Mayor Ted Wheeler is throwing his weight behind Portland’s recent Diamond Project proposal to turn the struggling Lloyd Center into a baseball stadium.
As the group behind a years-long effort to bring Major League Baseball’s Zeros to Oregon’s largest city in the Northeast Mall as a potential stadium location, Wheeler and his staff are willing to help cement the deal, according to documents obtained Thursday by The Oregonian/OregonLive. Through a public records request.
The city has agreed to explore several avenues to support the proposal, and recent emails show an exchange between Bobby Lee, Wheeler’s chief of staff, and Craig Chick, founder and president of the Portland Diamond Project.
Among them is creating a new urban regeneration district in the area, providing nearby Holliday Park as part of the stadium development footprint and pouring money into transportation infrastructure upgrades.
According to the documents, Wheeler and his office believe the prospect of attracting a Major League Baseball team to Central City could spur a vision of a comprehensive redevelopment of a sports and entertainment district that would include Lloyd’s District, Rose Quarter and the Alpina neighborhood, potentially spurring the construction of thousands of new housing units.
Records also show that the baseball conglomerate has offered $30 million to buy RedTail Golf Course in Beaverton, which the city of Portland owns, as a backup option should the momentum behind the Lloyd Center proposal fade or collapse.
While the negotiations represent the most serious discussions the group and the City of Portland have had in the past three years, any future deal remains uncertain and hinges on a series of factors outside of either party’s control.
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
In a statement, Cheek provided some additional details.
“We are well aware of and sensitive to the fact that any news regarding the Portland Diamond project, and its vision of bringing Major League Baseball to the region, will be of interest to residents, fans, elected officials, and the business community in the area,” he said.
“We can tell you that we are really still a way forward, with the help of many key partners in the public and private sectors.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Bill Oram contributed to this report.
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