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View Full Version : Relocating A Team To Portland Makes Sense



Jpup
01-12-2007, 01:19 PM
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove06/columns/story?columnist=rogers_phil&id=2727901




By Phil Rogers
Special to ESPN.com

The idea of baseball in Portland, Ore., is new for a lot of people. But it has been a lifetime habit for Boston Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky, and he's 87 years old.

Pesky was born in 1919 and grew up following his hometown Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. He has spent most of his life on the opposite coast, but is intrigued by the movement to bring the Florida Marlins or another major league baseball franchise to Portland.

"What Portland always had was good fans,'' Pesky said in a 2006 interview. "I haven't been back in five years, and the growth has been phenomenal … Portland is bigger than more than a few other cities that host major league baseball. Why shouldn't Portland have a club? I think they should get a shot. I think Portland will have a team in three or four years.''

Then again, if the Marlins solve their stadium issues in Miami and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays find a way to become competitive, it could be another 34 years before MLB moves another one of its teams. That's how many seasons passed between the shifting of the Washington Senators to Arlington, Texas, and the move of the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C.

But whether it's by relocation or another as-yet-unforeseen round of expansion, history says the makeup of the MLB membership won't stay the same for too long. Since the Dodgers and Giants moved west in 1958, the sport hasn't gone longer than 16 years without adding or moving teams, averaging an expansion or relocation every eight years.

Look for Portland, a jewel of a city in the shadow of Mt. Hood and near Oregon's scenic coast, to be ready when the next movement comes.

It has already earmarked $150 million for a public-private stadium partnership -- financed in part by a highly creative plan diverting the income taxes of major league players and executives of Portland's new team to retire stadium bonds -- with seven potential stadium sites, including three along the Williamette River downtown. While that stadium is being built, the Beavers' PGE Park could be expanded to about 25,000 seats to accommodate a speedy transition for an existing team, like the Marlins.

Pesky is right about the size of the Portland area compared to some cities that have had MLB franchises for a long time.

"If you took the Pittsburgh stadium and put it in Portland, then Portland would be a stronger market than Pittsburgh,'' economist Andrew Zimbalist told The (Portland) Oregonian last year.

With a population of about 2 million, Portland ranks as the 24th largest metro area in the United States. That's ahead of Cincinnati (25), Kansas City (27) and Milwaukee (37) and right behind Pittsburgh (21), Denver (22) and Cleveland (23). Nielsen ranks the Portland market 23rd, up from 24th a year ago (it passed Buffalo), and way ahead of Kansas City (31), Milwaukee (33) and Cincinnati (34).

Perhaps the most appealing thing about the Portland market is that it currently counts the NBA's Trail Blazers as the only franchises from sports' four basic alphabet groups (NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB).

According to math by the Portland Baseball Group, only Los Angeles and New York have a higher ratio of population to major sports franchises. San Diego is the only bigger metro area that doesn't have at least three teams, and it has the big two in the NFL and MLB.

A Portland franchise would be positioned to receive civic and corporate support. Adidas, which has its 352,000-square foot headquarters in North Portland, has supported the push to bring an MLB franchise to the city. Nike, based in nearby Beaverton, might join the battle for naming rights to the new ballpark.

If the Marlins did wind up moving there, MLB could also realign in a way that makes more geographic sense.

Tampa Bay could move to the National League, where it might develop a rivalry with Atlanta, with Portland's team joining Seattle in the American League West. Texas could be shifted to the AL Central -- a change it was promised more than a decade ago -- and Detroit could move to the AL East. Nothing happens easily, or quickly, in MLB, but this makes sense.

Next in line

Las Vegas: Mayor Oscar Goodman has made the acquisition of a major league franchise a top priority, even bringing a group of showgirls to baseball's winter meetings. The reality lags behind the aggressive marketing, however. Some have a perception that Las Vegas is America's boomtown, but it's hardly Phoenix. It's 31st in the size of metro areas and 48th among television markets. None of the four major sports leagues have been willing to court scandal by moving into a city built on the back of gambling, and it doesn't seem likely baseball will be the first.

San Antonio: The Marlins seriously explored their options in the central Texas city last year, but city officials were turned down when they forced owner Jeffrey Loria to make a quick decision about a stadium offer. This was a major relief to the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, who weren't excited about a third franchise in their state. Mayor Phil Hardberger correctly points to the size of the San Antonio TV market (37th) as a major drawback for bringing a second big-league franchise to a city that is home to the NBA's Spurs.

Charlotte: Like Portland, Charlotte is on its way up. Its TV market ranks 27th, gaining a place in the latest rankings, and it is home to nine Fortune 500 companies. The Minnesota Twins flirted with a move to Charlotte in 1998. But saturation provides the same problem here as in Indianapolis, as the NFL and the NBA beat MLB to the market. A structure remains in place to build a 40,000 seat baseball stadium, but it could be a long time until one is needed.

Northern New Jersey: A third team in the New York/New Jersey market is an intriguing idea, and might be the best way for other franchises to slow the two powerful New York teams. But Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Mets owner Fred Wilpon would oppose any move to bring a team here at least as adamantly as Orioles owner Peter Angelos did the Expos' relocation to Washington, D.C., and no one has stepped forward to challenge the Yankees and Mets.

Orlando: In a dream world, you'd bulldoze Dolphin Stadium and Tropicana Field and merge Florida's two weak franchises into one, based in the middle of the state. Orlando's TV market is 20th, larger even than Portland, and Disney-based tourism would give an Orlando team some natural advantages. The Devil Rays are playing a regular-season series at Disney World this season, but it's hard to see how MLB unravels its Florida mess to land in the Magic Kingdom.

Norfolk, Va.: Briefly floated as an option for the Expos when the Washington bid was in turmoil, city officials have had talks with the Marlins. Few take it seriously.

Will M
01-12-2007, 01:23 PM
if MLB really wanted to do something cool and very 21rst century they would put a team in Tokyo

Jpup
01-12-2007, 01:25 PM
if MLB really wanted to do something cool and very 21rst century they would put a team in Tokyo

That would be terrible. Who would they play? The travel would be nuts.

savafan
01-12-2007, 01:27 PM
That would be terrible. Who would they play? The travel would be nuts.

Technically, it's not that far away for the teams on the West Coast...:p:

KronoRed
01-12-2007, 01:29 PM
The North West deserves NL baseball.

Chip R
01-12-2007, 01:31 PM
I don't think there are very many baseball fans in Portland. :p:

Jpup
01-12-2007, 01:31 PM
I don't know if it would be viable, but I want to see a team in Nashville. That will probably never happen though.

Heath
01-12-2007, 01:42 PM
Ok, let's see -

Up next on this hit parade -

woy
pedro
gm
oregonred
Doc. Scott

Gentlemen, start your engines.

(BTW - I'd agree that Portland is more viable than Pittsburgh as a baseball market. But you gotta call them the Beavers.)

Will M
01-12-2007, 01:42 PM
That would be terrible. Who would they play? The travel would be nuts.

So the travel would be bad. It could be done.

Having a team in Tokyo would be great for baseball. Lets face it, baseball is losing fans to other sports here in America. Yet baseball is very popular in Japan. Japan despite its economic problems the last 15 years is still one of the biggest economies in the world. It could easily support a team and draw WAY more fans than most teams in small markets here in the US.

Also, Mexico city should have a team. Despite Mexico overall being a 2nd world country Mexico city is in fact HUGE. There would be enough fans.

flyer85
01-12-2007, 01:44 PM
moving a FLorida team to Orlando makes a lot of sense. They could send the other FLorida team to Portland.

vaticanplum
01-12-2007, 01:45 PM
Also, Mexico city should have a team. Despite Mexico overall being a 2nd world country Mexico city is in fact HUGE. There would be enough fans.

I am down with baseball in a Mexican metropolis. It's a great idea. I know it could get messy from a visa/legal/tax standpoint which is probably a major reason it hasn't been done (plus it's a new law that all Americans must use passports to enter Canada and Mexico), but not undoable, I would think.

Puerto Rico could stand to have a team as well.

Jpup
01-12-2007, 01:49 PM
I am down with baseball in a Mexican metropolis. It's a great idea. I know it could get messy from a visa/legal/tax standpoint which is probably a major reason it hasn't been done (plus it's a new law that all Americans must use passports to enter Canada and Mexico), but not undoable, I would think.

Puerto Rico could stand to have a team as well.

poor attendance in Puerto Rico killed that chance for them.

Jpup
01-12-2007, 01:49 PM
So the travel would be bad. It could be done.

Having a team in Tokyo would be great for baseball. Lets face it, baseball is losing fans to other sports here in America. Yet baseball is very popular in Japan. Japan despite its economic problems the last 15 years is still one of the biggest economies in the world. It could easily support a team and draw WAY more fans than most teams in small markets here in the US.

Also, Mexico city should have a team. Despite Mexico overall being a 2nd world country Mexico city is in fact HUGE. There would be enough fans.

You think that you are going to get guys to go play in Tokyo all summer?

westofyou
01-12-2007, 01:55 PM
In this corner

http://www.portlandbaseballgroup.com/

And in this corner

http://www.hotpepper.com/majorleague/pix/sticker_full.gif

pedro
01-12-2007, 01:58 PM
I have doubts that the existing minor league stadium could be used for MLB, even on a temporary basis.

Chip R
01-12-2007, 02:21 PM
I am down with baseball in a Mexican metropolis. It's a great idea. I know it could get messy from a visa/legal/tax standpoint which is probably a major reason it hasn't been done (plus it's a new law that all Americans must use passports to enter Canada and Mexico), but not undoable, I would think.

Puerto Rico could stand to have a team as well.


Mexico City has a higher altitude than Denver. It'd also be an economic nightmare.

BrooklynRedz
01-12-2007, 03:31 PM
Lets face it, baseball is losing fans to other sports here in America.

Based on what metrics?

RANDY IN INDY
01-12-2007, 04:02 PM
Charlotte, NC. Bring it on.

Doc. Scott
01-12-2007, 04:04 PM
I don't think there are very many baseball fans in Portland. :p:

Actually, this is fairly true. The vast majority of the baseball fans here are the transplants; the Oregon natives are generally not big fans of team sports. Some of the over-35 crowd might follow the Blazers, but that's more out of habit (as the Blazers used to be good way back when a la the Big Red Machine or something). No one seems to really bother following the Mariners, either, even though we get their broadcasts. I could see fans being won over by baseball, but the team would have to be well-run and do things "right" (i.e. local-friendly and not a pack of mercs). Fans completely turned their back on the "Jail Blazer" incarnation of that club and now they're rebuilding to some of the worst attendance in the NBA while Paul Allen thinks about selling the team. (If he does that, chances are very significant the franchise could move. It's seemingly a lot easier for an NBA franchise to move.)

Every single time I've ever been to PGE Park to watch the Beavers play (and I usually went on the cheap beer nights that you would think would draw well), the park hasn't sold more than maybe 6,000 or 7,000 tickets. (The only game I've seen draw well was a Mariners exhibition that sold the park out last March.) That stadium is about eight blocks from my downtown apartment- and I can tell you quite emphatically that any major-league baseball played there is going to have to be on an extremely temporary basis. It holds maybe fifteen thousand as it is, wedged right into the streets just west of downtown between the light rail line and a gigantic health club. It wouldn't even be half the caliber of something like RFK Stadium. PGE Park's location would be excellent for a hypothetical new ballpark, as it's right on the rail line, centrally located, and near entertainment, but I don't know how they'd get enough building space without knocking something down. (And on the other side of the park from the gigantic health club is a not-yet-completed fancy condo complex.)

WOY can go into more detail on the history of Portland baseball in the PCL and such, but all the glory days were a good fifty years ago or more. Without actually looking it up, I'm pretty sure that the current incarnation of the PCL club here is a new thing, because there were several decades in the second half of the 20th century with no team.

Despite all of this negativity, it's simply a matter of time for MLB and Portland. The TV market is larger than one might think because it covers most of the state as well as southern Washington; the metro area is very comparable in size and population to Cleveland (i.e. bigger than Cincinnati but smaller than Columbus). But the city's current mayor (and likely his successors) are adamantly against using any public tax dollars to fund sports stadiums, so any pro-MLB group needs every bit of creativity it can get.

I think Charlotte and the NY/NJ ideas are probably likely to happen first. And they probably should. Both of those markets might be "hungrier". But I'd bet you'll see a Portland team in the next 10-15 years.

johngalt
01-12-2007, 04:29 PM
You think that you are going to get guys to go play in Tokyo all summer?

Yeah, honestly, I don't see a whole lot of free agents looking at playing in Japan as an attractive option.

KronoRed
01-12-2007, 04:34 PM
Charlotte, NC. Bring it on.

Nah, just a bunch of Braves fans :evil:

gm
01-12-2007, 05:48 PM
"Tampa Bay could move to the National League, where it might develop a rivalry with Atlanta, with Portland's team joining Seattle in the American League West"

Ack!

(what Doc Scott said)

I've been hearing that "3-4 years away..." mantra for 6-8 years...

Generally speaking, Oregonians are participators in summer outdoor activities, as opposed to "spectators"

RANDY IN INDY
01-12-2007, 05:49 PM
Not as much as you might think. There isn't much love for the city of Atlanta here, and give Charlotte a baseball team in the NL and watch the rivalry heat up. Definitely no love loss between the Panthers and Falcons, and Charlotte seems to have a chip on its shoulder, as a city, when it comes to hearing about Atlanta.

Doc. Scott
01-12-2007, 05:56 PM
"Tampa Bay could move to the National League, where it might develop a rivalry with Atlanta, with Portland's team joining Seattle in the American League West"

Ack!

(what Doc Scott said)

I've been hearing that "3-4 years away..." mantra for 6-8 years...

Generally speaking, Oregonians are participators in summer outdoor activities, as opposed to "spectators"

Yep, that last line is what I was trying to say and sort of failed to.

I'm sure all of us NL fans would prefer the MLBeavs to be in the NL (I know I personally would even support the dumping of the designated hitter altogether), but I don't really think the larger PDX fanbase will distinguish or care.

Heath
01-12-2007, 09:08 PM
Not as much as you might think. There isn't much love for the city of Atlanta here, and give Charlotte a baseball team in the NL and watch the rivalry heat up. Definitely no love loss between the Panthers and Falcons, and Charlotte seems to have a chip on its shoulder, as a city, when it comes to hearing about Atlanta.

I second this - after living in SC for a few years - no doubt there is a healthy rivalry between Charlotte and Atlanta.

Charlotte's just got to get a ballpark in its' city, not in another state. I guess it's no worse if the Reds played in Covington or Newport.

RANDY IN INDY
01-12-2007, 09:20 PM
There are heated talks about a minor league ballpark, downtown. I don't think they are serious at this point about trying to acquire a major league franchise. The Knights moving downtown is probably going to happen soon.

IslandRed
01-12-2007, 09:50 PM
From the article:


If the Marlins did wind up moving there, MLB could also realign in a way that makes more geographic sense.

Tampa Bay could move to the National League, where it might develop a rivalry with Atlanta, with Portland's team joining Seattle in the American League West. Texas could be shifted to the AL Central -- a change it was promised more than a decade ago -- and Detroit could move to the AL East. Nothing happens easily, or quickly, in MLB, but this makes sense.

Under the current system, who's going to voluntarily move into a division where they have to deal with the Yankees and Red Sox?

The humane thing to do, given how hard it is to compete with those two, would be to make the AL East the four-team division. Have Tampa Bay take Florida's place in the NL East and the Marlins-turned-Portland-Whatevers go to the AL West. It doesn't solve Texas' time-zone issues but if they've lived with it this long, oh well.

VR
01-12-2007, 10:26 PM
Anything the city is involved with will most likely end in a very bad trainwreck.
If it's anything like the way they do education....they'll have the highest payroll and the worst record. It's uncanny.

I'm involved on a number of advisory committees centered around urban renewal with the Portland Development Commission...and the baseball faction is just ahead of GWBush on the most liked list.

The only way it gets going is to have a regional push. Metro Portland says bleh.

jnwohio
01-12-2007, 11:29 PM
.......(plus it's a new law that all Americans must use passports to enter Canada and Mexico).......

I believe it it is actually kind of the other way around. Canada and Mexico don't plan on changing the requirements for USA citizens entering their country but the USA is about to begin requiring it's own citizens to have passports to get back in. This goes into force for people arriving by sea or air supposedly within the next 2 weeks. They have put off for a while longer implementing it for ground crossings because there are thousands and maybe even hundreds of thousands of folks who cross regularly on business or to vist family (imagine Detroit/ Windsor for example or all the truckers who make international runs) and who don't have passports as of yet.

However, getting a passport isn't that big of a deal. You need a certified copy of your birth certificate (i.e one with an imprinted government seal). They cost about $20 if you need to get one. Plus you'll also need a mug shot photo (available at Walgreens, CVS etc for around $10). Either download the application or pick one up at most any post office. Fill out the application and take it (along with the BC and mug shot) to a post office that processes them. Turn in your application, give them I believe it is $85, and in about 6 weeks you should receive a passport in the mail (good for 10 years).

Reds Nd2
01-13-2007, 02:29 AM
Technically, it's not that far away for the teams on the West Coast...:p:
I really look forward to the 5:10 AM East Coast start times.

Charlotte, NC. Bring it on.
Oh yea'! I would be down with that. An NL Central team would be really sweet.

Yachtzee
01-13-2007, 12:26 PM
From the article:



Under the current system, who's going to voluntarily move into a division where they have to deal with the Yankees and Red Sox?

The humane thing to do, given how hard it is to compete with those two, would be to make the AL East the four-team division. Have Tampa Bay take Florida's place in the NL East and the Marlins-turned-Portland-Whatevers go to the AL West. It doesn't solve Texas' time-zone issues but if they've lived with it this long, oh well.

What I want to know is, why Detroit to the AL East and not Cleveland? Cleveland is farther east than Detroit and the fans already have a strong dislike for the Yankees.

As far as making the AL East the four-team division, I don't think you could do that with the current unbalanced schedule format. It would mean more games against the Yankees and Red Sox for the Blue Jays and Orioles, and it would subject the rest of the country to more Red Sox/Yankees games on ESPN. If I'm Toronto or Baltimore, I'd prefer more teams in the division rather than less.