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Portland hosts its last AAA game

Sep 7, 2010, 9:44 AM EDT

The Beavers haven’t always played baseball in Portland. Minor league baseball took a few years off in the 70s. The team that came back in 1978 later moved to Salt Lake City, occasioning another break in AAA ball before the latest incarnation showed up.  But those few bumps aside, there has been a Pacific Coast League edition of the Portland Beavers since 1903.

Not anymore, though, as the latest edition played its last game last night. The Beavers are losing their ballpark to Major League Soccer next season and will have to find a new home. Tucson is a possibility. So is Lake Elsinore, California. All we know for sure is that the Padres’ AAA team won’t be in Portland next season.

My first thought is to be irked by the fact that someone, somewhere thought that MLS was a better bet for Portland than baseball. My second thought is to scoff at anyone who brings up Portland as a possible landing spot for a relocating Major League Baseball team.  Both thoughts are all about emotion, not reason, however, because this move has very little to do with how much Portland loves baseball and everything to do with economics.

Sure, it would be great if Portland had found room for both the Beavers and the new MLS team, but stadium politics in Oregon have always been dicey, rendering this an either/or situation. Given the league’s relatively low overhead and straight revenue split, a Major League Soccer franchise can be pretty damn lucrative these days. If you had the choice between keeping a minor league baseball team in your park or, alternatively, kicking them out, renovating the place for soccer and getting an MLS team you’d do the latter every time. At least if you were interested in making money. That was Portland’s choice.

The prospect of a major league team would likely change the economics of it all. No, it would not likely be easier to get public money to build a ballpark for, say, the A’s or the Rays or someone that it would have been for the Beavers, but there’s way more money to be made in Major League Baseball than there is in AAA too, so it could probably inspire more private money (assuming Bud Selig and the Lords of Baseball drop their aversion to owner-financed stadiums).  The upshot: the Beavers fleeing has very little to do with Portland’s suitability as a major league city. It’s benefits and flaws remain much the same as they’ve always been.

But yeah, it does suck that there’s no baseball in Portland anymore. Because baseball is, you know, cool.

  1. Joe - Sep 7, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    Plus, it was a super-cool venue (if not the prettiest place around), and access from downtown couldn’t be easier.

  2. birdmancometh - Sep 7, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    Who will be the Padres AAA affiliate?

  3. Old Gator - Sep 7, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    Well, before yesterday the Padres had been their own AAA affiliate for about ten games. Who knows what happens tomorrow?
    A city that expels a baseball team and replaces it with a backandforthandbackandforthandbackandforthball team shouldn’t even think about a major league baseball team. What could be more boring than Succker? I knew that people were sleepless in Seattle but I didn’t realize they had trouble sinking into REMs in Portland too. A major league baseball team? Don’t make me laugh. They’d expel it too soon enough, ice over the stadium and bring in a major league curling team.

  4. Mr. Heyward - Sep 7, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Hey man, go easy on soccer. There’s some good stuff in that sport, which with a mild interest in it, makes the sport quite entertaining to spectators. Although, playing it was always more fun in my opinion.
    More to the point, I’m sure the Portlanders are sad to see the Beavers get away…

  5. APBA Guy - Sep 7, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    Several of us on this blog, myself included, have come to appreciate the EPL as a transitional sport during baseball’s offseason. The pace in the EPL is fast, athleticism is superb, and the off-field antics are amazing. It’s like Perez Hilton chose the personality attributes of the players (current contretemps: will Wayne Rooney play for England in the second Euro 2012 qualifier after being outed for serial cheating with a $ 1400/night hooker on wife Colleen during her pregnancy?). Anyway, all good fun and nothing like MLS, which is like maybe high A ball compared to the EPL.

  6. Drakos - Sep 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    The Beavers are just relocating, not ceasing to exist. The Padres are trying to work out a stadium deal for a AAA stadium in north San Diego County so that the Beavers will be closer to the big league team.

  7. Mr. Heyward - Sep 7, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    $1400 per night… wow. I hope she supplied a steak dinner, champagne and caviar along with the other (ahem) services provided. You see? Soccer isn’t boring!

  8. Mr. Heyward - Sep 7, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    Wait, wtf! Why am i Mr. Heyward again! I’m El Bravo dagnammit! brb

  9. Old Gator - Sep 7, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    That’s where all the two headed kingsnakes come from.

  10. nfieldr - Sep 7, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    Isn’t this the same franchise that used to be the Albuquerque Dukes back prior to something like 2001?

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