All Portland needs to join MLB is a team (and a few hundred million dollars)

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.


7 comments on “All Portland needs to join MLB is a team (and a few hundred million dollars)

  1. Someone ought to tell Lew Wolff that he’s doing it wrong then. He’s already told Portland no thanks and gone about his business. You’d think he’s trump up the Portland “threat” to try and generate some traction with Oakland or the league vis-a-vis San Jose. But instead, nothing. He’s been content to do nothing since he moved his sights to San Jose over 5 years ago. The guy is the antithesis of Al Davis.

  2. Dan: Really? Lew needs to generate traction with Oakland? That’s funny – because in reality, Wolff is totally ignoring Oakland all together. He could have generated traction in Oakland for many years, but instead decided to give the city the stiff arm. Now the city is moving forward WITHOUT Lew because he’s such an thorn in the side of any potential positive movement in Oakland!

    I do agree “Lew is doing it wrong” – but it’s not because he needs to increase traction – he actually just needs to be visible / show up / have a conversation / be pleasant / talk etc. It’s not hard really. A park in Oakland will not become reality w/o hiccups etc, but really the actual BIGGEST roadblock right now is the ownership itself (which is just ridiculous).

    Hopefully he will be forced to sell the team – it’s why organizations in oakland are moving forward w/o Lew – because he has been so difficult in the past.

    Go Oakland!

  3. I don’t see MLB ever coming to Portland. It would just be another small market team in need of constant revenue from the luxury tax pie. Portland is not a big baseball town. The AAA Beavers often drew less than 1,000 fans if the weather was not perfect. The Beavers were last in the Pacific Coast League in attendance and were outdrawn by much smaller markets like Tacoma, Reno and Fresno (not exactly MLB potential towns). Portland is fine for Class A baseball (much like the nearby Hillsboro Hops) but would never be considered for a MLB team. Plus Portland would never build a $500 million plus, 35,000 seat stadium with a retractable roof for some MLB team owner. Not in this lifetime.

  4. I’m not sure Nintendo of America would have intentionally shopped for the Mariners to add to their portfolio. However, even Japanese executives know how to avoid the death-tax man.
    http://blogs.seattletimes.com/mariners/2013/09/19/mariners-owner-hiroshi-yamauchi-dies-at-85/

  5. Lew-Lew & Co. ain’t goin’ nowhere, making a profit no matter how much the local drum beaters/flag wavers in the cheap seats who don’t understand the biz jump up and down.
    The Oak. locals in charge are their own “thorn in side” being the 21st century version of the keystone cops – u young-ins will have to go to YouTube for that.
    The 35k size is what Lew-Lew said he wanted years ago, of course he also wanted a mallpark of nothing but club $eating. Real smart pr if you’re begging for taxpayer $’s to make it happen, eh?
    Portland wouldn’t be any better a market than the small corner of NorCal the A’z have now and it’s a town that’s dominated by one biz and they would want the name to be the Nike’s. MLB franchises needs many different kinds of biz partners to rake in the $’s.

  6. Total costs (conservative):
    Franchise $500m-$700m
    Stadium $500m+
    Buying 1/3 of Mariners media territory $600m (assuming they would sell)

    So it’s more like $2 billion than $200m, to acquire a small market franchise.

    While I’m in the camp that believes Portland would make a nice MLB market, I also believe it is pure fantasy in this economic structure and I think the article was run purely to gauge interest (clicks) from the Portland area. And perhaps a lame attempt to nudge Oakland out of limbo.

  7. idk why people compare minor league Beavers to an MLB franchise….. NO ONE goes to minor league games consistently bc players move around too much, there’s 0 continuity, so how people always compare the two is beyond me!

    People say Oregon isn’t a sports town, or its not a baseball town, or its not a football town, ect…. but the Trailblazers sell out even when they’re mediocre like in years past & the University of Oregon and Oregon State were both #1 seeds in the College World Series preliminaries. University might have the best football facilities in the country. And Portland supports its MLS team better than anyone in the league…..

    Idk how people perpetuate this idea that Oregon & Sports don’t mix, or Oregon & Baseball don’t mix, etc etc. It’s baffling.

    The A’s could move to Portland, I doubt it’ll happen, but I don’t think it would be bad if they did. The only thing I care about is: DEMOLISH O.CO! I can’t stand watching any sporting event there, so they can stay in Oakland, but for heaven sake; get out of that s#ithole ASAP. (both the A’s & Raiders)

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