Aug 2, 2023 - Sports

Portland's quest to nab a Major League Baseball team

⚾ How Axios readers say they feel about an MLB team coming to Portland
Data: Axios reader survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

If we build it, will they come? For decades, Portland has been courting a Major League Baseball team. With recent moves toward partnerships and increasing industry chatter, some advocates believe landing a Portland team is closer to reality than ever.

Why it matters: Portland is one of the largest metropolitan cities without a professional baseball team. Supporters believe bringing one here could significantly bolster economic activity and the city's reputation as a hotspot for sports and entertainment.

What they're saying: Cody Bowman, a spokesperson for Mayor Ted Wheeler, confirmed to Axios Portland that the city is in "active communications" with the Portland Diamond Project, the organization spearheading the effort to bring a professional baseball team to Oregon's largest city.

  • Portland Diamond Project founder and president Craig Cheek told Axios via email that talks with the city are advancing in an effort "to align on the vision and explore the best possible real estate plays to unlock the opportunity."

Driving the news: The majority of readers who responded to last week's Axios survey reported that they're interested in an MLB team coming to Portland and support the city's efforts to do so.

  • A little over three-quarters of the 186 respondents said they would prefer a stadium be built on the location of the shopping mall at Lloyd Center.

Context: The NE Portland shopping center was selected as a main contender for a potential stadium after years of problems that were compounded by the pandemic caused a mass exodus among retailers, leaving a huge hole in Portland's central core.

  • The group has reportedly also offered RedTail Golf Center, which is owned by the city, $30 million in case talks with Lloyd Center's owners fall through.

What you're saying: Many respondents said they'd be season ticket holders if an MLB team came to town, while noting the potential positive impacts on the city's economy.

  • "A baseball stadium located at Lloyd Center would hopefully give that area of Portland a chance to thrive," one reader wrote. "Portland also has so much to offer in terms of its existing businesses that could be featured at games — breweries, wineries, so many incredible food carts and restaurants."

Meanwhile, others questioned whether public funds would be diverted to build a new stadium instead of being spent on affordable housing development.

  • "We have a housing shortage, not a baseball stadium shortage," another reader said. "We can't let more people be priced out of the city just to turn around and build something optional."

The bottom line: Whether or not the city can finally nab a MLB team relies on factors outside of the mayor's office and Portland Diamond Project's control.

  • First the league aims to sort out its regional revenue structure — any expansion would come after addressing that challenge.
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