The song and dance of the Puffer Fish, er, baseball in the suburbs has begun, as negotiations have continued in earnest out in Beaverton. The mayor, Denny Doyle, has made the rounds to sports radio, appearing on 95.5 The Game last week, negotiating in public to say that he wants a deal where both the city and Merritt Paulson contribute funds to the stadium equally, and generally trying to get this idea off the ground. There are 3 sites being considered, but only one is publicly known, the site of the old Westgate Theater. And the owner of nearby property isn't interested in selling or being part of any idea to bring baseball there, especially if the land isn't big enough to put a stadium there and they need adjoining property for other things.
The talk out there hasn't gotten nearly as contentious as negotiations ever got in Portland city proper, as talk around Memorial Coliseum and Lents Park was completely out of control at points. Opponents of the MC deal didn't want an architectural treasure (their words) destroyed, while Lents Park residents aren't sure what they want. Seriously, after all these months, I'm still not convinced they understand what a ballpark would have done for the area, but then again, I don't think Portland as a whole realizes what is going on here if the team heads west. And if the only hurdle in Beaverton is a land owner who is worried about losing some potential profits on his part, I think you can already pack up the bats and gloves and move baseball west.
It's nice to see a community get what is going on here, and is thinking progressively about what they want now and in the future. Sports and cities can work together well, and provide good benefit economically and socially to an area if it's done right, and what you will see with the upgraded PGE Park is evidence of that idea in action. Soccer and football events will flock to the area, and you will have a park that the city can be proud of. That isn't to say that PGE Park isn't an asset now, but it's simply a park that is trying to be too many things to too many sports, and it's time to choose the long term identity. Soccer and football make sense there, and now we can watch it transform into something truly special. I'm interested to see what happens with the changes, the naming rights (PGE is only paid up through 2010 for naming rights), and the plans for MLS in 2011. It's going to be a load of fun, and with that, I'm also looking forward to opening night baseball in 2011 for the Beavers. They deserve a home in a city that wants them, and it appears Beaverton wants them. It's too bad that most of the people in power in Portland don't realize what they are letting get away.