Wilson has been active both in baseball and post-career business efforts in recent months, making appearances at New York Yankees spring-training workouts and backing an effort by developer Chris Hansen to bring a new arena to the SoDo area of Seattle. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles as a high-school player in 2007, and then drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2010 after a football/baseball career at North Carolina State. He topped out at Low-A ball wth the Asheville Tourists (Low A; Sally League) before a one-year stint as University of Wisconsin QB led to an NFL career.
The arena effort seems be withering on the vine, but that’s not stopping Wilson from looking at other potential sports-related investments.
Portland Diamond Project backers include retired Nike executive Craig Cheek, former Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) announcer Mike Barrett, and former Oregon lawmaker Jason Atkinson. The connection for Wilson: Nike, with whom Wilson signed a contract upon entering the NFL.
“We believe Portland is the next great Major League Baseball city, and that’s why Ciara and I are excited to announce we are a part of the Portland Diamond Project,” Russell Wilson said in a press release. “It is time for MLB in Portland.”
“Athletics has always been important to me. As a young girl growing up in Atlanta, I was a tomboy who ran track and worked the hot dog stand at Turner Field,” Ciara said in a press release. “I am excited about the opportunity to bring the comradery of the game to the city of Portland. I want to see this vision come to life and empower more women owners in major sports franchises.”
“Having Russell and Ciara sign on as owners and investors in PDP is game-changing, and has elevated our campaign significantly,” PDP founder and president Craig Cheek said. “I got to know Russell and Ciara when we signed Russell to his Nike endorsement deal. I saw firsthand their passion, pursuit of excellence and impact they bring to every endeavor. We know they will bring that same energy, sense of legacy and entrepreneurialism to the Portland Diamond Project.”
While Portland has been mentioned off and on over the years as a possible home for an MLB club, it remains to be seen how the city would land a team. Expansion is unlikely to be seriously discussed by the MLB until the ballpark searches of the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays are settled, and both teams are working to build new facilities in their current markets. It is possible that one of or both of those teams will come up short in their current locales, but for now it does not seem that either team is in the mix for a relocation.
RELATED STORIES: Terminal Two Enters Portland MLB Ballpark Site Mix; Portland Group Continuing MLB Push; Baseball Back at Vaughn Street? Portland MLB Backers Pitch Two Sites; More Details Emerge on Portland MLB Group; Report: Portland MLB Pitch Gathering Momentum; Manfred: Yeah, Why Not Portland