Portland MLB boosters have no team or stadium funds, but they do have ballpark drawings with an outfield tram, so there

In the world of vaportecture, renderings for a proposed stadium for a proposed expansion team for an expansion that isn’t even happening yet are the vaporiest tecture of all. So it’s perhaps not surprising that the Portland Diamond Project — the group that wants to bring MLB to Portland, Oregon, if MLB ever gets around to expanding — accompanied the announcement of its purchase agreement for Port of Portland land along the Willamette River with a bunch of images that are attention-grabbing to say the least:

Yes, that is a stadium with a gondola running right up into the right-field corner. Why? Why not! Kids love the gondolas! Look, here are some young adults — who given how long it’ll take to get this thing built if it ever is, are probably about eight years old right now — taking selfies on the gondola platform. That’s totally a thing that Kids Today of the future will do!

But more important, what’s up with that double-decker transparent roof that covers maybe 10% of the seating from the rain, but not the sun, even though baseball is a sport that stops play during rain but not during sun? Here’s another angle:

Okay, so you can have shade at the Portland ballgame, but only if you sit at one of the center-field umbrella-tables by the bicycle racks. Everybody loves maneuvering past people eating brunch while ignoring a nearby baseball game in order to park their bikes!

Finally, here’s another angle of the roof, in which it appears to have been designed for an entirely different rendering:

The sun reflecting off the roof is a nice touch, though — lens flare, everybody take a drink! — even if given the positioning of the stadium this means that the sun is actually in the north.

Still to be determined, according to the Oregonian’s report: “the terms of the agreement between the Portland of Portland [sic — outsourcing its copy editing to people who live in another state is clearly working out great for the Oregonian] and the Portland Diamond Project for the property, what stadium backers would pay to use Terminal 2 and who’s agreed to foot the multibillion-dollar costs of building a stadium and bringing a team to Portland.” So maybe planning for this stadium to become a reality the minute the earth spins off its axis is a fair assessment.

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13 comments on “Portland MLB boosters have no team or stadium funds, but they do have ballpark drawings with an outfield tram, so there

  1. I truly love stadium concept art. It’s the architectural equivalent to the old Norman Rockwell paintings where everything is so perfectly idealized. The stands are always packed yet the common areas have tons of room with people just strolling around leisurely, never encountering a crowd. (And oddly, a high percentage of the people seem oblivious to the game as they stare off in the opposite direction or are headed away from the action.) That tram car sure looks fun but it is comfortably at 1/3 capacity and there are only three people on the walkway below. None of the umbrella tables are at full capacity and the one on the far right is still totally open. The bikes are all perfectly spaced out in the racks and apparently you can ride your bike right through security to get to the in-park bike racks. How cool is that?. Somehow it was a sellout but the servers on this terrace did terrible in tips because hardly anybody found that part of the ballpark.

  2. -The hills and the sun are to the southwest, not the north (unless they sneakily decided to build the stadium on the north bank of the Columbia River in Vancouver Washington).

    -They have said all along that it would be built privately (aside from the $150m already being diverted from SB5 legislation from 2003) – this brings a whole host of other questions.

    -Otherwise there are plenty of things to nitpick about the renderings (gondola????), and I thought it was interesting how the A’s rolled out their proposal at the same time.

    1. So the sun is in the background out of frame, and is reflecting obliquely off the glass? But also somehow casting shadows from the pillars on the north side of the stadium onto the stadium interior?

      Clearly I don’t understand the geometry of shapeshifting roofs.

      1. Ah, you mean the shadows, got it. Hey maybe the moon was really bright that day, or the lighting — meh, I got nuthin’.

    2. You’re right about the sun, but the Terminal 2 site is on the Willamette not the Columbia, and both sides of the river are in Portland.

  3. So much joy in these…
    1. Clearly this is second-hand (pre-loved?) Oakland vaportecture, gondola and all.
    2. Will they be called the Pox? The grass says so. Looking forward to the double-A Boise Small Pox.
    3. Stuart Little’s gonna be struggling for those splash balls against the humans.
    4. I guess it’s just down the road for the Rays fans. Both of them.

  4. Maybe it is because I have nearly 30 years experience at being an 8 year old, but I’d like to watch baseball from a gondola

  5. I assume, and the Oregonian article confirms, that’s a transparent retractable roof. I assume it is simply two pieces stacked that come together when the roof is closed. Intense sun isn’t exactly a major problem in Portland but the fact that it rains every other day (or more) for the first two months of the baseball season is an issue.

    Basically, you have to have a roof of some sort to make the baseball season practical in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s Safeco Field solves it with a retractable roof but when closed the place kind of feels like a cave. So basically they said “let’s take Safeco field, store the roof over home plate rather than right field and make it transparent, which since they want to sell vaportecture to baseball fans in the PNW….of they did.

    1. The geometry doesn’t work for a retractable roof: Even if those are rails down the first- and third-base lines that could hold a roof as it slides into place, they’re at 90-degree angles to each other, which isn’t how tracks work.

      The bottom rendering depicts what could be a retractable roof, but there’s nothing in the two top renderings depicting what would hold the roof up.

      At best, this would be hideously expensive, almost certainly $1 billion or more. At worst, the people doing the renderings didn’t actually talk to any engineers or architects, they just drew whatever they thought would be pretty.

      1. Yeah, the geometry doesn’t work. In theory it could be a clamshell-type roof (like Miller Park) and the rails on the baselines could kind of work with some reinforcement but the other renderings show a more conventional retractable roof (like everywhere else).

        But, yes, I would expect any stadium in Portland to be over $1B. Any team in Portland will almost certainly either have a roof (which nowadays seems to mean a retractable roof), an agreement with MLB to have the team travel most of the first couple months of the season, or a LOT of rainouts. The first will cost $1B dollars and the second two would be unpopular with the rest of the league.

        Which brings up a fair point with regard to the prospects of baseball in Portland: Portland neither has the political environment that makes taxpayers prone to hand over billions of dollars nor a big enough market to warrant a private owner forking over a billion plus expansion fees. Portland is otherwise a pretty good choice for a MLB expansion market.

        1. Looking at the renderings more closely, it looks like the rails aren’t parallel to the foul lines, but at an angle to them, creating short porches in the corners almost akin to the Polo Grounds. The renderers still didn’t draw it correctly to make this apparent — there’s no way the rails on the left and right sides of that middle image are parallel — but I think that’s what the architects, if any, intend.

          tl;dr: This isn’t anything like what this stadium would actually look like, assuming it’s ever built, which it probably won’t be in any form anywhere close to this.

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