Portland Business Journal writer Jon Bell writes news article, announcing the Portland Diamond Project development deal and Major League Baseball stadium plans.

By Jon Bell


Portland Diamond Project strikes deal to develop riverfront stadium at port terminal (Renderings)

The Portland Diamond Project on Thursday announced plans to build a Major League Baseball stadium on the banks of the Willamette River after striking a development deal with the Port of Portland.

The organization also released the first images of the proposed ballpark that it hopes will occupy the port’s 45-acre Terminal 2 property on Northwest Front Avenue, just north of the Pearl District and Slabtown neighborhoods. The images are by Portland’s TVA Architects and Populous of Kansas City.

“We believe this has the potential to be a transformative landmark project for this city,” Craig Cheek, a former top Nike Inc. executive and president of the Portland Diamond Project, said in a news release. “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 group has “an agreement in principle” with the port, which would make PDP the master developer of the property, secured by a long-term lease, according to PDP spokesman John McIsaac.

Terminal 2 is an industrial site on the river at 3556 N.W. Front Ave. The port has previously marketed the site as ideal for a range of shipping needs, from forest products and steel to ship-to-rail transfer. The site is also currently home to six tenants, all of whom have current lease termination dates of either later this year or mid-2019, though some leases may have extension options that could be exercised.

The Terminal 2 announcement comes a few weeks after the PDP formally withdrew its $80 million offer for the Portland Public Schools headquarters site near the Rose Quarter. The group also put an offer in on the former ESCO property in Northwest Portland, but that sold instead to a group of local developers in June.

“For the past year, we’ve been highly focused on securing the best possible property for development of a ballpark and have deeply analyzed multiple sites,” Cheek said in a news release. “Although additional options continue to present themselves, we are excited to announce that Terminal 2 is our preferred location and want to thank the Port of Portland for being such a great partner in this vision.”

The organization didn’t provide any details about the proposed stadium, such as its capacity, cost or how it would be financed. It only released renderings, which show an open-air ballpark with views of Mt. Hood and the Fremont Bridge, an aerial tram, an entertainment plaza, a bike accessible section in the outfield and additional commercial and pedestrian development along the riverfront.

It’s not clear if PDP aims to acquire other properties near Terminal 2 for either the stadium or its larger vision of creating a mixed-use development nearby. The 24 acres next to Terminal 2 along the river to the southeast are owned by two private owners. Adjacent to those properties is the 14.5-acre Terminal 1 property that the port sold to Lithia Motors in 2017. PDP has been in discussions with Lithia about the site.

The news is a significant step in PDP’s quest to bring a team to town, but there’s still plenty of heavy lifting to be done. Stadium construction alone could cost close to $1 billion, and securing a team — either an expansion franchise or relocating an existing one — could be about the same.

In addition, the Terminal 2 site is currently zoned industrial; changing that could be a complicated process. Mass transit in the area is also fairly limited.

The Portland Diamond Project also hasn’t said much about how acquisition of a franchise or construction of the stadium would be financed. So far, its only identified investors are Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, the pop star Ciara.

In its news release, the PDP said the deal with the port kicks off “a collaborative process” with the city and local communities to develop a Major League Baseball stadium and community destination.

“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.”