First things first: an agreement in principle on a stadium site does not mean a Major League Baseball team is coming to Portland. However, the deal is a not-insignificant step in that direction.
After teasing a major announcement earlier in the week, the Portland Diamond Project announced on Thursday that it had signed an "agreement in principle" with the Port of Portland for its 45-acre Terminal 2 site—the heart of a fast-changing industrial riverfront district. This fall, Portland Monthly wrote about the group's ambitions. Though other groups have tried to bring MLB to the city, the Diamond Project had the advantage of attracting star power from the outset: backers include former Blazers play-by-play announcer Mike Barrett, as well as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and R&B singer Ciara. (Wilson and Ciara are married.) In a press release distributed Thursday afternoon, the group's founder and president Craig Cheek said:
“We believe this has the potential to be a transformative landmark project for this city. Building an iconic, state-of-the-art ballpark along the Willamette River will catalyze economic development and capture great views of both the urban scale of the city and regional character of the Pacific Northwest.”
Not long after, Mayor Ted Wheeler took to Twitter to voice his support for the deal.
Baseball has a rich tradition in Portland. A ballpark along the nw bank of the Willamette River would have a positive impact on our economy while shaping the next great PDX neighborhood. I look forward to working w/@PDXDiamondProj + the Port In moving this initiative forward. https://t.co/EisawdkF1r— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) November 29, 2018
But before you start shelling out too much cash for PDP-branded merch, some minor, niggling questions remain: will the Oakland A's own stadium ambitions collapse, forcing a move to the Northwest? Or will the league send a shiny new expansion team our way? And who will pay for the team and the land? Will they extend the MAX Yellow Line north along the west side of the Willamette from Union Station to avoid a March-October traffic hellscape? (MLB teams play 81 home games during the regular season. For comparison, the Blazers play 42 at home and the Timbers only 17.)
Mere details, of course. The colorful renderings of the dream stadium contain a more intriguing question: a mystery gondola, ferrying baseball fans to and from the stadium (or possibly between locations inside the stadium). A media representative for the PDP couldn't confirm what the gondola was, but called it a "concept." Subsequently, the Oregonian reported the gondola is actually a spectator tram to give fans a presumably better view over the outfield. OK, then!