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On the day the A’s announced their latest ballpark intentions came word that a group looking to lure a team to Portland is ready to unveil its ballpark plan.
What does the A’s ballpark choice of Howard Terminal have to do with Portland? If all goes right in Oakland, absolutely nothing.
The A’s have gone out of their way to show their commitment to staying put. But Historians will note Howard Terminal is the seventh different ballpark plan the A’s have pursued in the last 13 years. If the A’s and Oakland can’t make Howard Terminal work will there come a point when the team wavers from its “Rooted in Oakland” beliefs and seeks a stadium solution elsewhere?
The Portland Diamond Project certainly wouldn’t mind if the A’s (or the Tampa Bay Rays, for that matter) looked northwest for an answer to their ballpark dreams. The group is reportedly set to announce as early as Thursday it has secured land for its proposed Major League Baseball stadium. It may even show off ballpark renderings.
Building it before a team comes is a bold move by Portland, but should the group indeed take ownership of a ballpark site, that’s certainly more than either Oakland or Tampa Bay can boast. Nonetheless, it would remain a longshot for Oregon to get clearance for either team to ever move there. An expansion franchise is a more realistic hope for Portland, which would still have to overcome the fact it has a smaller TV market than all but five current MLB markets. Only Cincinnati, Milwaukee, San Diego, Milwaukee and Baltimore are smaller media markets than Portland.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has embraced the idea of adding two more teams but he won’t even give expansion a serious look until both the A’s and Rays find ballpark solutions.
“For us to expand, we need to be resolved in Tampa and Oakland in terms of their stadium situations,” Manfred said earlier this year. “It would be difficult to convince the owners to go forward with an expansion until those situations are resolved.”
The A’s and City of Oakland are hoping their big announcement Wednesday is the beginning of the end of their ballpark quandary. But until the shovels hit the dirt at Howard Terminal, Portland and perhaps other cities will be out there trying to catch the A’s eye.