The Economics Of Going To The Ballpark Should MLB Come To Portland

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I love baseball and absolutely love the idea of an MLB franchise landing in Portland. I think that Portland would support and sustain a team as well as any other city in the nation. With teams such as the Oakland A’s, Tampa Bay Rays, and Arizona Diamondbacks in meddling situations, it is the perfect time for Portland to throw their hat in the ring.

In comes the Portland Diamond Project. The upstart collective has been gaining a lot of steam recently and stealing a lot of headlines. Comprised of great sports minds, and backed by big dollars, the PDP offers the most realistic option to bringing Major League baseball to the Rose City.

The biggest news from PDP in the past few weeks was the addition of Russell Wilson and his wife, Ciara, joining as Investors, and they both pledged to be minority owners once a team does arrive in town.

All of the ingredients are in place, now the city just needs a team.

I have always loved baseball, and have always loved Portland sports. The marriage of the two would be a dream come true for me, along with tens of thousands of fans around the Portland metro area.

The main question on everyone’s minds is… When will we finally get a major league team?

Is this something that will happen in the next few years or this something that is a decade or more away?

While there hasn’t been any clarity given to those questions, we are clearly looking at a serious and professional push to bringing an MLB team to Portland. That is exciting.

While I will be the first in line to reserve a season ticket, I will also be in line for press credentials. It would be so fun to cover the emergence and beginning of a team in this city that embraces all of their teams.

Wednesday I headed north to Seattle to take in a day game in Safeco Field. Until there is a baseball team here in Portland, Seattle will continue to be my baseball escape.

Sitting at the game on a beautiful June day had me thinking about some of the logistics of a Portland baseball team. While innings 1-9 are great fun in the stadium, there are so many more aspects to enjoying a game.

The things that I focused on were location, parking, concessions, and ticket prices.

Location:

There have been three possible locations announced as potential locations; an ESCO-owned parcel of land near NW 23rd Ave., Portland Public Schools’ Headquarters near the Rose Quarter, and a Port of Portland location off of NW Front Ave.

Each location offers different benefits and downfalls. Each location poses difficulties to PDP in their pursuit.

As I sat at the Mariners game on the upper deck just about 1st base I had a great view of the Seattle skyline. I thought about Portland and the picturesque skyline. Views from the stadium would be huge for the franchise.

Since the potential locations were announced I have focused most on the PPS location near the Rose Quarter. It would be an incredible sporting complex for the city. It would have the potential to become a new entertainment district in Portland. Having the Blazers, Winterhawks, and a baseball team in the same vicinity would create logistical nightmares, but would also create an electric atmosphere.

Parking:

The Rose Quarter location would offer a key benefit over the others, it has an easy connection to the MAX lines. That would be something that the Portland stadium would have over the Seattle stadium.

When I went to the game on Wednesday I tried to take advantage of their partnership with Sound Transit Link Line Rail. They advertise two parking lots south of Seattle where you can park for free and then ride the light rail directly to the stadium. I tried both of the parking lots approximately 3 hours before the game and they were both completely full. Like not a spot available.

I then continued to the stadium looking for parking. Parking in the Safeco Garage is $40, with other garages ranging from $20-$40 in the area.

Parking at Blazer games ranges from $10-$25.

The difference between basketball and baseball is 40 games. Meaning, if as management of a baseball team expects people to buy season tickets and attend games regularly, there need to be other options.

Attending 81 home games and paying $40 each game for a parking spot is $3200. For parking. That’s more than an upper-deck season ticket.

Concessions:

This is one that I think that Portland will knock out of the park. The Moda Center has been turned into a Portland foodie haven. The way that the Blazer President Chris McGowan has done that for the stadium is through local favorite restaurants. Killer Burger. Bunk Sandwiches. Sizzle Pie. Salt and Straw.

Safeco Field has some local restaurants as well with Ivar’s, Din Tai Fung, and Jack’s BBQ.

A Portland baseball stadium would have to include local favorites. My early requests would be Buster’s BBQ, Noho’s Hawaiian Café, and Pok Pok. An outfield food cart pod would also be a uniquely Portland concept.

Going to a game you expect to pay more for food than you do outside of the stadium. For a hot dog, a soda, and a beer the average around the league is $15.64 according to statista.com. And after being in Seattle on Wednesday I can easily say that those three items in Seattle would be $10+ more than the league average.

Ticket Prices:

For some going to a game is an annual tradition and for others it is an 81-games-a-year occurrence. Some folks take their families, and some have their corporations pay from their pricey tickets. There is a wide spectrum of budgets heading to the ballpark and the stadium needs to accommodate for that.

Early reports are that a Portland baseball stadium would have a capacity of approximately 32,000. That would make it one of the smallest stadiums in baseball. A lot of people have speculated that would make prices higher than comparable markets, but that would be assuming that management would expect to sell out every night.

Only 9 teams around the league averaged over 32,000 attendance in the 2017 season. Oakland and Tampa Bay, the two most likely teams to move in the next 5 years, each averaged less than 20,000 in 2017.

The average ticket price around the league is approximately $30, according to statista.com. The average ticket in Seattle was $37.33 in Seattle last season.

Ticket prices won’t be as much of a factor if the management of a new Portland baseball team address some of the logistical issues I listed above such as parking, and made the stadium a destination.


When it’s all said and done, it’s hard to go to a game for less than $100 when you factor in parking, food, and tickets. That price increases if you are attending the game as a family. That price multiplies quickly if you purchase season tickets or a multi-game package.

This is not meant to be a downer at all. Baseball is great. Baseball is, and always will be, America’s pastime. Bringing it to Portland would be huge.

A lot of the time when we discuss baseball to Portland we talk about how much it would cost the investment and ownership group to buy a team, how much it is to build a stadium, and how likely all of this really is. We forget at times about the economics of going to the ballpark.

If you’re a baseball fan and haven’t been keeping up with Portland Diamond Project, now’s the time to get on board.

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Garrett Thornton

Garrett has been a Senior Writer for Oregon Sports News for 4 years. In that time Garrett has primarily covered the Portland Trail Blazers. He has also started his series "Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton", picking NFL games against the spread. Along with his coverage of the Blazers and NFL, Garrett covers Oregon Ducks football. 

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