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Questions Surround Proposed Portland Ballpark Site as Deadline Looms

Portland Ballpark Rendering 4-11 (2)

With a key deadline approaching, questions are being raised about whether access and zoning concerns over the proposed Portland ballpark site can be addressed. 

Portland Diamond Project has been leading the push to bring Major League Baseball to the Oregon city, with a proposed ballpark at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 2 at the center of its effort. After being linked to other sites around Portland, the group unveiled a vision for a proposed ballpark and surrounding development at Terminal 2 in November

A due-diligence period has been unfolding since, but by the end of this month the Portland Diamond Project will have to make its first in a series of payments to maintain exclusive negotiating rights with the Port of Portland. Under those terms, the initial payment will be for $375,000, before going to $125,000 in each of the next three quarters, and then jumping to $187,000 quarterly for the next year.

Neither the Portland Diamond Project nor the Port of Portland are indicating that an alternative–such as an extension of the current due diligence period, or a change in preferred site for the project–is in the works ahead of the deadline, but city officials are concerned that too little work has been done to address access issues to the site. There are also worries over zoning, as rezoning Terminal 2 to accommodate the ballpark project might force city officials to designate new industrial land at another location. More from The Oregonian/Oregon Live:

Marshall Runkel, chief of staff for City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees the city’s Transportation Bureau, said there’s been little progress in addressing the challenge of getting thousands of fans to and from the games.

The site, northwest of the Fremont Bridge, has infrequent transit service and lies more than a mile from the nearest MAX line. It sits on a road that’s not built for a heavy influx of traffic.

“It still looks very difficult or impossible from a transportation standpoint to make Terminal 2 work,” Runkel said.

The terminal also sits on designated industrial land that, if rezoned, would put pressure on city planners to designate industrial land elsewhere. That would attract opposition from environmental groups.

Access to the ballpark and surrounding development figures to be one of the key sticking points in the planning process. Gondolas had been envisioned as one potential solution when the plans were first announced, but discussions about easing ease congestion to the site will have to take place if Terminal 2 continues to be targeted as the ballpark project’s site.

Founded by retired Nike executive Craig Cheek, the Portland Diamond Project group also features former Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) announcer Mike Barrett. Providing further backing is a long slate of investors headlined by Seattle Seahawks quarterback and former Colorado Rockies farmhand Russell Wilson, along with his wife, the singer and entertainer Ciara.

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