Civic Affairs

Wheeler: Challenges, opportunities with MLB in Portland

The mayor said he doesn't intend to use taxpayer money

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- The Portland Diamond Project revealed its chosen stadium site Thursday  -- Terminal 2 at the Port of Portland. 

One day later, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was getting city staff together to start its work to make the potential stadium project come to life. Wheeler said representatives from the bureaus of planning, development, and transportation, as well as Prosper Portland, would be meeting at 2 p.m. Friday to start discussions about the site and its needs. 

“There is nowhere in the city of Portland that you can build a ballpark, in the inner city, where you’re not going to have hundreds of questions that need to be addressed, and significant obstacles that need to be overcome,” Wheeler said. Despite the challenges facing the Terminal 2 site, Wheeler said it was his top pick for a potential stadium. 

Wheeler said the Portland Diamond Project, which has said it wants to throw its first Major League Baseball pitch in Portland in 2023, will be working on an expedited timeline, both to convince MLB to expand the league to Portland and to build a stadium. He said he wants the city’s efforts to mirror Portland Diamond Project’s actions, to keep the project on track. 

The mayor did emphasize, however, repeatedly, that he did not intend to use taxpayer dollars to help build the stadium or to buy a baseball team. Other help, however, would be on the table.  

“It would be very naïve to assume there will be no public contribution,” Wheeler said, when asked about fee waivers or tax forgiveness.  

The financing of the stadium, though, is still a big question mark. While Seahawks star Russell Wilson and singer Ciara, his wife, are part of the Portland Diamond Project, large investors remain unknown.  

Wheeler said the Portland Diamond Project has shared investors’ names with him, but he couldn’t make them public yet. 

“At some point in their disclosure documents, [Portland Diamond Project] will have to reveal the names of the individuals,” Wheeler said.  

As for the schematics themselves, Wheeler said he was excited about the proposed stadium, but cautioned that ideas that were included – such as gondola suites – and those that were not – the 8,000 affordable housing units that had previously been promised – were subject to change.  

“I guess the old admonition is, ‘Actual results may vary,’” Wheeler said. 

When asked whether he would pressure the Portland Diamond Project to include the 8,000 units, Wheeler was non-committal.  

“I’m not prepared to say that it’s a deal-breaker, because I don’t think I have to,” Wheeler said. He said that the baseball stadium would take up a relatively small section of the industrial site, and that he believed Portland Diamond Project would follow other ballpark developments around the country in including housing.


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