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Portland Diamond Project wants to bring MLB to Beaverton. How will people get there?

A rendering of a potential baseball stadium in the Portland Metro Area. Portland Diamond Project is negotiating for a site in Beaverton.
Courtesy of Portland Diamond Project
A rendering of a potential baseball stadium in the Portland Metro Area. Portland Diamond Project is negotiating for a site in Beaverton.

The Portland Diamond Project, the organization leading the area’s efforts to attract a Major League Baseball team, has eyes set on the RedTail Golf Center in Beaverton for a stadium, according to a Jan. 30 announcement. But the decision raises more questions than it answers.

The prospect of tens of thousands of fans flocking to Beaverton 81 times a year has raised concerns about how people across the metro area would be able to efficiently travel to a stadium there. The spot has few public transportation options at the moment.

With the pressure mounting to develop a concrete plan for an MLB team — against multiple competing cities — few conversations so far have taken place with agencies key to making any expansion of transportation lines a reality.

Meanwhile, records show that Portland City Hall still favors a Lloyd Center location for a stadium, which it argues already has the necessary infrastructure to support a brand new ballpark. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has long said the development there could be a potential boon to the city’s urban core.

The Diamond Project announced that it was negotiating a land deal with the city of Portland to purchase the RedTail Golf Center, with plans to construct the largest stadium development in Major League Baseball. RedTail is within Beaverton city limits, but the land is owned by Portland.

Wheeler’s chief of staff, Bobby Lee, wrote in a Jan. 26 email that the Diamond Project wanted to use RedTail as the site for a new stadium, according to emails obtained by OPB.

Lee mentioned the city’s concerns that the RedTail site would require new transportation lines, an expensive and potentially time-consuming process, while Lloyd Center is surrounded by existing TriMet bus and MAX lines.

“Beaverton and Tigard residents and local elected officials will need to vet the new (and significant) master planning project, which will take significant time, public engagement, and deliberation,” Lee wrote.

And it appears few conversations have taken place about how transportation could be expanded near RedTail in a timely manner.

TriMet spokesperson Mark Miller said the agency has only had “superficial” conversations with the Diamond Project, the last of which occurred several months ago.

“We shared with them that proposed stadium sites along an existing MAX line would be better served by transit than sites that don’t have a MAX station nearby,” Miller said in a written statement.

The Diamond Project has also not had discussions with the Metro regional government in several years, according to a spokesperson. The Metro councilors from the Beaverton area, Juan Carlos González and Gerritt Rosenthal, have not had conversations about a potential stadium in the city.

“All I know about the site comes from being a golfer and having played RedTail,” Rosenthal said.

The Diamond Project declined OPB’s requests for an interview.

Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty said her city began conversations with the Diamond Project in the days following the RedTail announcement. She told OPB that she’s long wanted to develop the area, with the city in need of more commercial space, but that it will need transportation upgrades.

“I also recognize that we have a lot of priorities that we need to solve, housing first and foremost,” Beaty said. “We’re optimistically excited about this opportunity.”

TriMet currently has no plans to service a stadium in the area, and a spokesperson said the agency would need more information — and certainty that a team is coming to Oregon — before serious planning could start.

Most transit plans take years, if not decades, to come to fruition, and project funding is all but certain. A $7 billion Metro-led transportation package that would have brought light rail to the southwest suburbs had been discussed and planned for years. But it failed decisively at the ballot box in November 2020.

Before any of that is decided, Portland must agree to sell the property to the Diamond Project, and MLB would have to select the Portland metro area as one of its expansion sites.

All this comes as several cities are vying to be one of MLB’s two planned expansion teams. Cities like Nashville, Charlotte, Montreal and Salt Lake City have ramped up efforts in recent weeks to lure a new team.

Craig Cheek, the face of the Diamond Project, told Portland city officials last May that Salt Lake City represented a serious threat to any team coming to Oregon. The Oakland Athletics could temporarily relocate to Utah prior to moving to their new stadium in Las Vegas.
Copyright 2024 Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Joni Land