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After stadium bond fails, the Ems search for a new home

The Eugene Emeralds play at PK Park on May 21.
Nathan Wilk
The Eugene Emeralds play at PK Park on May 21.

The Eugene Emeralds are looking to leave town, after city voters declined to help fund a new baseball stadium in this May's primary.

Ems General Manager Allan Benavides said no location in the Eugene area meets Major League Baseball’s new minor-league facility requirements. That includes the University of Oregon's PK Park, where the team has played since 2010.

He said the Ems were never going to reach the MLB's standards by the stated deadline of 2025. And without the Eugene stadium project on the horizon, he said the team is facing intense pressure to find a new home.

“Major League Baseball could essentially move [its] affiliation to a different area with a different team, and then we're just totally done," he said. "So it's a race.”

Benavides said he visited several communities outside of Oregon this month that have shown interest in taking the team. He said the experience has made him more hopeful.

"They're very excited. They're getting very creative with financing plans," said Benavides. "They're moving very quickly."

Benavides said he hopes to announce a new location later this summer, although he said the team likely wouldn't actually move from PK Park for between two-and-a-half and four years.

"I want local fans to know that we're going to be here," said Benavides. "We're gonna go out with a bang, and we're gonna have a lot of fun until the final out."

If the relocation efforts fails, the Ems could become the second Willamette Valley team to lose its MLB affiliation this decade. In 2020, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes were excluded from the Northwest League during a restructuring. The team has continued to play in an independent league that lacks affiliation with a Major League club.

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
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