clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yes we're talking about baseball in Portland again

I don't know. This seems to come up every few months, so maybe it means something. But I'm on the ground here in Portland, and I just don't see any good reason to get excited about Major League Baseball here yet.

Here's the very latest coming up, via's Tracy Ringolsby:

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.

They would welcome an existing team, or an expansion club if Major League Baseball reaches a point of deciding to add two teams to create two 16-team leagues. Portland folks believe their city would be a perfect location. Right now, however, baseball seems to be in a holding pattern in terms of relocation and expansion.

Professionally speaking, the single best thing that could happen to me would be Major League Baseball in Portland. So I have every reason to cheer for a story like this.

But I gotta tell you, we folks in Portland need a lot more than a team.

Let's suppose that tomorrow the Athletics were up for grabs. Here's what else we would need:

1. An owner or owners with $500 million to purchase the A's
This person probably does not exist in Portland, or anywhere nearby. I don't really know where this "possibly a major Japanese firm" comes from, but there are plenty of billionaires outside of Japan and Oregon who want to own baseball teams. And Portland's a lovely place to spend a summer.

Oh, but that $500 million? That's probably way, way low. Without even including the many millions probably needed to indemnify the Mariners for their loss of revenues.

2. A ballpark
Nobody has "the land and the infrastructure." What that means, I think, is that ballpark advocates have a favorite site, and that favorite site is well-served by public transportation. True enough. But environmental-impact studies? Site acquisition? Sign-offs from neighborhood association? I don't believe that anything of those things exist, or nearly exist.

3. Public and political will
It's not at all clear that enough people care. Actually, forget about the people; time after time, municipal authorities have ramrodded publicly financed ballparks through, despite the apathy and sometimes even the outright resistance of most voters. In Portland, that would mean the mayor and a majority of the city council, and perhaps the support of a suburban governmental authority, too. Well, none of those people are talking about a baseball stadium. The other day, the mayor was interviewed for 30 minutes and baseball wasn't mentioned. I read the newspaper every day -- well, every day it's actually delivered, which isn't actually every day any more -- and this just isn't among the top 20 things that anybody seems to be talking about.

Yes, maybe if a franchise were available, all these things could happen in a hurry. But we're not going to know until then. And hurry doesn't seem to be in a lot of vocabularies around here.