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Milwaukie to study economic impact of summer-collegiate ball

West Coast LeagueThe Milwaukie (Ore.) City Council voted to spend $5,000 on updated economic studies to determine the impact of a summer-collegiate team team at a new ballpark — but declined to start negotiating with the West Coast League.

The city had been negotiating with the short-season Northwest League about the possible move of a franchise, but time expired on a city-imposed deadline when the league said it could not commit a team by the end of July. City officials then decided to look at a West Coast League team replacing the pro squad.

The 3-2 vote last night directs city staff to scale back the $25-million ballpark proposal and formulate the economic impact of a WCL team, while pointedly declining to enter into negotiations with the league for a team. The rationale: if the team can’t make a significant economic impact, then the city will not move forward with the ballpark project. The rationale for spending $25 million on a ballpark was to attract a team that would generate $7.3 million in economic impact, but a summer-collegiate team won’t come near that — especially a summer-collegiate team playing in the same metro area as a pro team. (For some reason the two just don’t mix; summer-collegiate teams in Durham and Nashville failed when competing with pro teams. Calgary would seem to be the exception, but the well-organized Okotoks Dawgs didn’t exactly face much competition from the North American League.) In the end, we don’t see the numbers working out for a new ballpark costing more than $3 million or $4 million, given the limited economic impact of summer-collegiate ball.

In any case, we’re talking about an extremely low-risk look at salvaging the work done on a large project. 

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