By my count, it’s been eight years since anybody seriously talked about Portland, Oregon, getting a major-league baseball team, and even then the only one serious about it was Florida Marlins president David Samson, who was just polishing his future Survivor bio. (The mayor at the time said of his citizens’ disdain for pro baseball: “That’s my very strong sense.”) Since then, Portland has renovated its only baseball stadium for the MLS Timbers, forcing its only minor-league baseball team to relocate; but, hey, if not even having a minor-league team isn’t stopping people in Montréal from trying to get an MLB team, why should it stop Portland, so away we go:
Portland’s backers of baseball have the blueprint for a state-of-the-art baseball-only stadium, which would have a retractable roof and seat 35,000. They have community support, including that of the current city administration. A site, endorsed by mayor Charlie Hales, has been chosen, next to Memorial Coliseum and the new Rose Garden, home of the NBA’s Trailblazers.
“We have the land and the infrastructure,” said architect Barry Smith.
The supporters believe they can find an ownership group, possibly a major Japanese firm, along the lines of Nintendo, which owns the Seattle Mariners.
All the folks in Portland need is a team.
Let’s see, a site, an architect, the mayor’s endorsement, a team, what else could they possibly need? Oh, right, money. Which was kind of a problem last time.
The MLB.com article reporting on all this (by Tracy Ringolsby, who used to work for actual newspapers, as did we all) is very hazy on who baseball’s “backers” in Portland actually are, but it looks like it’s mostly Smith, who’s designed several small buildings in the city, and Lynn Lashbrook, an NFL agent and sports management trainer. But they’ve managed to get people in Oakland starting to worry about the A’s leaving the Bay Area, which is half the battle. If you’re the owner of the A’s, that is.