The greater Portland area won’t go without baseball for too long, as the Yakima Bears (short season; Northwest League) and Clark County announced a plan to bring the team to a Vancouver, Washington ballpark as soon as 2012.
It’s no secret multiple teams and leagues were trying to figure out a way to get into Portland once the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) left PGE Park after the end of the 2010 season: Portland is just too large a market to go without pro baseball. (Depending on how you parse the numbers, Portland is either the largest or second-largest market in the United States without pro baseball; the competitor is Orlando.) With no appetite at all within the city of Portland to build a new ballpark and no other suitable facilities in the area, another municipality was needed as partner.
It’s also no secret Vancouver and Clark County has been interested in baseball, though previously it’s been at the summer-collegiate level. Yesterday officials there announced plans for a 3,500-seat, $23-million ballpark, and the Bears front office — which had been stymied in its attempts to find a local partner for a new ballpark — announced it would move the team if the ballpark was built. You’ve got to give K.L. Wombacher and the rest of the Bears front office credit: they worked for years on ballpark issues in Yakima, only to be turned away at almost every turn.
When the team moves is an issue. In theory, the ballpark could be ready to open as soon as next season, but that’s pushing it, and it could be we see some sort of two-year plan where the team can be there next season but the ballpark not totally completed until 2013. There’s been no relocation papers signed yet, so things are very much up in the air.
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