The Portland A’s? Oakland Athletics ponder a move to the Pacific Northwest
OAKLAND, Calif. — Following relocations by the city’s NBA and NFL franchises, Oakland may be losing its MLB franchise as well. As the Oakland Athletics organization is clashing with city officials on plans for a new ballpark, and according to ESPN Insider Jeff Passan, the team has been granted permission to explore relocation. While most signs point toward the A’s following the Raiders to Las Vegas, two cities in the northwest are being considered as well: Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Athletics settled in Oakland back in 1968 after bouncing between Philadelphia and Kansas City. More recently, the Athletics have been in contact with Oakland officials to build a new ballpark on the waterfront as part of the Howard Terminal site. The Athletics organization asked the city council to vote on a “mixed-use development” that would include their new ballpark.
Currently, the Athletics play at the 55-year-old RingCentral Coliseum and have been looking for a new home for years now. The organization offered to put up $1 billion toward the $12 billion Howard Terminal project that would create over 3,000 affordable housing units in addition to hotels, commercial and retail space.
The MLB issued the following statement regarding the Athletics’ decision to explore relocation.
“MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A’s new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland,” MLB said. “The A’s have worked very hard to advance a new ballpark in downtown Oakland for the last four years, investing significant resources while facing multiple roadblocks. We know they remain deeply committed to succeeding in Oakland, and with two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is now more important than ever.”
With all of these changes in mind, the reality that Portland could become home to a Major League Baseball franchise is greater than ever. In the past, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has suggested Portland as a potential site for an expansion franchise.
The sports culture is strong in Portland with fans dedicated to the Trail Blazers NBA franchise and two soccer teams in the Portland Timbers (MLS) and Portland Thorns FC (NWSL). Similarly, Oregon sports fans show their dedication to sports through various college athletic programs including the University of Oregon and Oregon State University.
Geographically, it’s a logical fit as well. Besides the Seattle Mariners, the A’s are the closest major league team to Portland and would simply move up the coast to adopt a new home.
Additionally, this wouldn’t be the first time that groups from Portland have rallied to bring a team to their city. For years, the Portland Diamond Project and other local groups have pushed to build a facility north of Downtown Portland along the Willamette River. Not only would it add a level of tourism and intrigue to the city, but it would certainly draw a new fanbase.
Currently perched atop the AL West division, the Athletics are already in the same division as the Mariners. Therefore, teams within the division are already accustomed to traveling to the Pacific Northwest for ballgames.
Another option that’s been discussed is moving to Vancouver, where the A’s would become the second MLB team in Canada. Currently, the Toronto Blue Jays are the only major league organization outside of the United States.
Only time will tell, but the possibility of adding a second MLB franchise to the Pacific Northwest is not out of the question.
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