Baseball in Portland (OR), a good idea or not?

According to a report at, a potential ownership group is gaining momentum in their attempt to lure Major League Baseball to Portland. With Portland’s history with professional baseball, you may wonder if that is a good idea.

The potential owners have been talking with the city in private. Even though the city has faced opposition for a publicly funded ballpark, the ownership group states it wants to pay the biggest part of the construction of a future ballpark. According to, a city hall source confirmed that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is in communication with representatives of the group. A second source indicated that the group is engaged in talks to secure two potential stadium sites. Part of the stadium funding would be a $150 million grant, which was approved by the State of Oregon back in 2003 when the Montreal Expos were looking to relocate.

MLB expansion is on Rob Manfred’s radar for a while. But the commissioner doesn’t want to expand before the stadium issues in Oakland and St. Petersburg have been solved. But with those issues still not solved, there may be an opportunity that one of the teams will move to Portland…

Even though professional baseball in Portland dates back to 1883, obtaining an MLB team may be a wrong decision. Four times the city had AAA franchises and as many times the teams moved on due to lack of attendance. The Portland Beavers ranked in the lower half of the attendance rankings in their final five years of existence. But one has to be honest here that the owner of the Timbers moved the team away as he wanted their stadium to be used for his MLS team, the Portland Timbers.

Schermafbeelding 2018-04-17 om 13.20.21
PGE Park, former home of the Portland Beavers, current home of the MLS Portland Timbers

But during other stints of AAA baseball, attracting fans also seemed to be the problem. After the Beavers left Portland in 1972, independent baseball took their place. The Portland Mavericks, owned by showman Bing Russell, managed to draw big crowds during the five years the team played in the Northwest League. The team set a record for A Short Season with 125,300 fans passing the turn styles.

Seeing the success of the Mavericks, MiLB decided to put a team in Portland again in 1978. But once again, after the 1993 season, the owner moved the team, this time to Salt Lake City where it was called the Buzz, Stingers and now Bees.

So you can wonder if bringing an MLB team to Portland is such a good idea after all. Every PCL stint ended with moving a team elsewhere due to lack of lack of fans passing the turn styles. Apparently, baseball isn’t that popular in Portland. The Mavericks may be the exception to the rule as owner Bing Russell knew how to entertain the crowds. But since there isn’t any festive atmosphere during MLB games as the game is much more serious, the lack of entertainment may be the Achilles heel of a future MLB franchise.


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