Portland has long been a baseball town. Many teams have come and gone – including a team in the old Negro Baseball League and the totally unconventional Portland Mavericks – but up until now Major League Baseball has passed the Rose City by.
Now, Portland – said by some to be the 25th largest metropolitan area in the country – is cited as the largest community in the United States not to have a Major League Baseball team. And a group of local investors and enthusiasts are looking to change that.
Nathan Nayman, a certified mediator for decades involved in public service projects in the San Francisco Bay Area, has moved to Portland and is now part of the "Portland Diamond Project", which is making surprising progress in bringing major league baseball here. He spoke to Southeast Portland Rotary in Westmoreland on Monday, March 2nd, to give an update on their progress.
Nayman reminded the group that Satchel Paige and Joe DiMaggio were among the many great ballplayers who have played in Portland; and the totally unaffiliated Portland Mavericks drew crowds in excess of 15,000 for baseball games at Civic Stadium (even as they were being locally telecast!) in the latter 1970's. And, he reminded, an MLB franchise here could mean many jobs, both temporary and permanent, and an economic boost throughout the metro area.
The Diamond Project has been talking productively for some time with the Port of Portland about a location for a stadium, although other spots are not ruled out – one that's mentioned is the Lloyd Center area – although the Port location would be larger and would involve negotiations with only one property owner. It would require better options for getting to the ballpark, and the Diamond Project is in talks with TriMet about that too.
The planned stadium would seat approximately 30,000. And, at least two existing teams, perhaps three, are actively considering a move to a new city. MLB itself is planning at least two expansion teams, as well. Nayman said that "our timeline is two to five years."
When asked what impact an MLB team in Portland might have on the minor league Hillsboro Hops and the "college summer league" Portland Pickles in Lents, he replied that both teams are very supportive, and believe they would benefit from it – as, he added, do the minor league Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, currently threatened with the loss of their Major League affiliation, despite excellent attendance and community involvement. He said the Trail Blazers and Timbers are supportive of the idea, too.
For more on the Portland Diamond Project, and to sign the petition showing public support by the people of Portland for bringing a major league baseball team here, go online – www.portlanddiamondproject.com
For information on the service-oriented Southeast Portland Rotary Club, whose meetings are always open to the public and are accompanied by an excellent buffet lunch, go online – www.SoutheastPortlandRotary.com
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