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Could The Athletics Move... To Portland, Oregon?

An intriguing article promoting the possibility of major-league baseball in Oregon suggests this as one idea.


Along with many others, I have supported the idea of the Oakland Athletics moving to San Jose. It makes sense from a baseball standpoint and a business standpoint; the San Francisco Bay Area can support two teams, but the A's have to get out of their dump of a stadium in Oakland.

You surely know about the Giants' intransigence in allowing that move and it's not my point here to rehash all of that. Instead, I point you to this article in the Oregonian that posits the idea of the A's moving several hundred miles north:

Poor attendance at both Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays home games has fueled speculation in some circles that either of those franchises could potentially be on the move in the near future.

"Until Oakland and Tampa have solutions, whether they build a stadium or they move, Portland is still an option," Lashbrook said. "I'll go to my grave with that."

Portland is the No. 22 TV market in the United States (link opens .pdf), just a bit smaller than St. Louis. Six smaller markets -- Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Cincinnati -- have major-league teams, of varying success. Portland had a team in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League for many years until...

In 2009, another plan to demolish the arena and build a minor league baseball ballpark was thwarted by supporters of the building. That was when city leaders were looking for a place to put the Class AAA Portland Beavers; the Beavers vacated what would become Jeld-Wen Field as part of Portland's push to win a Major League Soccer franchise.

The "arena" they're talking about is the Moda Center, formerly the Rose Garden, home of the Portland Trail Blazers. I don't live in Portland and am not familiar with the area, but the rendering in the Oregonian looks pretty good to me, although admittedly it's nothing more than a rendering.

There are a number of problems with this, including:

MLB officials said they didn't expect any discussions about franchises relocating to come up at the league's annual winter meetings which start after the World Series wraps up.

Nevertheless, it would seem to me that MLB has to solve the Athletics issue sooner rather than later. Either the Giants are going to have to allow the A's to move to San Jose, or the A's should start investigating other locations. Portland is about 150 miles from Seattle, the next-closest major-league city, farther than Milwaukee is from Chicago. There's no doubt in my mind that Portland could support a major-league team.

The other problem, of course, as pointed out in the article, is that this stadium idea is just an idea, for now. There's no specific design and no financing plan, so even if the A's said, "We want to move now!", they couldn't do it.