Due to the existence of petitions and social media accounts that yearn for the presence of the pigskin within Oregon, the idea of giving up on football as a major sport may not be a popular one. After all, Portland has welcomed an NFL team into its midst before, when the Portland Breakers joined the city’s other sports teams in 1983. They hadn’t been welcomed in Boston or New Orleans, though, and Portland ultimately served as more of a tomb for the franchise than a new home.
As a thought experiment, a fictional expansion team called the Portland Pinots has been dreamed up recently. However, a number of very real hurdles stand in the way of this development. For one, pro football will empty every coffer and piggybank in town, as funds for the necessary infrastructure almost invariably comes from taxpayers’ pockets. Finding a public owner for any stadium is, therefore, an essential task.
Having said all that, a poll conducted by Oregon Live in 2015 revealed that NFL is the most requested sport by Oregonians, with 42.67% of the vote, ahead of MLB (29.18%), NHL (23.08%), and none (5.07%). The latter option emphasized the nature of Portland as the domain of the Blazers – and only the Blazers. In the same breath, though, Oregon Live couldn’t think of anything to say in support of adding a new NFL team and stadium to the state.
University of Oregon Ducks
Of course, it’d be unfair to talk about football in Oregon without mentioning the UoO Ducks. In 2021, the college football team produced five new talents now bound for the NFL, including first-round pick Penei Sewell and Deommodore Lenoir. Overall, these former Ducks will now play for Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, and Chicago Bears. Not a bad output for a state with no NFL team of its own.
Support for the NFL within the state is arguably inflated by the presence of sports betting fans dedicated to the sport. The How to Bet website reveals that Oregon is one of eighteen states in the US that allows its residents to bet on NFL games, alongside neighboring states Washington and Nevada. Even though there isn’t a local team, Oregonian fans can bet on the Draft and pre-season, as well as more specific occurrences like the winner of the Super Bowl. So, NFL betting is directed out-of-state, which seems like a bit of a shame.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has Portland on his shortlist for an expansion team but, much like the NFL, previous efforts to put baseball on the Oregon map have resulted in failure. On that occasion, the Portland Beavers simply couldn’t find anywhere to live in the city. Overall, Oregon’s efforts to bring in more pro teams are usually failed by the state itself, whether due to funding issues, lack of infrastructure investment, or the influence of businessmen like the Blazers’ late Paul Allen.
It’s not quite a pipedream for Oregonians but a Portland NFL franchise seems unlikely. With the Ducks nearby, though, there’s still plenty of quality football going on in the state.