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The “move the A’s to Portland” drum continues to beat

Apr 10, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Portland

Almost all the beating is coming from Lynn Lashbrook, president of Sports Management Worldwide and the primary backer for the aborted effort to move the Expos to Portland in 2003. But it is beating. Here’s a story about Lashbrook’s efforts and estimates regarding the cost and logistics of a ballpark. Here’s an interesting sidebar about how the A’s (or whoever) could theoretically play in the Hillsboro Hops’ minor league park temporarily while a stadium is built.

That’s all good — Lashbrook is doing a lot to answer the inevitable “how it might work” questions — but the biggest issue is still unaddressed: who pays for a ballpark and who owns the team.

The team ownership issue is key, because it’s highly unlikely that either the current owners of the A’s or Rays would commit to any sort of massive self-financed stadium project in a new city. And that’s before you take into account the fact that neither have expressed a desire to sell. But, say they do: someone has to buy the A’s or the Rays for some amount north of $500 million and south of a billion, and that same someone would have to pony up hundreds of millions for a stadium. All with no promise of the kind of TV money the Dodgers received after their $2 billion sale. Because Portland may want baseball, but they only have so many people to broadcast it to.

So it would take a sports-crazed billionaire, really. And yes, Portland has one. Maybe two. But neither have expressed much interest in getting into the baseball business. Maybe that changes — now would not be the best time for them to go public with their great interest in doing so — but until it does, baseball in Portland seems more like a pipe dream than a reality.

  1. renaado - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Go for it!

    • clydeserra - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      protland is a great town, but no. not for baseball.

      • renaado - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        We won’t know unless we try right?

  2. 18thstreet - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    Until Rob Neyer thinks it can happens, I won’t believe it.

  3. shawnuel - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    I seriously doubt Allen will own another pro sports team in Portland. He is a Seattle guy who would trade his stakes in the Blazers for a chance at resurrecting Pro Basketball in Seattle in a heartbeat, if he legally could.. Knight could fit the bill, though. As a Mariner fan, I like the San Jose idea, myself.

    • theoriginaldonald - Apr 10, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      He had the chance……and he let the Sonics move to OKC.

  4. mkd - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    All the years I lived in Portland I just never got the sense that there was any clamoring for baseball. Hell, this is a city that kicked out its AAA team a few years ago and faced almost zero backlash. Portland is Blazers/Timbers country and they seem pretty damn happy about it.

    • renaado - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Timbers?……….. I can’t believe it, unless European population there is high.

      • mkd - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        Believe it

        Portland and Seattle have both embraced soccer to kind of mind blowing proportions.

      • mkd - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        So that link didn’t work at all. Just do a google image search for Timbers Army. It’s crazy.

      • renaado - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        Jesus Christ… Are we still living in the same world LoL?

      • jcmeyer10 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        Look up Timbers or Whitecaps or SOunders and Tifo. That should say it all.

      • racksie - Apr 10, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        Having lived in Portland for 5 years, I can promise you it is more than the European population that is “high”.

      • Greg Weber - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        Clearly you are not a Portland resident.

      • renaado - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:45 PM

        Clearly i’m not from Portland nor from the United States, I am from the Philippines who has a love for Baseball in a basketball country.

    • rbj1 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      Yeah, I lived in Portland from 90-93. The Beavers never seemed to be that popular. People were more into biking or hiking or kayaking than watching a ballgame.

    • jwbiii - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      It wasn’t the city as much as the owner, Merritt Paulson. If the name sounds familiar, he’s the son of Henry Paulson, GWBush’s Secretary of the Treasury. Paulson was given the opportunity to buy an MSL expansion franchise but the MSL did not want to play in a multi-use stadium. So Paulson got the city to renovate the stadium to a soccer/football only configuration at a cost of $31m, sold the Beavers to then-Padres’ owner Jeff Moorad, and Portland has an MSL team.

      As 18thstreet commented, Neyer doesn’t think Portland is a viable MLB city and neither does fellow Portlander (Portlandian?) Maury Brown. Brown’s BizOfBaseball.com site seems to be down so I can’t link to his opinion on the subject. (Dammit, Maury, you’re my reference for CBAs, JDAs, and drug suspensions!)

  5. El Pollo Loco - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    Sacramento or Salt Lake City would be better options

  6. tfilarski - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    Nashville!

  7. miguelcairo - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Portland Maine?

    • cohnjusack - Apr 10, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      Portland Ontario?

    • DJ MC - Apr 10, 2014 at 7:09 PM

      “Pop quiz, hot shot. Portland: Maine or Oregon?”

  8. willclarkgameface - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    Selig continues to screw this situation up. The A’s have been in Oakland a long time now, have had some pretty decent success (4 championships in 46 years), and certainly have a fan base. I won’t comment on how polite that fan base is (or isn’t) because that’s another discussion for another day.

    I digress.

    Selig needs to fix this. He’s the only one that can and he’s just letting the Giants and A’s duke it out on their own. it’s like water torture for A’s fans. Quit spraying them in the face with the water bottle and either fix the damn ball park they currently use (which is a CLASS A DUMP) or let them move to San Jose. Done.

    Portlandia would be cool I suppose, but I think people are really forgetting that there is a ball club up in that north west corridor already that most people in the US don’t care about. Why have 2?

    FIX IT SELIG!

    • tfilarski - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      it is just an inherent problem being on the pacific time zone

    • florida76 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      I’m not an A’s fan, but four WS titles in just 46 years is highly successful. That’s double San Francisco’s output, and the Giants have been in SF longer. Atlanta’s only won once, and Oakland has more WS titles than the Cubs, Indians, and White Sox(clubs who have existed for much longer periods of time).

      We also can’t forget the three straight crowns in the 70s, a tremendous achievement.

      • Wesley Clark - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        Wait. So you are telling me that San Francisco had a major league baseball team before 2010? Tell that to their “fans”. I kid, I kid….but yeah, their bandwagon fans are the worst.

      • tablescrappy - Apr 10, 2014 at 7:03 PM

        The Oakland A’s have always fielded more successful teams than the giants. More world titles, more league championships, more division titles, more playoff appearances, and a better head-to-head record against sf in both spring and regular season games. Took them ten fewer years in the Bay Area to do it, too.

    • renaado - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      I can understand the move though cause if a team wants to win a championship they need the money and where does that money come from? The fans attending the games, TV revenue and other sorts of merchandise related to it, not to mention Ballplayers also plays for the fans not just for themselves or a stadium always filled with empty seats. So a move is certainly a good option not just for attracting a new fan base but also a benefit for the team to taste something new.

      • clydeserra - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:51 PM

        building a stadium with your money means less for a championship team, unless you hit the lotto with 3 draft choices panning out and the economy humming when your stadium opens

  9. florida76 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    The death of the Oakland A’s would be a truly depressing situation. Whether Portland kept the nickname or not is irrelevant, Oakland would be finished, and there aren’t exactly many of their fans in that region.

    That’s M’s territory, which would set up a nice rivalry, but the Oakland A’s have their own tradition and identity, so one would hope a solution could be found to avoid relocation. This would be a sharp contrast to when the horrible Kansas City A’s died and were reborn as the Oakland A’s. KC hadn’t been around long in that city, and the history was a brief, losing identity.

    • clydeserra - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      the A’s aren’t leaving oaklnad for the forseeable future

      • sportsfan18 - May 22, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        I can’t believe that stadium continues to host MLB and NFL games…

        So many should be so embarrassed about it yet they all sit on their hands and do nothing to actually resolve it…

  10. Wesley Clark - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Having lived in the Bay Area and been to games at O.co, or whatever they are calling it now, the A’s and their fans deserve better. The stadium is a dump and it really is a disservice to the A’s fans out there that actually attend the games. Would Portland be an ideal situation? No. San Jose would be but we are all waiting on Bud’s Super Double Secret Committee.

    The above poster is correct though, The Timbers Army is a totally legit crazy fan base. I live right outside Portland and would be stoked if a team relocated here. I just think it is highly unlikely. The population base might not be able to support a team and I never get the feeling that the city is clamoring for a team.

    • renaado - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      “THEY NEED A REAL PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM TO ROOT ON…” So the A’s are probably a certain fit here.

  11. convincedofthehex - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Why are you mentioning the Rays? They are locked in to their current stadium for over another decade. Behind the scenes there is a lot of effort being made for a new stadium here. The owners know a new stadium location combined with a generation of kids growing up as Rays fans will be a positive impact on future attendance. Not to mention the Rays are still very profitable despite current attendance issues, and that does not even include new local television rights that will go up significantly in a couple years. Totally irresponsible to throw the Rays name in to the relocation nonsense.

    • gbrim - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      As long as the Tampa area supports the team so poorly, it is not irresponsible to talk about relocation. Inaccurate to talk about it right now, perhaps, but not irresponsible.

  12. APBA Guy - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Wow, great to see so many comments about our little parochial issue :)

    The Mausoleum’s dumpiness is made all the worse by the proximity to one of America’s great ballparks in which the Giants play. As I’ve said before, when you are actually watching the game, the field is beautiful, the sky is almost always clear (Week 1 excepted), humidity is low, and the fans are terrific, whatever their numbers.

    It’s when you aren’t watching the games that the problems start, and that’s when the contrast is really noticeable. Since almost all of us who watch the A’s regularly have also been to AT & T, paying the A’s prices for half the experience is hard to swallow.

    As for moving to Portland, who knows? If Paul Allen or Phil Knight really, really wanted to, could they put together a plan for the buy, the stadium, etc? Sure, they could. But rich guys tend to talk about risk a lot more than they are willing to actually experience taking of said risk. They’ll be doing everything they can to assess and mitigate the risk of paying out roughly a billion versus the return of a baseball team in Portland.

    I don’t see it happening anytime soon, like within 5 years.

    • clydeserra - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      not to mention the recent news that the Warriors owner said he wanted to buy into the A’s and was rebuffed by the Fischers.

  13. greasestain - Apr 10, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    According to SF Giants ownership, Portland is part of the Giant territory.

  14. phluffyclouds - Apr 10, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    They should move to Charlotte instead.

  15. Robert - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:44 PM

    Straight A’s in Portland, every game would be sold out for years, as Portland will appreciate the A’s win or lose.

    Green and Gold is one of Portland’s favorite colors. The A’s won’t be bullied and mocked if they moved to Portland.

    Give us a chance.

  16. tablescrappy - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Drum continues to beat? Wouldn’t we be able to hear a beating drum? This is more like the occasional electric guitar squawk from a kid who wishes he could play guitar.

  17. presidentialpeter - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    The Portland Thinkers

  18. smnick - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Food for thought, bring the A’s back to Philly and ship the Phillies to Oakland…that’s one way to get rid of Rollins without him bellyaching!!!

  19. Robert - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Salt Lake is another great area, but the Angels are the farm team for the Salt Lake minor league club.

    Good sports town, Utes and Cougars and Jazz do well in attendance.

  20. don444 - May 30, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    The A’s to Portland? I doubt that all things considered.

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