Hitting It Out Of The Park

Caleb Hattori, Reporter

Portland has been thriving for years, with countless cars, bridges, and skyscrapers. One of the things it seems to be missing, however, is a Major League Baseball Team. For years teams looking for a new home city have been flirting with moving to Portland, but none have pulled the trigger. Now an organization called the Portland Diamond Project is fighting for Portland to have a baseball team to call its own.

Baseball fans in Portland have always been forced to root for the Seattle Mariners, which can be embarrassing for Portland because of the rivalry that the two cities have developed in almost every other sport. Having a ball team in Portland would boost city morale, and it would allow for the next generation to experience baseball in a more real way than Portland has been able to in the past.

There are of course some cons to having a team. Richard Odell, an amateur baseball player in the Portland suburbs believes that the team will not fit Portland. ¨How will funding be developed? There is no way funding can only be private. This will cost taxpayers in higher taxes, assessments, and bonds. Traffic is already terrible in downtown Portland and the I-5/I-84 interchange. How will fans be able to get in and out without causing gridlock?¨ This raises a very good point, as a team will inevitably cause traffic; This hasn’t halted the Portland Diamond Project though. The concept pictures for the stadium show ferries going back and forth across the river, having fans park across the water from the stadium. This would at least spread some of the traffic, allowing for a bit better traffic flow.

Another concern would be the funding for the park. Odell expressed his worry that the team may cause higher taxes, but there is a surprising amount of money coming from private investors. Russel and Ciara Wilson (Seattle Seahawks quarterback and an Emmy Award receiver) have taken great interest in the Portland Diamond Project. Together they donated a considerable amount of money, and in the future hope to own the proposed team. Other major donors have contributed to the project, and currently, the Project seems to have the money it needs for now. John McIsaac, the PR Director for the Portland Diamond Project, says that the Diamond Project is not struggling at all financially at the moment. ¨We have pretty much all the funds we need right now. It is complicated to explain, but money has never been a problem for our group ̈. This is reassuring, though vague as to exactly how much money would be coming from the taxpayer‘s pocket.

The next concern for the team would be to maintain a successful business model once it has been established. McIsaac believes that the team would be able to survive in Portland. He reasons that the Blazers, Timbers, and Thorns have been able to manage a successful business model in the city, so he sees no reason that a baseball team wouldn’t procure the same level of success. With roughly 75% of the community in Portland in support of the team, they should be able to flip a profit and grow the economy in Portland. Amilyn Pierce, the Vice President of Public Affairs for the Arizona Diamondbacks has outlined some of the problems that the Portlands team may face. She believes that Portland has what it takes to host a team, but there are many challenges that the team will need to overcome. ¨I do think that Portland has what it takes but it won’t be easy! There is definitely a desire to have a team from the general public and from the business community, it seems, and those are two must-haves! Portland would face the same ́problem ́ that we already have here in Phoenix: people already have loyalties to another team… The Timbers can sell out a stadium, but I think that’s about 13 games a year? 81 games a year is a lot and very few teams can fill a stadium most of the time ̈.

Clearly, there would be many challenges for the Portland team to face down, but other teams have done it so it would be possible for Portland to leap these hurdles.

Overall, Portland may be ready to receive a Major League Baseball team. With the support of the public, the Portland Diamond Project has momentum right now. However, it will ultimately be a tough path to walk if Portland is to succeed in hosting a team. Nobody knows what the future holds, but a few years down the road Portland may have a team to call its own.

To see more of the project:  https://portlanddiamondproject.com/