The Portland Diamond Project will get up to six more months to study a Northwest Portland marine cargo terminal as a potential baseball stadium site before it has to commit.
The group of investors aiming to bring a Major League Baseball team to Portland said it would pay the Port of Portland, which owns the terminal, $37,500 a month for up to six months during the extension.
Under its original agreement with the port, the investment group faced a deadline Tuesday to secure exclusive negotiating rights — and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for those rights. It would also have had to agree to stop looking at other sites.
But the port site, which sits northwest of the Fremont Bridge, comes with tricky transportation and zoning problems that the Portland Diamond Project has only just begun to address in conversations with city bureaus.
The site lies far from Portland’s light rail network, served only by an infrequent bus line. A Portland Streetcar extension could get closer but would struggle to serve ballpark-sized crowds.
The terminal also is part of a prime industrial zone and business leaders have long argued the city is already short on industrial land. State land-use laws would pressure the city to make up for the loss of the site by designating new industrial land elsewhere, a prospect sure to worry environmentalists.
The port, for its part, has said it no longer sees a need for a marine terminal in the northwest industrial area. Terminal 2, as the site is called, is used only infrequently for specialized cargo.
In addition to the ballpark, the Portland Diamond Project proposal calls for a mixed-use development that includes hundreds of apartments, restaurants and other enter options.
Before landing on the marine terminal, the group had previously considered at least three alternatives: the Portland Public Schools headquarters near the Rose Quarter, a former metal foundry in Northwest Portland and the South Waterfront holdings of the Zidell family.
The school district and the new owners of the metal foundry both said this month that they’ve had no recent talks with the Diamond Project.
The Zidell family, meanwhile, announced plans for a 10,000-seat music venue on its property. The venue is intended as a temporary use until a full-scale as-yet-undetermined redevelopment moves forward.
The Portland Diamond Project has declined to name other potential sites but has said it’s weighing several options even as it moves toward an agreement with the port.
The group is led by former Nike executive Craig Cheek, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Grammy Award-winning singer Ciara, Wilson’s wife.
The group has announced several other investors, but it hasn’t released any big-money names that could foot the multibillion-dollar cost of building a stadium and acquiring a team.
The Diamond Project has said it plans to tap $150 million in bonds approved by the state Legislature during a previous major-league push in 2003. The bonds would be repaid with income taxes on the salaries of players and team managers.
Cheek has said a team could come from league expansion or an existing team relocating to Portland.
One relocation prospect, the Oakland Athletics, appears closer to staying put. The team reached a tentative agreement to build a new stadium on a site owned by the California city’s port. It now has to secure land-use approvals from state and local agencies, a process that could take years.
— Elliot Njus
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