Forbes announces Portland Diamond Project MLB site selection and architect collaboration, TVA Architects with Populous.

By Maury Brown

The investor effort looking to eventually lure Major League Baseball to Portland made a significant step forward on Thursday.

The group called the Portland Diamond Project announced that they have an agreement in principle with the Port of Portland for land north of downtown Portland that is suitable for a 32,000-34,000 seat MLB ballpark, as well as ancillary development. The location of the site sits on the Willamette River, would face toward Portland’s Fremont Bridge, and would have a retractable roof.

The 45-acre Terminal 2 location site has been controlled by the Port and is located in an industrial part of Portland that is slowly seeing development edge northward toward it. The location has ample to space to host a ballpark and additional development, but there has been speculation that an adjacent parcel called Terminal 1 could also be in play at some point. The two together would provide more than 88 acres. If the ballpark plans were to come to fruition, it and the associated development would anchor one of the largest development areas in Portland since the South Waterfront district.

“We believe this has the potential to be a transformative landmark project for this city,” said Craig Cheek, head of Portland Diamond Project. “Building an iconic, state-of-the-art ballpark along the Willamette River will catalyze economic development and capture great views of both the urban scale of the city and regional character of the Pacific Northwest.”


The envisioned ballpark design by Portland-based TVA Architects who are partnered with Populous would see the roof retract completely away from the main structure allowing for unobstructed views. As part of the initial design, an outdoor amphitheater surrounded by water would allow for concerts and other events. With ballpark on the water, the use of water taxis and allowing for boats to be moored next to the ballpark would be possible.

“We’re committed to building a sustainable, equitable, and accessible ballpark that reflects what makes Portland such a special place to live,” Cheek said. “That means outstanding locally sourced food and beverage amenities, environmentally sustainable construction and operations, opportunities for makers and small businesses, and an atmosphere that celebrates diversity and inclusion and is welcoming to all Portlanders.”

The location is not without challenges. Environmental impact study would need to take place, and the site is far removed from any public transportation, sans a single bus route. Still, there is early support for the effort.

“Baseball has a rich tradition in Portland. A ballpark along the northwest bank of the Willamette River would have a positive impact on our economy while shaping the next great Portland neighborhood,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “I look forward to working with Portland Diamond Project and the Port of Portland in moving this initiative forward.”


With the land purchase, the effort to bring MLB to Portland has moved them to the forefront of conversations around Major League Baseball. In terms of relocation, the Oakland A’s announced plans to build a new ballpark at their Howard Terminal location and redevelop the current location of the Oakland Coliseum on Wednesday, however the club has yet to secure the land. The league is now focused on getting the long sought after new ballpark in Tampa Bay rolling. Baseball has said that after those issues are resolved, expanding to 32 teams is something Commissioner Rob Manfred has said is a goal given that he sees baseball as a growth industry. Should either the A’s or Rays ballpark plans collapse, it is possible that Portland could be seen as a fallback option.

As to funding, the Portland Diamond Project has said that the ballpark would be privately funded. Questions still remain about who would bear the burden for infrastructure costs. And then there’s the possibility of a staggering expansion fee, should Portland become part of the 32-team vision for the league. Given the recent $1.2 billion sale of the Miami Marlins, those fees could range from $800 million to $1 billion. That on top of the ballpark cost that could touch $1 billion. As to who the wealthy partners are they have yet to be announced. Only former Nike Exec VP Cheek, Mike Barrett who called Blazer games, Russell Wilson of the Seahawks, and his wife and entertainment star Ciara Wilson are the core visible components of Portland Diamond Project. And yet, repeatedly, the group has said that their other silent investors that will be announced at critical points along the way, have the financial wherewithal to fund the massive endeavor.

Finally, an effort such as this is not done in a vacuum. Certainly, those at Major League Baseball must be fully aware of the efforts. Time will tell if they step forward with something concrete for PDP to signal they can begin construction of the ballpark. The group has made it clear that this is not a “build it, and they will come,” project.