Is Portland a Good Baseball Town?

Carson Cistulli · July 22, 2010 at 1:30 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The summer of 2010 marks the departure of two things from Portland, Oregon. Well, actually, the first isn’t really a thing — in fact, it’s me, Carson Cistulli. This Monday, the wife and I leave Portland in a Penske-brand truck bound for Madison, Wisconsin of America’s Middle West, where we plan to gorge ourselves on a variety of cheese-filled and -covered foodstuffs.

The other departure will be that of the Triple-A Portland Beavers — and of affiliated baseball, in general. Sadly, the Beavers leave Portland with only slightly more fanfare than yours truly. That’s damning with the very faintest of praise, I assure you.

On the eve of these twin flights, I thought I might attempt to answer a question upon which I’ve meditated idly in my three or so years here in the Rose City — a question that might also be of some interest to USS Mariner readers.

The question is this: Is Portland a good baseball town?

The answer, predictably, is “I don’t know.” But there are at least some considerations to, uh, consider. Here they are:

Portland doesn’t feel like a baseball town.

Here are some places I’ve either lived and/or spent significant time, in chronological-ish order: New England (assorted towns); New York City; Seattle, Washington; Missoula, Montana; Chicago, Illinois; Portland, Oregon. With the exception of Missoula, which is a town populated entirely by eco-jocks and, you know, Montanans, Portland is the least baseball-y feeling of the bunch.

I recognize that the “feel” of a town is a rather nebulous thing; still, there’s no reason not to consider one’s intuition. Plus, there are other signs of a lack of baseball support. For example, baseball caps: anecdotally, I see very few of them around. (And, certainly, there are more tattoos than Mariners caps.)

And when I do see caps, they are frequently not of the Mariner variety — i.e. the team located only three hours away and accessible via most cable subscriptions. Like, I have a friend from Portland who’s a Mets fan. I asked him, “Why are you a Mets fan?” “Because of Dwight Gooden,” he tells me. Another gentleman — a bartender at Claudia’s Sports Pub — is from Portland and, in 60 or so years, has never been east of Pendleton, Oregon. His team? The Yankees. “They used to be on CBS every Saturday and Sunday when I was a kid,” he tells me.

The Portland Beavers are a mess.

So far, in 2010, the Portland Beavers are last in the Pacific Coast League in attendance, averaging a reported 3,380 fans per game. The low attendance is very likely due to the fact that the Beavers are on their way out of town. After having jumped at the opportunity to acquire a Major League Soccer franchise — and adopting, with it, MLS’s requirement that teams play in soccer-specific stadia — owner Merritt Paulson was unable to find a place for the Beavers*. So far as this author knows, they are an orphaned team after the 2010 PCL season ends.

*Needless to say, there’s a lot more to it than this.

Attendance has not always been this poor. In 2009, the team averaged 5,133 per home contest — placing them 12th out of 16 teams. Not great, but not last. In 2008, the Beavers averaged 5,451 per game; that placed them 9th out of 16. Years before that appear to have the team right about in the middle of the pack.

One problem, however — even when attendance has been closer to five thousand — is how it looks in the Beavers’ home park.

The Sacramento River Cats and Round Rock Express — the teams that’ve finished No.s 1 and 2 in PCL attendance the last couple seasons — each currently draw about 9,000 per game. The clubs have stadia that contain about 11,000 and 9,000 fixed seats, respectively, with room for about another 3,000 more fans on grassy knoll-type situations.

Portland’s PGE Park, on the other hand, has something close to 20,000 fixed seats. Yes, a great number of these are roped off for Beaver games, but that doesn’t change the fact that the seats are still there and visible. Put 5,000 people in Sacramento’s Raley Field, and the place looks half full; put the same number at PGE, and it looks three-quarters empty. In any case, it makes the games less exciting.

Portland hasn’t always drawn poorly.

Rob Neyer — who lives in Portland and very patiently listened to me stumble my way through some ideas for the present article — suggests that Portland might not be well-suited to Triple-A ball. According to Neyer, when the short-season Portland Rockies of the Northwest League replaced an earlier incarnation of the Portland Beavers in 1995, the Rockies actually drew more fans than their Triple-A brethren in approximately half as many games. Also according to Neyer, the short-season Portland Mavericks (1973-1977) also drew well.

Essentally, this is Portland baseball over the last 40 or so years: 1. Class A team draws well. 2. Triple-A team displaces Class A team. 3. Triple-A team suffers. 4. Triple-A team leaves. 5. Class A team replaces it. 6. Class A team draws well. 7. Repeat.

Apparently, the ratings for baseball are good in Portland.

According to the Bring MLB to Portland Facebook page — which is obviously biased in no way:

In 2001, the Portland TV market generated a stunning 4.3 cable TV rating for Seattle Mariners’ games, a better mark than 19 MLB cities recorded for their own teams – including the Yankees, Cubs and Giants. Most impressively, the Portland region then produced a 4.5 rating during the 2002 season, when the Mariners failed to make the playoffs.

Those numbers appear to have dropped in the interim, although not to terrible levels. According to an FSN Northwest press release from November of 2007, the Mariners received a 2.3 rating (which I’m led to believe is good) in Portland from 2005 through 2007.

There are good baseball players from Portland and environs.

Massachusetts has a population of approximately 6.5 million; Oregon, about 4.0 million. This year, however, only four players born in Massachusetts have made any sort of major league appearance: Chris Capuano, Manny Delcarmen, Sean Gallagher, and Lance Zawadzki. On the other hand, 13 Oregon natives have made appearances in the majors this season — five of them from Portland alone.

Moreover, the Oregon State Beavers made the College World Series 2005-07, winning the entire tournament the last two of the those years. Certainly, no New England state can boast of such an accomplishment.

What’s the significance of this? Well, it might only mean that Oregon’s winters are more temperate than New England’s, thus allowing young athletes to play year-round. It almost definitely suggests, though, that when those young athletes play, a good number of them are choosing baseball as one of their sports of choice.


45 Responses to “Is Portland a Good Baseball Town?”

  1. Cole F on July 22nd, 2010 2:56 am

    Being from Portland and going to college at Oregon State, I’ve attended games at both PGE Park and Goss Stadium. The OSU games are far more enjoyable to me mainly because PGE Park is so ill suited for baseball. I also don’t find myself invested in the outcome of the game when I attend a Portland Beaver game, since I am a Mariner fan and they are a Padre affiliate.

  2. New England Fan on July 22nd, 2010 4:47 am

    I first experience PCL baseball in the 50’s at age 10 when my parents moved from DC to the Northwest and we spent a summer in Portland. At that time, the stadium was known as Multinomah Stadium, and having been to Griffith Stadium in DC as my only comparison, I thought it was pretty cool. At that young age, I thought that Portland was a good baseball town.

    It seems sad that Portland would be losing baseball- there is a heritage there.

  3. groundzero55 on July 22nd, 2010 5:02 am

    I’m a Washington native and lived in Portland for three years so I got a pretty good feel of Portland in terms of this situation. Apparently, the statistic says that there is more viewing of Mariners games in Portland than several other MLB teams have in their home city. Yet you rarely see Mariner caps nor will you hear much talk about them on the street. This is because Portland has a huge inferiority complex and as a city, will never admit that something Seattle or Washington does is a better idea. It is a funny thing for two states so close together, and I’ve never heard about it in the other direction. Portlanders talk about Washington as if it is another planet, not a two mile drive across the Columbia.
    In my early 20s I was also consistently infuriated by the Portland city government, which found reason after reason not to bring MLB to the city, yet fell over themselves when presented with the possibility of soccer or hockey coming to town.

  4. mwinkel on July 22nd, 2010 6:53 am

    Enjoy being in Madison!!! Oone of the best towns in the whole country. Go see some badger games, does not matter which sport, they are all very exciting.

  5. Paul B on July 22nd, 2010 6:54 am

    Would the Mariners love to move one of their affiliates to Portland?

    Not sure if that is in any way possible, but there’s a couple of their clubs that are sure a long way from Seattle.

  6. tuttle07 on July 22nd, 2010 7:36 am

    Portland is a good town and a decent baseball town, but let’s face it: triple-A baseball and PGE park aren’t exactly a great combination. The people I know who attend games there with any regularity do so to party and not for the actual games. If the park was more well-suited for baseball they might do better. I’d like to see the city try to build a AAA stadium, but (like Seattle) there are only so many sports fans and sports dollars there. Between college sports, the MLS and the NBA, most people get their sports fix without baseball entirely.

  7. Carson on July 22nd, 2010 7:41 am

    Too bad there isn’t a AA league in our region. It would be pretty sweet having the top three levels (and rookie ball too) all in a couple hour drive from each other.

    It would be equally sweet to move the Mavericks out of that bandbox, but perhaps it doesn’t matter much.

  8. Westside guy on July 22nd, 2010 8:02 am

    I think the western side of both Washington and Oregon suffer from the same “problem” – with the great summer weather we generally have, there’s a lot of competition in terms of “stuff to do outside”. It’s almost never too hot here for hiking, tennis, golf, hanging out in the park, whatever.

  9. Slippery Elmer on July 22nd, 2010 8:19 am

    He’s from Portland and never been west of Pendleton? Is that Portland, Maine? 😉

  10. DMZ on July 22nd, 2010 8:31 am

    and adopting, with it, MLS’s requirement that teams play in soccer-specific stadia

    I’m confused. MLS clearly doesn’t have a requirement that teams play in soccer-specific stadia: in Seattle, we have to look no further than the Sounders, who share their field with the Seahawks.

    Why is Portland required to eject their baseball team, then?

  11. Jake Squid on July 22nd, 2010 8:46 am

    I’m with Westside guy on this. I’ve always thought that there was too much other stuff Portlanders are into than sitting and watching baseball while the weather is good.

    While I love baseball, the rest of Portland doesn’t seem to.

  12. mymrbig on July 22nd, 2010 9:04 am

    I agree that the best situation would be having a Mariner-affiliated minor league club in Portland. I think more fans would turn out to see the future Felix’s, Ackley’s, Franklin’s, etc. than the future Padres.

  13. lemonverbena on July 22nd, 2010 9:07 am

    Qwest Field was designed as a soccer/football stadium. What disqualifies for MLS is having a configuration that doesn’t work for soccer: a baseball field.

    The city correctly concluded that an MLS franchise is more important than a Triple-A baseball team. And, to people in Portland, the San Diego Padres may as well be a minor league team. If the Beavers were the AAA affiliate of the Mariners, Giants or Dodgers I think there would have been considerably more interest.

  14. pdxMsfan on July 22nd, 2010 9:22 am

    I live in Portland and attend a few Portland Beaver games a year. As Carson points out, the stadium is dreary and seemingly empty. This doesn’t make for a fun baseball environment. I’d much rather make the drive to Corvallis to watch the Oregon State Beavers play in their cozy 3,300 seat stadium, which was seemingly filled for the weekend games I attended. The college games (Oregon and Oregon State) held in Portland also draw three or four times more fans than the AAA Beavers.

    With the success of the two college programs in Oregon, it seems that interest in local baseball is growing even if interest in our soon-to-be-gone AAA affiliate is decreasing.

  15. DMZ on July 22nd, 2010 10:14 am

    Qwest Field was designed as a soccer/football stadium. What disqualifies for MLS is having a configuration that doesn’t work for soccer: a baseball field.

    This may be the case, but this is not how it’s been messaged or covered in the press: I’ve read several pieces that state this exactly as Carson does, which isn’t at all true, or at least is a new requirement for the Timbers.

    To cite examples of non-football stadiums:
    D.C. United plays at RFK, which (obviously) has a baseball config
    KC plays at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, which has a baseball team playing there (though the stadium was re-config’d for soccer)

    I still don’t get it.

  16. greentunic on July 22nd, 2010 10:26 am

    Doesn’t every place you lived and said feels more baseball friendly have a team? I imagine Seattle or Phoenix didn’t feel to baseabll friendly either before their teams.

    The problem as always is the stadium. PGE is obviously not an MLB park so some other stadium funding would have to materialize.

  17. JMHawkins on July 22nd, 2010 11:05 am

    The problem as always is the stadium. PGE is obviously not an MLB park so some other stadium funding would have to materialize.

    Well, it doesn’t seem to be a AAA park either, so I guess the question is, what sort of park is it?

    Kickball now, I suppose.

  18. DMZ on July 22nd, 2010 11:06 am

    I imagine Seattle or Phoenix didn’t feel to baseabll friendly either before their teams.

    You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. That you would even say “before their teams” as if there was no baseball, much less viable professional baseball, reveals that you’ve both a lack of imagination and impressive ignorance of baseball history here. The West Coast had a long and interesting baseball history before the Giants and Dodgers moved.

    I mean… come on. It’s not that hard to do a bare minimum of research on this kind of thing.

  19. khardy on July 22nd, 2010 11:26 am

    Portland is largest market left in the United States with only one professional sports team, and is a bigger market than several cities with MLB teams. Baseball could work, and has worked. It’s just that presently the Beavers are a dead fish in the water and Merritt Paulson has no interest in spending money to generate fan interest this season or the past few. He’s put his eggs in the MLS basket and rightfully so.

    If Portland had a bigger corporate base I think MLB baseball would work wonderfully in the city, but there just isn’t the money for suite/advertising sales. Fan support would be there.

  20. Carson Cistulli on July 22nd, 2010 11:30 am

    He’s from Portland and never been west of Pendleton? Is that Portland, Maine.

    Ack. Fixed.

    I’m confused. MLS clearly doesn’t have a requirement that teams play in soccer-specific stadia: in Seattle, we have to look no further than the Sounders, who share their field with the Seahawks.

    DMZ, that is odd, isn’t it? A recent article published on makes many of the same claims. MLS commish Don Garber is quoted as saying (albeit indirectly) that “soccer-specific stadiums are necessary to maximize revenue through premium seating, television-optimized sight lines, scheduling priority, and increased advertising opportunities, including naming rights.”

    The article also suggests, as I’ve heard before, that remodeling PGE was a condition of MLS coming to Portland. Again, though, there’s Qwest Field. Maybe Qwest and RFK, etc, are better fits because of the similarities between football and soccer fields? That’s a simple explanation, of course, but makes sense, maybe.

  21. khardy on July 22nd, 2010 11:32 am

    I’m confused. MLS clearly doesn’t have a requirement that teams play in soccer-specific stadia: in Seattle, we have to look no further than the Sounders, who share their field with the Seahawks.

    Why is Portland required to eject their baseball team, then?

    This is relatively new development with the new expansion teams. I’m not sure how the Sounders fit in the timeline, but for older teams (DC United/RFK) this was certainly not a demand.

    Expansion fees have also shot up. Paulson spent $40 million for rights, whereas I think it was only $15 million or so the last go ’round. Obviously MLS thinks their product is getting better and can demand more. And they are right because they have gotten away with it.

  22. JMHawkins on July 22nd, 2010 11:37 am

    The West Coast had a long and interesting baseball history before the Giants and Dodgers moved

    Inconceivable! Why, next you’ll be telling us that the Pacific Coast League once – long ago – was nearly the equivalent of a Major League (a real-life AAAA league as it were), and that the Portland Beavers are the current incarnation of a team going all the way back to 1901. You might even try to convince us Seattle had a PCL team in 1903, but knowing you, you would push it too far and claim they were called the “Seattle Clamdiggers” and tip us all off to the fabrication. Nobody would name a team the “Clamdiggers”* except maybe Ivar Haglund, and he didn’t open his first fish ‘n chips until ’38.

    So don’t try to fool us!

    * NB: Join us at Sicks Stadium this Friday when the Beavers play the Clamdiggers on Inappropriate Mascot Name Night!

  23. zzyzx on July 22nd, 2010 11:40 am

    The Sounders got an exception because the team would be able to get a lot of the revenue and the owners (basically) promised that soccer would taken seriously as a cotenant in the building. What they don’t want is something where the entire place was all Seahawks and, oh yeah, another team plays there too.

  24. thejazzguy on July 22nd, 2010 1:00 pm

    I moved here to P-town from Seattle about five years ago and found out quickly that this was not a baseball town. On opening day of baseball season, I went to my nearby sports bar to watch the debut of Richie Sexton and found I was the only person on the bar. The entire game–crickets.

    This was a good introduction to attending a Beaver baseball game. I have been to about one a year and found them all to be very boring affairs. When I lived in Seattle, I would go to Rainiers games because I loved that atmosphere of AAA baseball so much. Not so here with the Beavers. I won’t miss them.

  25. littlesongs on July 22nd, 2010 1:07 pm

    Carson, we are sorry to see you go.

    I think the answer is both yes and no, but this is a very complex question with equally complex answers. I am 40 and have lived in Portland almost my entire life, so perhaps a bit of my experience will lend a little insight.

    When I first began attending games as a kid, Civic Stadium was an old school ballpark with wooden bleachers. It was an all-American atmosphere with cigar smoke, cheap beer and leather lungs. Retired players and old-timers of every stripe attended and gladly shared secrets with wide-eyed kids.

    Baseball was alive in the Rose City. The colorful Mavericks had permanently etched themselves into history during the years between AAA affiliates. Semi-pro teams had also enjoyed a long golden era with municipal parks like Sckavone Field drawing fans steadily through the 70s.

    After decades of showcasing PCL talents including an old Satchel Paige and a young Lou Piniella, the Bevos disappeared for a few years. By the late 70s I was old enough to go to games regularly, and the Beavers returned just in time for me to become a lifelong fan. They were affiliated with winners over the years too. The Pirates, Phillies and Twins were not chopped liver.

    The Beavers were a team with strong local connections to both their both past and present. Players who made history like the great Artie Wilson called Portland home after their careers were over. Having a great local baseball man like Tom Trebelhorn on the staff fostered those bonds as well.

    Ownership was good for a time too. Incredibly cheap season tickets were available so that families could afford to take their kids to every game. As members of “The Fred Meyer Knothole Club” my brother and I had first dibs on the baseballs that made it to the bleachers during BP. Good ol’ Dad went out of his way to make sure he got us there early and never suggested we leave when they went to extra frames.

    For a while, the NASL had a Portland Timbers team that we loved too. They played games at Civic Stadium in the summer and the Glass Palace some winters. As I recall, the franchise was owned by Louisiana-Pacific, and when they left, so did professional soccer.

    The Timbers had quite a roster of characters, but one man stood head and shoulders above the rest: Clive Charles. After hanging up the cleats, he turned Portland into “Soccer City U.S.A.” by coaching some of the greatest college teams in the history of the sport. His legacy at U of P resonates to this day. Pro soccer did not build this market. Collegiate soccer built this market.

    As I grew older, my baseball days became more and more bittersweet. When the Beavers changed hands, the bleacher seats suddenly cost more money. The gates were locked until the team had collected every BP ball from the stands. Crowds thinned and the franchise became less and less interested in Portland. 1994 was bad for baseball fans everywhere, but we got an early kick in the balls when the team moved to Salt Lake.

    The biggest reason why the return of baseball succeeded when the Bend franchise moved to Portland was ownership. Jack and Mary Cain might not have been able to offer a AAA team, but they did offer a first rate baseball experience. Fans were welcomed like family and the games were fun. Before the end of their great run, we got to see a young Figgy in action too.

    In their new incarnation, the Beavers never took off. Even with Jake Peavy, Jason Bay and many other promising young men on the roster, it was not consistently promoted. Nor was it on the radar of our largely transient population of local sports journalists who like to think of the Portland market as their own minor league affiliate.

    The gritty blue collar city full of natives that had enjoyed a century of minor league baseball was now full of white collar transplants who were bewildered at the lack of MLB. Instead of supporting a AAA team like true baseball fans, they rallied the troops and stirred up hope with every rumor that came out of Selig’s office. Most Portland natives knew all the talk of MLB overtures was balderdash, but many folks fell for it bait, line and sinker.

    The Seattle Mariners are the major league franchise for the Northwest. It might be a hard pill to swallow for the transplants and newcomers, but for those of us who grew up here with the M’s on the radio and the Beavers in our ballpark, it is the natural balance of the universe. Losing the Beavers for at least 2011 makes this miserable M’s season even worse.

  26. bridgetown on July 22nd, 2010 1:30 pm

    From someone who has moved TO Portland, the answer is decidedly no. A good baseball town will have a baseball buzz, and the only sports in Portland that have buzz are basketball(Blazers) and college football (Ducks/Beavers). In a good baseball town you should be able to start a casual conversation about the local team(s) (ie Mariners or Beavers) as easily as talking about the weather. Baseball is just not a part of daily life here.

  27. greentunic on July 22nd, 2010 1:46 pm

    DMZ, I suppose I would like to hear what Phoenix and Seattle were like before the Pilots and Diamonbacks came in and whether the culture really felt much more baseball oriented than Portland does now. If they did, then great. I simply wish to be educated on the matter.

  28. JMHawkins on July 22nd, 2010 2:26 pm

    greentunic, google (or Bing, if you’d rather) “Seattle Rainiers”. After that, you’re on your own for Phoenix, though, um, “Cactus League” might be a good hint…

  29. paulhamann on July 22nd, 2010 2:43 pm

    I’ve been in Portland (well, the ‘Couv) for three years after 11 years in Seattle. I’ve been a season-ticket holder for the Beavers since I got here, and I’m very sorry to see them go.

    I’m even a fan of PGE Park. It’s true that it appears cavernous, but you can’t beat the location; MAX trains zipping past left field. It’d be nice if it were smaller.

    MLS makes sense and will succeed here, but I hate that it happened at the expense of baseball. I think Portland’s desire to be “major league” meant that minor league baseball never had a chance.

    Net result: next year, driving to Salem-Keizer’s crappy stadium will be the quickest way to affiliated baseball. Ick.

    I agree that a Mariner affiliate would be marvelous in Portland, but that’s not going to happen. Two leagues–the PCL and Northwest League–make geographical sense for Portland. Forget all the others. With the Rainiers and AquaSox, the Mariners are already set at those levels and have no need to change.

    Anyway, within a year or two, I predict somebody whips together a stadium–maybe even in Clark County–to draw a NWL team. Will Portland be the largest city in the US without an MLB or affiliated minor league baseball team? (I think El Paso might be bigger.)

    Meanwhile, I’ll be at PGE Park tonight, along with a few hundred drunken strangers on Thirsty Thursday. And I’ll be there again on the last day of the season.

  30. Agent_J on July 22nd, 2010 2:55 pm

    On the point of soccer stadiums, the league has made it a priority to put their teams in superior facilities, and soccer specific whenever possible. There are exceptions in some cases, but nearly all those exceptions (save for Seattle) already have plans in place to move their teams into their own building.
    Chicago: Plays in a soccer specific stadium (SSS) built in 2006
    Columbus: Plays in a sss built in 1999
    District of Columbia: Plays at RFK stadium. The league has been fighting the club and city for years to get out of RFK but has been unsuccessful. They are talking about moving the team, not unlike the Keyarena situation. Baltimore is a popular candidate
    Kansas City: Plays in a AAA ballpark. The team is in the middle of construction of their own SSS expected to be ready by the middle of 2011.
    New England: The other club the league is fighting for a new stadium, but with frugal ownership it isn’t likely to get done any time soon. Fans are wearing green shirts to their next nationally televised match to say “run this club like Seattle”. Too bad, because if they could fill that place up I don’t think Gillette would be a bad place to watch Soccer.
    New York: Team just moved into a world class SSS in New Jersey
    Philadelphia: Just moved into a SSS
    Toronto: Plays in SSS
    Chivas: Share SSS with LA Galaxy
    Colorado: plays in SSS
    Dallas: Plays in SSS
    Houston: Share field with University football. Breaking ground soon on SSS
    Los Angeles: Share SSS with Chivas
    Salt Lake: Plays in SSS
    San Jose: Plays in SSS
    Seattle: Plays in Football-Soccer hybrid
    Portland: Will play in renovated SSS
    Vancouver: Will play in Football-Soccer hybrid, plans to move to SSS in next 5 years
    So the only teams that don’t have a soccer specific stadium and don’t have plans to move to one in the near future are Seattle, New England and D.C. Of the three, Seattle’s is the only one that makes sense as is, because Qwest is as good a Soccer facility as any in the nation and building another 40,000+ seat stadium in the area just doesn’t make any sense. Part of the problem in New England is low attendance, so the ownership doesn’t have much money to do anything about it. I’m not really sure what D.C’s problem is. They already have a good fanbase, and it’d be even better if they didn’t play in the crapper that is RFK.

  31. DMZ on July 22nd, 2010 3:00 pm

    I simply wish to be educated on the matter.

    Again, not to belabor this point… educate thyself. Go look this stuff up. Don’t just say “duhhrrr I imagine it sucked before the team came”. You have no clue? Go get a clue. Just coming out and offering some wrong-headed idiocy only reveals that you know nothing and are too lazy to look anything up.

    Unless that’s your objective, in which case yay.

  32. heychuck01 on July 22nd, 2010 3:00 pm

    I would point to the support that the Portland metro area has given to the Trailblazers over the years to counter your argument.

    Two different games, yes. But Portland has shown a ravenous fan base. I would say it is less for the Trailblazers, but MORE for MAJOR professional sports.

    Portland doesn’t ‘feel’ like a basketball town to me, compared to other places I have been. Since you offer no other evidence then ‘feel’, that is the evidence I am going with.

    Yes I am very biased as I want a major league baseball team in my hometown 🙂

  33. DMZ on July 22nd, 2010 3:03 pm

    I totally get that.

    But the point I’m trying to make specifically here is that this is continually messaged as “MLS doesn’t allow teams to play in anything but a soccer-only location” when that is clearly not the case. And I get that maybe they don’t want to make a more nuanced argument because it undermines their position in Portland and generally in demanding stadiums from citizens.

    I just wish at least we’d get some acknowledgment in the press that the situation’s a little more complicated then “Well, MLS requires everywhere, it so the Beavers are out”

  34. greentunic on July 22nd, 2010 3:05 pm

    Lack of imagination, wrong-headed idiot, and ignorant. It does not seem I am worthy to opine here so I will not.

    Instead I will ask if Portland were to become the site of an expansion, would they be NL or AL? The AL West has the smallest division in baseball so I would think that might the choice. The AL central, NL central, and NL west make little sense to me. How great it would be to have a team in Portland? Though I’d hope for NL cause I wouldn’t want to root against the M’s.

  35. Carson Cistulli on July 22nd, 2010 4:09 pm

    Paul, I agree with you in re the overall aesthetics of PGE. In particular, the 18th Ave scene is excellent, with the street view and MAX and everything.

    I wasn’t in town for it, but still regret not having attended last year’s Triple-A All-Star Game. My guess is, that was a chance to see the full potential of PGE as a baseball stadium.

  36. joser on July 22nd, 2010 4:14 pm

    Well, actually I consider Portland and Seattle to be close enough to being “the same market” for marketing that I would suggest/expect Portland to get a hypothetical NL team to create a more natural interleague rival than the (hated, hated) Padres. After all, it takes about as much time to drive between Portland and Seattle as it does to drive between DC and Baltimore or Oakland and SF (once rush hour traffic is factored in 😉 ). Then you’d switch the Rockies into the AL West or something.

  37. greentunic on July 22nd, 2010 5:35 pm

    Then you’d switch the Rockies into the AL West or something.

    That would be real interesting. I keep forgetting that the divisions are not set in stone. That would work better. It adds a team to the AL West and improves cross-league rivalry. I’d prefer the Padres or Dbacks join the AL west though cause the Rockies would scare me haha.

  38. tbolt79 on July 22nd, 2010 9:00 pm

    Let’s not forget that there was a considerable amount of effort on behalf of the Paulsons to build a baseball-only stadium in Portland.

    The Memorial Coliseum arena site (next to the Rose Garden) was considered for a new stadium but was not popular because it would have been like actually tearing down a memorial (the arena is dedicated to veterans).

    Other neighborhoods in and around Portland were also considered but those areas did not want to deal with the perceived traffic problem that a AAA stadium would attract, but especially because of the additional cost it would take to build the stadium.

    At the end of the day, the only sure bet was MLS and renovating the stadium to be soccer-specific because if baseball and a separate AAA stadium was to be attached to this project all along, it’s VERY likely that none of the stadiums would happen. Paulson had to cut his losses and go with the Timbers.

    MLS is a younger league that is trying to legitimize itself by having their teams in their own stadiums or the perception of teams having their own stadium (the Krafts in NE have sunk a TON of money in MLS, so unfortunately the Revs fans are somewhat stuck). MLS didn’t HAVE to come to Portland, they leveraged that fact and that’s why there’s going to be a SSS in Portland.

  39. akampfer on July 23rd, 2010 6:50 am

    Minor league baseball never has drawn well in Portland. I think that partially has to do with PGE Park. That place has always been a dump. I know, they did that renovation a few years back, but you know what they say about lipstick on a pig. I agree with the posters there would have been more interest in the Beavers had they been a Mariners affiliate because as noted Portland has very good TV ratings for baseball, they are watching the Mariners. The poster noted Portland’s ratings were better than many MLB cities, that should tell you something right there. Portland has supported the NBA (better than Seattle did) and has been very supportive of soccer in the past, so no question Portland will support pro sports. I think the biggest problem is for the most part, PDX has been bushed-leagued to death and people are tired of it. Would the town support MLB? No question in my mind. Just ride a train to Seattle on game day.

  40. paulhamann on July 23rd, 2010 8:26 am

    Carson–the AAA All-Star game was fabulous. The MVP, Eric Kratz, said that he loved the ballpark,and it was interesting to see the place full (no tarp over the top seats).

    I also call into question whether support of a minor league team correlates with support of a major league team. I remember cavernous Mile High Stadium getting not more than a couple thousand for Denver Zephyrs games in the early ’90s unless there was a fireworks promotion or the annual “let’s try to outdraw MLB on a normal night” challenge. Then the Rockies arrived and broke every attendance record in existence.

    This is all academic, however. Even if I die here in Portland in another 40 years, I suspect there won’t be MLB here (especially not now). Guess I’ll hold onto that Mariner 16-gamer and my Amtrak credit card.

  41. dw on July 23rd, 2010 9:17 am

    The issue with PGE Park and MLS is about poor configuration for soccer. Yes, KC is playing in a baseball park right now, but it’s only temporary until their new park opens next year (they had to move there due to Arrowhead getting renovated). And yes, DC United plays in RFK, but they were the only tenant there until the Nationals arrived and they’re the only tenant now (and remember that RFK is the last of the cookie cutters; the seats can be reconfigured for football and baseball).

    Portland would still have baseball if they’d managed to work out a new stadium deal, but it was a combination of neighborhood NIMBYism and the cities being unwilling to sink the cash and political capital into building a stadium. And I think the desire to be an MLB town, actually, hurt the effort. Just plopping a 7,000 seat stadium in some parking lot wasn’t going to work when you’re thinking it must eventually be a 37,000 seat stadium.

    It would not have been hard to set up a temporary park at the Expo Center right off the Yellow Line. (I mean, seriously, Vancouver BC just threw up a temporary stadium for the Lions and Whitecaps in the middle of a park in under three months.) It wouldn’t have been hard to space in Beaverton or Clackamas or even over the river in Vancouver. But there was just no will.

    The problem now is that there’s no park for baseball to return to. With PGE going to be permanently rectangular, someone will have to spend the $30-40M on a new 7,000 seat park with the luxury boxes and all the modern minor league stadium amenities.

    And yes, $30-40M. Tulsa’s ONEOK Field cost $38M. The Cheney renovations will cost somewhere over $30M. The days of slapping up a bunch of bleachers around some turf for $5M are over. These new minor league parks have major league amenities at minor league prices. Or really, major league prices 10-15 years ago.

  42. DMZ on July 23rd, 2010 11:54 am

    These new minor league parks have major league amenities at minor league prices.

    I don’t know what your experience has been, but I find myself paying major league prices at minor league ballgames. It may not be quite as high, but man, it is no bargain at all.

  43. bongo on July 24th, 2010 8:33 pm

    I’ve been going to a Beaver game a year for a few years now. Personally, I like PGE’s location and the stadium’s size and amenities. It’s much nicer than Cheney, for example and I would look forward to driving down from Seattle to see a game during the summer.

    However, the Beavers teams and the fans are another issue. A lot of folks come to PGE to drink and there have been some incidents. For example, at one game I attended players got into a fight with fans. I’ve been to several games where drunken fans had gone over the top and had to be ejected. You don’t see that at Mariners, AquaSox or Rainiers games much.

    Also, the Beavers haven’t been very talented since the days of Jack Cust. The last few years there weren’t many Beavers players who stood out to me.

  44. lalo on July 26th, 2010 4:43 pm

    Also, the Beavers haven’t been very talented since the days of Jack Cust. The last few years there weren’t many Beavers players who stood out to me.

  45. lalo on July 26th, 2010 4:44 pm

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