Portland, OR has long been a possible destination for a Major League Baseball franchise. In 2005, the city looked into bringing the Montreal Expos when that franchise was looking to move, but they were ultimately destined for Washington D.C.
According to a report from The Oregonian and Andrew Theen, two Portland area business people are looking into reviving the efforts to bring a team to the city.
Lynn Lashbrook, founder and president of Sports Management Worldwide, and architect Barry Smith — both long-time Portland residents – are trying to garner interest in building a 38,000 seat ballpark at the site of Veterans Memorial Coliseum, directly across from the Rose Garden – or Moda Center – where the Portland Trail Blazers play.
The Portland metro area consists of about 2.3 million residents — roughly the same size as Pittsburgh – or larger than Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City and Milwaukee, all of which are home to MLB franchises – according to the United States Census Bureau.
Planning is in its initial stages, and city officials have had lukewarm at-best interest in bringing a franchise to Portland, however according to the report and Lynn Lashbrook, “a 2003 financing plan to dedicate $150 million in income taxes generated by the franchise toward stadium construction is still available.”
Oakland and Tampa Bay have long-been speculated to be wanting to move, and/or get a new stadium built. Whether one of those two franchises decides to look into Portland, or MLB wants to expand again is most likely a longshot, but Portland is certainly an interesting proposition should either of those scenarios arise.
“Until Oakland and Tampa have solutions, whether they build a stadium or they move, Portland is still an option,” Lashbrook said. “I’ll go to my grave with that.”
Fan interest shouldn’t be a problem. The Trail Blazers previously held the record for consecutive sellouts in major sports with 814 consecutive — broken recently by the Boston Red Sox organization who ended up with 820 – and consistently rank towards the top in attendance in the NBA (minus a year or two in the infamous JailBlazer days), and the Portland Timbers MLS franchise consistently sells out as well.
Will this eventually happen for Portland? Probably not soon, but it is interesting to see the issue being brought back up. Now they just need an ownership group, money, stadium plans, political backing, and a plethora of other things – no easy task to say the least.