Russell Wilson, Ciara invest in Portland MLB project

MLB in Portland 3_1527981653915.jpg.jpg

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Efforts to bring a Major League Baseball team to Portland got a big boost Friday when Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife Ciara stepped up to the plate and said they’re investing in the plan.

Wilson announced he is a part owner of the Portland Diamond Project, whose vision is to bring a MLB team to the Rose City. 

At a press conference at Baseballism Portland on Saturday, Wilson and Ciara said they’d been on a helicopter ride over Portland looking at potential stadium sites.

They talked about wanting to create a winning formula and family-friendly environment for the team in Portland. 

Ciara and Russell Wilson want to bring Major League Baseball to Portland. (KOIN) 

“There’s been a lot of winning in the Pacific Northwest and we want to keep winning,” Wilson said. 

Ciara is excited at the prospect of joining a small but “incredible” group of female sports team owners.

“Honestly it’s very special, it means a lot,” she said. “Not only for myself but for young girls…. it we believe we can do it, we can do it.” 

Watch: Russell Wilson and Ciara in Portland

In a blog, Wilson wrote:

A new team is on the horizon. Today I am honored to announce that Ciara and I are part owners of the Diamond Project; we’re aiming to bring a Major League Baseball team to Portland. A place sports fanatics get excited about, headquarters to a brand athletes of all kind rep, Nike, and a center where a new stadium is about to stand tall. As owners, investors, and partners in this incredible opportunity, we plan to change the game of baseball and impact the lives of kids everywhere.

The Diamond Project earlier this month identified two possible stadium locations. One in Northwest Portland on the site where ESCO currently sits, and one in Northeast Portland that is currently occupied by the Portland Public School district headquarters.

Melanie Mesaros with the Port of Portland confirmed to KOIN 6 News the Portland Diamond Project has been in touch about buying Terminal 2 as the site for a baseball stadium. 

“We’ve been open to a conversation,” Mesaros said. “We aren’t able to get into further details because we’re under a Non-Disclosure Agreement.”

Terminal 2 is a 53-acre facility that handles large cargo and was recently the site of the USS Portland commissioning ceremony.

An aerial view of Terminal 2 at the Port of Portland, as seen in a YouTube video on their website, June 1, 2018 

ESPN reports: “No financial details were announced, but a source said all partners in the venture split the costs equally for the effort. If MLB were to award the city an expansion franchise, those involved in the project would naturally be the favorites to be owners. It would be more complicated if a current team with an existing owner moved to town.

“Wilson is also a partner in a venture to bring the NBA back to Seattle. If either come to fruition, and Wilson is in line to become an owner, the NFL would ultimately have to approve the transaction, to ensure that any other partners would not be offering him extra incentive that could result in tampering.”

What city leaders say

The effort also caught the attention of Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Commissioner Nick Fish.

Wheeler tweeted:

“Watching the Portland Diamond Project steadily gain momentum over the past few months has been exciting. … I look forward to hearing more about the possibilities of this initiative.”

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, June 1, 2018 (KOIN)

“It’s very exciting, obviously,” Fish told KOIN 6 News. “Russell Wilson is a big-time NFL quarterback and he and his wife are essentially saying they have confidence in what these local organizers are doing around bringing baseball to Portland.”

Fish added the first pitch is a long way off, “but I think as a Portlander I think there’s a stirring of a little bit of pride that folks are putting skin in the game, that they are putting money into this project. And I think we’ll learn over the next year whether it comes together or not.”

Part of the issue is Portland doesn’t have a stadium — yet.

“The question at some point will be what’s the city’s role,” Fish said. “Portland is not going to build someone a stadium and we’re not going to put alot of tax money at risk. The kinds of things that we could do to help move this project along are land use and zoning, transportation. We could make changes in what we’re doing to help facilitate the plan.”

The city commissioner said any stadium plan will be required to have housing be built around it.

“The real big question is, though, can they raise the money to land a team and build a stadium? And in Portland, I think, people would be kind of resistant to the idea that a lot of our money, city money, gets put into that.”

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