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Baseball chase takes a new twist

by: , MARTIN

We've heard little about it lately, but things are happening under the radar with the idea of one day bringing major league baseball to Portland.

Three years ago, Senate Bill 5 appropriated $150 million through visiting team players' income tax for construction of a new stadium. The step didn't land the Montreal Expos, who moved to Washington, D.C., nor was it enough to attract the Florida Marlins when they made overtures about leaving Miami.

The Portland Baseball Group remains an entity, and members still hope milquetoast Mayor Tom Potter can be persuaded that major league baseball would benefit the city.

For now, the city of Portland is the only negotiating entity with a potential owner. But members are working with legislators on a potential new bill for the January 2007 legislative session that would include other area governmental bodies - perhaps Multnomah County officials, or Clark County in Southwest Washington - that might be more enthusiastic about helping land a big league club.

'Nothing has been drafted at the state level, but if we get the right proposition in front of us, it's in Oregon's interest to ensure we have as many folks we could get to the table as possible,' says Ryan Deckert, the state senator from Beaverton who co-sponsored Senate Bill 5 three years ago. 'If an owner is really interested, you hate to limit yourself to one person. We just want to take a look at that.'

Portland Baseball Group President Steve Kanter says in another year he expects at least one major league team to move. He and others have worked to put together a stadium financing plan to be ready for any opportunity.

A $400 million stadium project would include the $150 million in state money, $125 million in ticket and parking surcharges near the ballpark, and $50 million to $75 million from the new owner. The rest would be the result of creative financing that group members say wouldn't come out of public coffers.

'The mayor has expressed, to put it mildly, his skepticism, and in some cases his opposition,' says Kanter, an attorney who teaches law at Lewis and Clark. 'But I believe if we can get to the merits of major league baseball in a community, we can persuade anyone who's doubting. I won't give up on Portland, but I have always thought it is not a one-government deal. The counties need to be involved; regional government needs to be involved. For this thing to work, we have to have a true partnership at all levels.'

• The despondent, threatening teenager who was shot and killed by police outside his home near Tigard in the wee hours last Saturday while brandishing a knife wasn't the young man Frank Geske had known.

Lukus Glenn, 18, was a two-time all-Pac-9 Conference kicker at Tigard High who played his junior year for Geske.

'Luke was a great kid,' says Geske, now an assistant coach at Portland State. 'He was a soccer player who wound up concentrating on football full time in high school. He broke a bunch of school records and kicked a ton of field goals. His work ethic was unreal. That kid was always on the field with his mom shagging balls for him. If I went there at 5:30 in the morning, he was out there with his mom.'

Glenn had spoken with Geske about enrolling at Portland State and turning out for football next spring.

'Both of our kickers are seniors this season, so there was an opportunity for Luke,' Geske says. 'I'd talked to him just a couple of weeks ago about it. I'm stunned. It just ain't right.'

• Final word (let's hope) on Refgate:

1) I'm still in favor of instant replay in college football. In the vast majority of cases, it corrects an injustice or confirms the correct on-field call. Nobody likes the disruption to the flow of the game, but that's the price you pay.

2) No matter what angle replay official Gordon Riese was looking at, I don't understand how he couldn't see an Oregon player touching the ball nine yards downfield on the onside kick.

3) Nobody can accuse Oregon alum Dan Fouts of bias in his play-by-play. The Hall of Fame quarterback, a devout Duck, played it down the middle during the entire broadcast and called foul on the onside-kick call. A career analyst, Fouts proved he can handle play-by-play duties just fine.

• Casey Martin tackles his fourth and final Nationwide Tour event of 2006 this weekend in the Oregon Classic at Junction City's Shadow Hills Country Club.

'I don't know how I'll do,' says Martin, the longtime pro and first-year coach at the University of Oregon. 'I've been playing with my guys a little bit and I can hang with them, but compared to the top players in the world … it should be interesting.'

Martin didn't make a cut in his first three Nationwide events this year, 'but I feel like I've played OK at times,' he says. 'I'm going to play like I always do this weekend and hope for the best. But really, I'm just a washed-up coach now.'

Oregon's first fall tournament is Monday and Tuesday at Auburn, Wash., 'and I'm excited about that,' Martin says.

The Ducks finished 10th last spring, so there's nowhere to go but up. Regulars Joey Benedetti, Derek Sipe and Matt Ma will be joined by Los Angeles recruit Marcus Sostak in '07.