Almost all the beating is coming from Lynn Lashbrook, president of Sports Management Worldwide and the primary backer for the aborted effort to move the Expos to Portland in 2003. But it is beating. Here’s a story about Lashbrook’s efforts and estimates regarding the cost and logistics of a ballpark. Here’s an interesting sidebar about how the A’s (or whoever) could theoretically play in the Hillsboro Hops’ minor league park temporarily while a stadium is built.
That’s all good — Lashbrook is doing a lot to answer the inevitable “how it might work” questions — but the biggest issue is still unaddressed: who pays for a ballpark and who owns the team.
The team ownership issue is key, because it’s highly unlikely that either the current owners of the A’s or Rays would commit to any sort of massive self-financed stadium project in a new city. And that’s before you take into account the fact that neither have expressed a desire to sell. But, say they do: someone has to buy the A’s or the Rays for some amount north of $500 million and south of a billion, and that same someone would have to pony up hundreds of millions for a stadium. All with no promise of the kind of TV money the Dodgers received after their $2 billion sale. Because Portland may want baseball, but they only have so many people to broadcast it to.
So it would take a sports-crazed billionaire, really. And yes, Portland has one. Maybe two. But neither have expressed much interest in getting into the baseball business. Maybe that changes — now would not be the best time for them to go public with their great interest in doing so — but until it does, baseball in Portland seems more like a pipe dream than a reality.