TVA is working with Restore Oregon to incorporate the famous Jantzen Beach Carousel into TVA’s master plan of the new MLB Portland Diamond Project.

By John Canzano

Comerica Park — home of the Detroit Tigers — has a carousel featuring two chariots and 30 hand-painted tigers behind the first-base area. Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium has a carousel, too. It’s become a ballpark thing, probably because families seem to love them both.

So forgive me for taking more than a passing interest in the news conference scheduled at noon today in Southeast Portland where Mayor Ted Wheeler, a restoration nonprofit, philanthropists and the Portland Diamond Project are expected to reveal the details of a new carousel partnership.

The famous C.W. Parker Four-Row Park Carousel has been in storage for some time. Maybe you know it better as “The Jantzen Beach Carousel” and you might have even ridden the thing as a kid. My wife remembers climbing on one of the horses as a 9-year-old during Rose Festival, looking up at Parker’s handmade work and thinking, “this is big, amazing and beautiful.”

I’m hoping your children will one day get to ride it in front of a Major League Baseball stadium in Portland. But that’s getting way ahead. Because this column — and this day — is mostly about the spinning journey of this 116-year-old carousel.

It’s been on some ride, hasn’t it?

Built for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, moved to Venice Beach where it operated in the 1920s, and later, sold to the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park, which later became a shopping center. Then, thrown in storage. Then, missing for a while, until it was revealed that the mall owner sold the thing to a real estate company. Then, it landed in the hands of Restore Oregon, a nonprofit that aims to restore the carousel to its magnificent glory.

That project took money, though.

Also, because of its massive size, it needed a location — a building.

That’s when the Portland Diamond Project surfaced with financial support. One of the group’s charter investors, husband and wife Harvey and Sandy Platt, also made a significant philanthropic contribution. Platt, the former CEO of Platt Electric, is a Portland-born kid. He knows and loves that carousel and rode it as a kid alongside his grandmother.

Platt’s childhood recollection?

“Ice cream,” he said, “and no worries.”

It’s not a surprise that the Platt family, the city, a restoration nonprofit and the MLB to PDX effort have found common ground. I’m just hoping this all goes where I think the carousel would work the best — out front of a new ballpark on the waterfront someday.

In a larger statement, the Platt family said:

“As parents and grandparents, over the years we have watched families come together and enjoy two great bonding experiences: A day at the amusement park featuring a vintage carousel, and a day at the ballpark watching our favorite team. Unlike a lot of other ‘popular’ activities, both offer the time to enjoy, carry on a conversation, and create a lasting memory. We are now very fortunate to have the opportunity to support both of these great family activities.”

The Portland Diamond Project’s interest in this is a fascinating element. Given the scope of their development plan, their mission to either to bring an MLB team to Portland via expansion or relocation, and $1.5 billion in financial commitments, we’ve all taken them seriously.

But like that carousel and us all, time marches against it.

The diamond project needs momentum, including traction in the MLB world. Oakland’s stadium conundrum is part of this. So are plans from baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to expand his league. The MLB to PDX effort needs to be able to outlast those stalls while retaining its valuable financial commitments.

The Portland Diamond Project has secured land rights and commissioned studies and stadium renderings. They’ve met with Manfred’s team. They’ve printed T-shirts and bumper stickers and gathered nearly 50,000 signatures on their MLB to PDX petition. And now, it looks like the project just might have a world-famous carousel for its proposed ballpark.

Every horse on the carousel needs to be restored — by hand. And that will take time. Also, the restored carousel will need a new building to house it and land to sit on. But I can’t wait to see kids ride it again.