Major league bids up to us
TWO VIEWS • Major league baseball gets another at-bat
While growing up in Portland, I heard the stories of my dad and his friends sneaking into Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Every time Fox Saturday Baseball flashed an old 'bum' Ñ Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe or Duke Snider Ñ sitting quietly in his club-level seat, Dad would perk up in his recliner and say, 'I remember when É,' at which point he would tell me about how he and his friend Dick Ward would climb the ballpark fence and watch the game by peering through the bleachers. My dad saw Bobby Thomson hit the 'Giants win the pennant!' home run at the Polo Grounds (1951), and the last pitch of the seventh game in 1955, when the 'Bums' won it all.
Unfortunately, my stories for my own children include that I was at the Blazer game when Bonzi Wells flipped off sections 121, 221 and 321.
Baseball memories have skipped over another generation of Portlanders, but lots of hard work to change that proves there is no better time than now to bring major league baseball to the city. Now all those people who support MLB in Portland need to start voicing their opinions. Then we wouldn't have to worry about the mayor telling the Florida Marlins' ownership group he has a 'very strong sense' that most Portlanders don't care about getting a major league baseball team.
To the contrary, Portlanders do care about getting an MLB team. A May 2004 poll conducted by the Portland Tribune and KOIN (6) found they favor getting a team 67 percent to 30 percent.
Mayor Tom Potter further dismissed baseball in Portland, saying, 'My concern is that Portland is facing a crisis in education. É That's my top priority, to find funding for that.' Potter needs to know that people who support his priority of education also support MLB in Portland. And, amazingly enough, the same thing the mayor shunned publicly could be the answer to the education-funding crisis.
Baseball could provide the income that Portland Ñ and its schools Ñ need. Oregon's unemployment rate has ranked high in the past five years. If people are not making money at work, then they are not generating any taxes to help with the 'education crisis.' An MLB franchise would give the job rate a much-needed boost.
Building an MLB stadium would not take away money from public schools. The Oregon Legislature approved $150 million in state bonds to be applied toward building a stadium in Portland. The $150 million would come from MLB players' and managers' salaries. So baseball fans, MLB in Portland will only cost you the price of a ticket.
Many Oregonians fear our metro area could not fill the seats game after game. I used to agree. But, according to the Census' 2004 estimate, Portland is the nation's 24th largest metropolitan area, the largest without big league baseball. An ESPN.com poll finds 72 percent of Portlanders follow major league baseball, and 16 percent name baseball as their favorite sport. Both statistics are higher than you'll find in other cities without their own team.
Even last fall's somewhat boring World Series recorded a 13.7 TV rating here, the sixth highest rating in the country.
Baseball memories are waiting to be made in the Portland area. Getting a team is a proactive way to jump-start the state and bring it back together.
Andrew Propst lives in Southwest Portland, not far from PGE Park. He hopes to one day walk to major league baseball games at PGE Park and eventually at a new stadium.