As baseball reached the half-way point of the season, the short-term situation for the Portland Beavers is still undetermined. Sure, there are a few short-term options out there, but a long-term solution is proving to be elusive, to say the least. We also throw out one potential long-term solution to the Bevos’ issues.
For those not following the saga: the Bevos are currently homeless for the 2011 season and beyond, as a renovation of Portland’s PGE Park will turn the facility into a soccer-only stadium, with the Portland Timbers moving up to MLS next season. Soccer, undoubtedly, will be a success at PGE Park, and we’re not begrudging Beavers/Timbers owner Merritt Paulson to a chance to hit a home run in a great soccer market.
But Paulson failed to come through on the second half of this financial equation: find a new home for the Beavers. And time is running out. There simply are no alternative venues — small college ballparks or whatnot — in Portland suitable for the Beavers. So the team will be relocated in 2011.
We continue to hear that Tucson is the most likely destination for the Bevos, at least in the short term: Tucson Electric Park is a suitable home, it’s close enough to parent San Diego’s extended spring-training camp in Peoria, and the facility is open.
Once you move past Tucson, the likely destinations for the Beavers are a matter of slim pickins. El Paso, where an ownership group expressed interest in buying the Beavers, has faded from view, as it became apparent there was little civic interest in building a new ballpark at AAA standards. Sugar Land, Texas passed on a chance to land the Beavers and instead with indy ball after territorial objections from the Houston Astros. A new ballpark at Cal State San Marcos, proposed by the San Diego Padres, seems to have lost a lot of steam after some market research and a more realistic assessment of the prospects of raising at least $35 million for a new college/Beavers ballpark, especially with the state out of money. (Indeed, the thinking is that San Marcos is much more an A market than a AAA market.) These options, so promising months ago, are all diminished as economic realities set in.
Paulson sounds like he’s ready to sell the Beavers and let someone else solve the problem.
We have a solution: Boise. When you start looking at markets in the Pacific Coast League footprint and examine the possibilities, Boise does rise above the competition. It’s now a midsize market with a thriving corporate environment, a ballpark that could serve as a short-term home for the Bevos, and a city government that’s already floated the idea of a new downtown ballpark in recent years. True, it’s not huge — with 474,900 adults 18+, it’s the #100 U.S. radio market and around the same size as Des Moines and Colorado Springs, while being larger than Reno — but it just smacks of a smaller market where other PCL teams thrive. It’s got a major airport with major service. Weather could be an issue, but it’s really the only one we can see. A smart businessman certainly would be poised to explore the move of a Triple-A team to a growing community that would see the move up as validation.
“The team leaving is certainly not the death knell for baseball in Portland,” Paulson told Fortune. “Triple-A baseball will try to come back, and hopefully Portland will realize what it’s lost.” Given the rather bad luck Portland has had with pro baseball this decade and the total lack of any substantive discussions about a new ballpark in the city, we’re not optimistic.
FROM THE MAILBAG: One reader suggests that Telus Field, currently home to an independent Golden Baseball League team, would be a better destination for the Beavers. Could be; Edmonton is actually doing well financially, and the ballpark is close to Triple-A ready. We hear some within MiLB are not too thrilled with Canada — demographically, the place to be is Vancouver, not Edmonton — but that may change if an actual proposal hits a desk.
RELATED STORIES: Could bidding war erupt for Bevos?; Portland Bevos update: Tucson-bound?; Come 2011, where will Beavers play?; Paulson finalizes deal for PGE Park soccer conversion; whither the Bevos?; Paulson withdraws bid for Bevos ballpark in Beaverton; Decision on Bevos ballpark could go to Beaverton voters; Beaverton, Bevos reach agreement on new ballpark sans site; Land woes could kill Bevos ballpark in Beaverton; Picketers greet pro-Beavers rally in Beaverton; Landowners not thrilled with Beaverton Bevos ballpark plan; Bevos eye Beaverton for new ballpark site; Paulson withdraws request for Bevos ballpark in Lents; Portland to move ahead with soccer renovation, put off plans for Bevos ballpark; Thursday vote could determine Bevos ballpark fate; New Beavers ballpark lacks support on City Council; Bevos, city close to final funding proposal for new ballpark; Rose Quarter location officially off the table for new Bevos ballpark; Bevos ballpark plans back up in the air — and maybe doomed; Portland ballpark vote delayed as mayor adjusts site, financial plans; New Beavers ballpark wouldn’t happen until 2012 — at the earliest; Cost of Portland redevelopment mushrooms to almost $300 million; Crunching the numbers on a new Bevos ballpark; Portland proposes tearing down Memorial Coliseum for new Bevos ballpark; Portland City Council votes to move ahead with new Bevos ballpark — but takes $15 million from the equation; Paulson agrees to Portland’s financial demands; still may not be enough; Bevos ballpark plan runs into serious financial obstacles; Portland task force gives preliminary approval to new Bevos ballpark — with plenty of conditions; Portland ballpark discussion shifts to Rose Quarter; Decision on new Bevos ballpark location delayed;Will new ballpark fly in Lents?
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