Discover more from Bald Faced Truth by John Canzano
Canzano: Portland poised for swing at MLB
Exclusive look at proposed ballpark district.
It turns out the Portland Diamond Project has been doing a lot more than making T-shirts.
It has been making plans.
Documents obtained this week by JohnCanzano.com pulled back the curtain on the plan to bring Major League Baseball to Portland. The entity behind the MLB-to-PDX effort is officially targeting two proposed stadium sites in Portland — Lloyd Center Mall and RedTail Golf Course.
Email exchanges between Portland city officials and Portland Diamond Project executives provide the framework. The sides are working toward a formal “letter of intent” that could give the MLB effort control of one or both properties. The Lloyd Center has long been rumored as a potential stadium site, but this is the first time the city-owned public golf course has been mentioned.
I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued and cautiously delighted. The Portland Diamond Project has been eerily quiet. I’ve fielded repeated questions in recent months about whether the MLB effort was stalled.
I still have questions about who will champion the project. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler? Oregon Governor Tina Kotek? I suppose the better question is which of those two politicians wants the credit should it happen?
Craig Cheek, the founder of the Portland Diamond Project, and his team have been in frequent communication with the city in recent months. JohnCanzano.com also obtained architectural renderings of the Lloyd Center ballpark, amphitheater and entertainment district shown to city leaders.
Cheek offered a written statement late Wednesday evening. He acknowledged the news would “catch the interest” of residents, fans and the business community. Cheek added: “We look forward to sharing more information when we’re further along in the process.”
Putting a 35,000-seat ballpark on the footprint of dying Lloyd Center Mall would be a massive revitalization undertaking for Portland. Nearby 4.5-acre Holladay Park would also become part of the district, per the documents.
I’ve wondered for years if leadership at City Hall had the vision and stomach to get behind an ambitious sports-fueled project. The correspondence I obtained this week included discussions about tax incentives, infrastructure commitments, and a variety of other tools that could be used to make the 42-acre Lloyd Center plan work.
Basically, the city appears prepared to take a swing.
RedTail Golf Course presents a larger and potentially more attractive stadium-district alternative. The 163-acre property located in Washington County was annexed from Beaverton in 2003 and currently serves as a public park and golf course.
Portland Diamond Project would need to buy out the remaining 19 years on a 40-year lease of Red Tail, LLC — the course driving range and golf shop. The city of Portland owns the 18-hole golf course.
Which site do you prefer?
Urban? Or suburban?
Decide for yourself.
It’s apparent that the Portland Diamond Project wants to have at least one of those properties under contract by the end of the year. City attorneys, Mayor Wheeler’s office and lawyers for the MLB-to-PDX effort have been in frequent contact on that front.
Said one involved source: “There are some big ideas in play.”
This piece is bound to cause some fretting and hand-wringing. It’s Portland. There will be people who say there are far more important things for City Hall to be addressing than baseball. You’ve still got houselessness, a drug crisis, and crime. Those things deserve attention. But why can’t that co-exist with an ambitious project that would create jobs, raise the city’s profile and show the world that Portland is serious about being a big-league town?
What does Portland want to be?
Many of us have asked that question over the last two decades. In the last three years, I’ve found myself thinking about it almost daily. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is eyeing expansion and most believe his league will add two franchises. Nashville is well positioned with its own MLB effort. Salt Lake City has its act together, too. It’s encouraging to see sophistication and depth in the conversations happening behind the scenes in Portland.
It makes me want to believe again.
I appreciate all who support, subscribe and share this independent endeavor. If you haven’t already — please consider subscribing or gifting a subscription to a family member or friend. You may also “donate” a subscription to someone on a fixed budget below.