I would like you to help me in my efforts to get a 4400-seat baseball park built near the heart of Portland, to be the new home of our city's next professional baseball team, The Portland Homers. The Homers would play in The Northwest League, and would delight our city's fans during June, July, and August, just as the Mavericks did in the '70's. The Homers could be a community-owned team, much like Green Bay's Packers.
There is no way a Triple-A ballpark with 9,000 seats can be built near the city-center, and obviously, there is little enthusiasm for AAA baseball played here in April and May. Otherwise, the Pacific Coast League would have been strongly lobbying for a baseball-friendly PGE Park renovation. Logical arguments to keep the Beavers at PGE Park fell on deaf ears. Never mind that the Vikings and Twins have shared a stadium in Minnesota for over 25 years, or that tomorrow's Superbowl in Florida is going to be played at a stadium that also hosts 81 Marlins games each year. In Portland, baseball and soccer/football do not mix - at least not at PGE Park.
Merritt Paulson will never get the taxpayers to help him build a new baseball stadium. He has proven to be no friend of baseball. He can move his team to Calgary or Tucson, and then become the soccer/baseball variation of Paul Allen: a two-sport owner whose teams play in different cities. I, and others, wish him well in those ventures.
Portland can go from being the home of a short-season Single-A Baseball team to the home of a Major League Baseball team some day. Seattle did that; why not here, too? The reality is that a 4400-seat ballpark in Portland could become a family-fun place for a summer professional baseball team, high school games in the spring and fall (for all kinds of sports), and for concerts and other community-related events. There are several locations along the MAX line that could be explored. I especially like the field behind The Portland Tennis Center.
We should help Merritt gracefully move his baseball team away, and we should also pursue a new, realistic course of action. Maybe the decision the Beavers' owners made in 1972 was right, after all. Few Portland fans want to watch professional baseball in April and May played at ballpark without a roof. You know as well as I do that there is a significantly large fan base for baseball in and around The City of Roses. These fans want to support a team in the summer. Let's give them that opportunity with a fresh start. The time to plan is now. Go Homers!
We've got a call in to Mahalic to get his reaction.
As with all things baseball, finding the land in Portland — and overcoming any neighborhood opposition —is obviously a huge problem.
But as somebody old enough to have attended a bunch of Mavericks games, I can say the idea of single-A baseball would be a fine substitute for those of us who are bummed by the prospect of no local baseball option starting in 2011. Playing a short-season schedule gets rid of all the poorly attended April and May dates when the weather is often crappy. Good on Nelson for at least trying to spark an idea.
UPDATE: Mahalic says he appreciates Nelson's enthusiasm but stressed that the sports authority still believes a home can be found in the Portland area for the Triple-A Beavers. He would not specify where that might be.
Also, one thing I forgot to mention in my original post was Nelson's idea for a stadium name - Stumptown Grounds.