Dear Rob Manfred, bring MLB to Portland

Portland Diamond Project steamrolling ahead

BRANDON WILLMAN, Evergreen reporter

For months,  MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has expressed interest in expanding the number of teams in the league from 30 to 32 teams. One of the most desirable destinations is the City of Roses: Portland, Oregon. 

Hailing from Vancouver, a.k.a. “Portland Jr.” and a massive fan of baseball, baseball coming to what is essentially my hometown would be the greatest sporting news of the 21st century. Despite the list of potential teams being five to ten cities long, more than two spots are also available. 

On top of Manfred wanting to expand to two more cities, including the desire to go to a western time zone city specifically, two teams could potentially relocate. Those two teams are the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays.

If and when the league expands, there is a list of cities, including Montreal, Nashville, Mexico City and, most important competing with Portland is Las Vegas. 

Luckily for Portland, if the Oakland A’s happen to relocate, it would make a lot of sense for Portland to be the destination. There would not need to be any division relocation necessary, as they would fit perfectly in the AL West with the Seattle Mariners. 

With the A’s experiencing more and more turmoil surrounding their new proposed stadium and the owners’ reputation, it’s starting to look like the best move for them is to pack up their bags and skip town. 

Portland has a long list of reasons that make them the perfect destination for relocation. Realistically, it all comes down to the support and admiration that the fanbase can give a team and Portland has some of the most dedicated fanbases in all of North American sports. 

The three major teams in Portland are the Trail Blazers of the NBA, the Timbers of the MLS and the Thorns of the NWSL. The dedication to these teams and the ongoing support despite several lackluster years is immeasurable. 

The support does not stop with the top professional teams, as Portland already hosts a baseball team. The Pickles are a collegiate wood bat team that is a fan-favorite amongst Oregonians’. In 2022, they announced that their attendance was the best they have ever seen in the team’s history.

Portland has also shown longstanding interest in entering the MLB sphere. In 2003, when the Montreal Expos were exploring options to relocate, Portland was in the running and even passed legislation for funding towards their bid, according to Culture Trip. 

Then in 2009, when the MLS was looking to expand, the Portland Timbers were born and, ever since, have seen successful attendance and support from the fanbase. 

Currently, the Portland Diamond Project has been born to convince the league to choose Portland as its destination for relocation. Since 2018, they have performed several charity events sold merchandise, and had locals sign petitions to garner support from state officials. 

The Portland Diamond Project was founded by Craig Cheek, a retired Nike executive who worked most recently for a period of time as the vice president and general manager of Team and Licensed Sport.

They are also invested and co-owned by Russell Wilson and wife Ciara, showing the connection that Portland has with now former key members of Seattle professional sports. 

Potentially the greatest reason that the league should consider expansion to Portland is an entirely different city, Seattle. 

Why would Seattle have an impact?

The answer is simple: the I-5 Rivalry. Mainly seen in the MLS between the Timbers and the Sounders of Seattle, the rivalry has gotten extremely heated in recent years, according to NBC.

With the NFL not looking to come to the City of Roses anytime soon, MLB and one other sport could potentially expand. The other sport is the NBA; with the Trail Blazers being well-established and the support for the return of the Supersonics being strong, another iteration of the I-5 rivalry could be born again.

But two teams with shared rivalries are still not enough; the I-5 rivalry also needs the MLB. 

MLB is losing the animosity that “rivalries” have. The only two that come to mind are the Yankees and Red Sox and the entire league versus the Astros. 

If Portland and Seattle get to go at it, it may be the most heated rivalry in all of baseball being born and for fans, that will bring more eyes to the sport than any other rule change you can dream of. 

All in all, Rob Manfred, this is a call to action. 

Bring MLB to Portland