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Portland Ballpark Site Announcement Expected Thursday

Portland Diamond Project

The Oregonian/OregonLive is reporting that the Portland Diamond Project will announce a tentative deal for a ballpark site on Thursday, its latest step to bring MLB to the Oregon city.

The push to bring a Major League Baseball ballpark and team to Portland is being led by the Portland Diamond Project. That group includes former Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) announcer Mike Barrett, former Oregon state senator Jason Atkinson, and retired Nike executive Craig Cheek. Seattle Seahawks quarterback and former Colorado Rockies prospect Russell Wilson, along with his wife, the singer and entertainer Ciara, are also investing the effort.

Portland Diamond Project tweeted on Tuesday that it would make a ballpark site announcement by the end of the week, and it appears that that announcement will be made Thursday. Reports from earlier this year indicted that the Port of Portland’s Terminal 2 site in Northwest Portland was in play and, with some other reported candidates now off the table, could be announced Thursday as the group’s targeted site. Many factors remain unknown at this point, as the group has yet to officially disclose its preferred site and questions remain about how the total cost of a new ballpark project would be financed. More from The Oregonian/Oregon Live:

Still unclear is how the ownership group would pay for a site and its redevelopment. The group has named some investors — including Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Grammy Award winner Ciara, Wilson’s wife — and it would plan to tap up to $150 million in state-issued bonds that would be paid back with income taxes from team salaries. Retired Nike executive Craig Cheek, former state Sen. Jason Atkinson and former Trail Blazers announcer Mike Barrett are Portland Diamond Project’s managing partners.

But the project will likely need millions more not yet publicly accounted for to complete.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has previously expressed support for the group, saying a panel of experts had told him their plan is “for real,” but said the city wouldn’t provide a subsidy for the stadium or to attract a team. The management partners have said they’re not seeking public money beyond the bonds, which were approved by the Oregon Legislature in 2003 for a previous effort.

The expansive marine terminal is lightly used, but still occasionally handles large pieces of cargo that must be handled individually, like steel rail. It also serves as a base for Army Corps of Engineers river dredges that maintain shipping channels. It spans 50 acres in all.

A few other sites were publicly linked to the Portland Diamond Project’s efforts, but have fallen out of contention for various reasons. Among them was the Portland Public Schools headquarters site near the Trail Blazers’ Moda Center, but the group recently withdrew its $80 million offer to purchase the property. An Esco Industrial site–once home to a former venue for pro baseball in the city, Vaughn Street Park–was also in the mix, but was sold to a separate slate of developers earlier this year.

Thursday’s announcement could bring details surrounding the latest effort in Portland, which has long been speculated as a potential MLB home. However, the city’s path to a team remains uncertain. Expansion is unlikely to be seriously discussed by the league 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 (in fact, the A’s announced new Howard Terminal ballpark plans this week). The Los Angeles Angels recently raised questions about their future by opting out of their Angel Stadium lease, but there are no signs at this point that the team will look anywhere beyond the greater Los Angeles area for a long-term ballpark solution.

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