Portland group buying land for future MLB ballpark

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NBC Sports Northwest reports that a group in Portland, Oregon called The Portland Diamond Project has made formal offers on two separate large parcels of land for the purposes of building a 32,000-seat major league ballpark and a large-scale development including residential and commercial units.

The group, led by Craig Cheek, a retired Nike vice present, has made offers on an industrial site in Northwest Portland a separate site near the Moda Center arena, where the Trailblazers play, in Northeast Portland. The potential ballpark, which at the moment is promised to involve no public funding, would be designed by Populous, the Kansas City-based architecture firm known for ushering in the Camden Yards-era of ballparks.

Maury Brown, himself a Portland resident who has spend years reporting on previous efforts to bring baseball to Portland, says that the Portland Diamond Project is not setting itself up to be a team ownership group. Rather, they simply wish to build a ballpark in the hopes of attracting either a current team that would relocate or an expansion team.

At the moment baseball has no plans to expand, but my belief is that baseball will expand at some point in the next few years, driven more by the availability of existing or imminent new stadiums as opposed to any baseball necessity. A new team would pay the current 30 owners north of a billion dollars for the privilege of joining the club and that kind of money, times two, will be hard to pass up. If this project got underway, eyes would turn to Montreal, in all likelihood, where stadium efforts have stalled in recent years but could be goosed if it was thought there was a real opportunity to land a team. Short of that, a Portland ballpark would put much more pressure on Tampa and Oakland and serve as an attractive relocation landing spot for either the Rays or A’s.

There have been multiple false starts for baseball in Portland over the years, with the lack of a viable ballpark plan serving as the biggest stumbling block. This effort does not ensure that a second team will come to the Pacific Northwest, but it certainly moves things forward.