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Portland Bevos update: Tucson-bound?

With PGE Park slated for a conversion to an MLS soccer facility after this baseball season, the Portland Beavers will be homeless. There's still no game plan on the books, but here's the latest talk about the possible future of the team.

With PGE Park slated for a conversion to an MLS soccer facility after this baseball season, the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will be homeless. There's still no game plan on the books, but here's the latest talk about the possible future of the team.

One thing is certain: the team will not be in Portland next season. There's no alternative facility in town suitable for professional baseball: Portland State University doesn't carry a baseball team. If a new ballpark were in the works in Portland, the team could conceivably play a season in Salem or Corvallis at existing pro and college facilities. But there's no plan for a new Portland ballpark.

The temporary destination for the Bevos, according to many insiders, is Tucson Electric Park, the former home of the Tucson Sidewinders (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). It's not an ideal situation, with the Tucson Toros (independent; Golden Baseball League) successfully playing out of Hi Corbett Field. 

Still, it's a workable solution, and it's not as though there are a ton of Triple-A facilities just sitting around empty.

This plan doesn't address who will own the Beavers: Merritt Paulson has reportedly put the team on the market. Two potential buyers have emerged. Both offer intriguing possibilities for the team's future.

The first is the Beavers' parent, the San Diego Padres. If the Padres buy the team, they reportedly would work on bringing the team to a new ballpark in North County. Demographically, such a move would make sense if the Padres can find public funding for a new Triple-A ballpark. There could be some collateral damage — could a Triple-A team co-exist with the Lake Elsinore Storm (High Class A; California League)? — but there are some folks in baseball very enthusiastic about the idea.

The second is a group out of El Paso, who would operate the team in Tucson until a new ballpark in that city is completed. They've concluded Cohen Stadium isn't suitable for renovations, and their goal is a new ballpark. Now, there's some question about El Paso having the demographics for Triple-A baseball in terms of household income and the like; it's a bigger market, but it's also a poorer market. Still, the El Paso Diablos posted decent attendance numbers when the team was in the Texas League: of course, it took Jim Paul throwing a lot of tickets into the community and scheduling a promotion every night of the season.

El Paso isn't the only market in Texas that could end up as the eventual home of the Beavers: a McAllen group reportedly was on the lookout for a Triple-A team, and things aren't totally dead in Sugar Land. 

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