and I understand that.”
As it stands now, because the hangar isn’t properly zoned for derby games, she has to get a single-use permit from the city for game weekends. The permits cost roughly $300 a piece, and she needs 12 over the course of a year.
Ideally, she’d like the future home of the derby league to be near southeast Portland with 25,000 square feet to allow them to run double-tracks and continue to expand. It would be a bonus for the space to be properly zoned, too, and getting it for a good price certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Stegeman knows it’s a tall order, but she’s not giving up.
“I think we’re just at a place where this rule happening, plus us feeling the desire to grow, it’s all hitting at the same time,” she said. “Now we just need that magical unicorn of a venue to pop up.”
Anyone with ideas for spaces where the Rose City Rollers could play in the future is asked to contact Stegeman at email@example.com.
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