We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Ballpark Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #7: Portland Diamond Project unveils a new MLB ballpark proposal.
Speculation of Portland as a potential market for a relocating or expansion MLB franchise has lingered for years, but the Portland Diamond Project seemingly strengthened the city’s case in 2018. The group unveiled plans last month for a new ballpark and surrounding development at the Port of Portland’s 45-acre Terminal 2 property, showing a vision for how a ballpark in the Oregon city could come together.
Portland Diamond Project is backed by a contingent that includes retired Nike executive Craig Cheek, along with former Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) announcer Mike Barrett and former Oregon state senator Jason Atkinson. Seattle Seahawks quarterback and former Colorado Rockies farmhand Russell Wilson, along with his wife, the singer and entertainer Ciara, are also investing in the effort. The group spent much of 2018 laying the groundwork for a new Portland ballpark and team, announcing its interest in several sites earlier this year. However, with the Portland Public Schools’ headquarters location–located near the Moda Center–and the Esco Industrial site, which was once the location of Vaughn Street Park (former home of the minor-league Portland Beavers), both falling through, the Port’s property became the leading option.
The vision for a new ballpark in Portland calls for the waterfront facility to be surrounded by mixed-use development that includes housing, retail, office space and more. It would also come with a unique transportation plan that includes the use of trams, reflecting what could be the future in access to MLB facilities.
By unveiling the ballpark proposal, Portland Diamond Project provided an idea of how MLB could be lured to the city, but several issues will have to be resolved. Port, city, and Portland Diamond Project officials need to discuss the parameters of the deal, as well as whether public funds are available for infrastructure in a project that calls for a privately financed ballpark.
Beyond the issues at the local level, there are uncertainties as to how Portland would obtain a team. The Oakland A’s are working on a new ballpark plan at Oakland’s Howard Terminal, while the Tampa Bay Rays are locked into a lease at Tropicana Field that runs through 2027 now that they have scrapped their ballpark proposal in Tampa’s Ybor City. (Even if the lease were not an issue, the Rays have not indicated a desire to move and relocating to Portland would trigger drastic realignment.) Those factors could leave expansion as Portland’s best option, but MLB has not announced plans to jump to 32 teams.
There are still many uncertainties regarding the potential for MLB in Portland, but 2018 was undoubtedly a year in which the city’s profile was raised by an intriguing ballpark plan.
Rendering courtesy Portland Diamond Project.
Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date: