Beavers Go Tits Up: Say Goodbye to Baseball in Portland

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Minor league baseball in Portland, Oregon, it turns out, is no match for Major League Soccer. The San Diego Padres' Triple-A affiliate in the upper Northwest, the Portland Beavers, played their final game of the season and their final game ever at PGE Park yesterday, a 6-5 victory over the Las Vegas 51's. And now, like a delusional unemployed man with a taste for Listerine and turpentine, they are homeless.

The team had been playing at PGE Park, formerly Multnomah Stadium, since 1956. But since Portland was rewarded with an MLS team last year, the Portland Timbers, the ball field will be converted permanently to a soccer pitch and there will be no more baseball played there. So why couldn't the Beavers find another joint in Portland to continue to field a pro baseball team?

Two words: historical preservation. Portland, nor any city, really, is not in the position to go throwing cash money around to build a new ballpark for a Triple-A team, so the best option would have been to convert Memorial Coliseum, the old venue for the NBA's Trailblazers, into a baseball stadium. No dice. The Coliseum, which is barely 50 years old and now plays host to minor league hockey and skateboarding expositions, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by a bunch of terrorist anti-baseball nerds. Look at this gorgeous example of modern architecture and tell me how you could allow it to be torn down or converted:

Portlandmemorialcoliseum.jpg

So what if it looks like a suburban office complex or some run-of-the-mill airport terminal? The Davis Cup final was played there in 2007! Ralph Nader once had a political rally in that building! Local high schools hold their graduation ceremonies in that hollowed glass-and-steel structure! You can't play baseball there!

On a more serious note, the city of Portland is smart for not falling all over itself to throw money, free rent, and tax breaks at a baseball team and build an entirely new ballpark. This probably hinders any chance that MLB will ever expand to Portland but I'm sure all the Portland hipsters with their organic beets riding on their fixies can only shrug at the possibility anyway.

The Beavers will be okay: owner Merritt Paulson is looking to sell to a group of investors who want to relocate to Southern California, specifically Escondido. For now, the last memory they'll have is the exact same lady throwing out the exact same ball from both the first game ever at PGE Park and the last.


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6 Comments

This is evidence that the city of Portland hates America.

Here's a dumb question from an uninformed schmo, why didn't the Portland Timbers build their own damn stadium?
It's just a FIELD w/ 2 nets fachrissakes!
Soccer hooligans running a BASEBALL TEAM OFF THEIR OWN FIELD
I propose a showdown btwn the Beavers and the Timbers!
Go America!

Shouldn't the Beavers be re-located to Van Nuys?

This was a colossal failure by the mayor, since converting Memorial Coliseum would have been relatively cheap and would have revitalized a section of town that is a dead zone unless the Blazers or Taylor Swift are performing. The Blazers helped submarine this behind the scenes, it should be mentioned--they will not tolerate any threat to their hold on the city.

One thing that's not been mentioned much in the postmortem, is the city's attitude toward minor league ball ever since it looked like a possibility that we would land a major league team. It's true that this place is full of beet-carrying hipsters, but the television ratings for Mariners games are often among the highest in all of MLB for non-team markets. I just think that people don't consider their town to be a minor league town anymore, so they no longer care as much about having a minor league team.

What is a red herring is the argument that we have too many bike lanes, etc. and that baseball was not a priority. There is no rule that you can't have a transit- and bike-friendly city, with a nice ballpark, too.

The Davis Cup final was played there in 2007! Ralph Nader once had a political rally in that building! Local high schools hold their graduation ceremonies in that hollowed glass-and-steel structure! You can't play baseball there!

Don't forget that the Beatles played there in 1965! That was a legitimate argument I was given about why the Coliseum should still stand, and it blew my mind.

There is no need for the Coliseum to exist at this point. All of the events there could be easily absorbed by the Rose Garden next door - look at the Staples Center. It hosts three basketball teams, a hockey team, and dozens of other events and does it without problem. As does the Wachovia Center in Philly.

The Blazers say that they want year-round activity in the Rose Quarter. I guess they don't understand that baseball is played when basketball is not, thus giving them year-round activity.

As a Beaver season ticket holder since 2006, I am tremendously depressed and angry right now - depressed that for the first time in my adult life I now live in a town without baseball, and angry at the 15,000 people that showed up to weep and rend garments yesterday at the loss of the Beavers who never once showed up at any time in the last several years when it would have mattered.

With the advent of the Portland Beavers leaving Portland at the end of the 2010 season everyone is asking what will happen to baseball in Portland next season (2011). The Northwest Independent Baseball League has the answer.

Come see Semi-professional baseball played with local teams and players form the Portland's and Vancouver area. Fourteen teams play baseball from May through August at Walker and Sckavone Stadiums (see schedule at NWIBL.ORG) in Southeast Portland. Teams consist of players with High School, College, and Professional experience and are looking for local sponsorship.

The 2011 seasons looks for the league to expand with up to 4 new teams (Portland Yankees, Westmoreland Red Sox, the Stumptown Bee's, and the Vaughn Street Brewers). Players within the two divisions can continue their passion playing base ball at the highest level. Players follow modified MLB rules, using wood bats.

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