Portland group buying land for future MLB ballpark


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.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.