Portland has so much to offer. The Columbia River Gorge, the Portland Art Museum, the Japanese Garden, and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers.
What Portland doesn’t have is a second pro team in one of the four major North American sports leagues.
The truth of the matter is, the NFL is never coming to Portland, and hockey in the Pacific Northwest has never worked out (good luck, Kraken!) What Portland could and should have is a Major League Baseball team.
This scenario is a dream for many Portland natives, but it is actually closer than many people realize. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is looking to expand the league in the coming seasons and, rumor has it, that Portland is near the top of the list.
Here’s why Portland should have an MLB team.
The city has proven it can support a top professional team
Exhibit 1 shows that Portland should have an MLB team is the Trail Blazers. Since 2008, the Blazers have been in the top 10 in attendance in the NBA. In 2009-2012, the team finished in the top three each season.
In addition to regular season support, have you ever been to the Moda Center for a Blazers playoff game? It’s insane! Portland fans support their team as well as any team in the NBA and better than most. There is no reason to think this same allegiance wouldn’t apply to an MLB team.
The team would have a natural rival in the Seattle Mariners
In 2021, the MLB thrives off regional rivalries. The New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs vs. St Louis Cardinals, New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies, and more recently, the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres are the rivalries that drive national interest in the league.
Adding a Portland team (ideally in the American League) would create a Pacific Northwest rivalry between the Oregon expansion and Seattle Mariners. This would not only be good for the league but good for the Mariners, too, who have never had a geographic rival. The closest team is the Oakland A’s, 800 miles away.
Portland is passionate about regional niche pro sports teams
Baseball is no longer America’s pastime. It just isn’t. The national sport is now football, followed by basketball, followed by fighting about politics on social media. Baseball in the 21st century has been relegated to a niche regional sport. It is probably the most popular niche regional sport, but it is one nonetheless.
No one in the country does niche regional sports like Portland! The Portland Timbers drew 25,218 fans per game in 2019, good for fourth in the MLS. The Portland Thorns drew 20,098 per game that same year, good for first place in the NWSL and double the fans that the second-place Utah Royals drew.
The Portland metro area deserves another top-level major professional sports league team, and an MLB franchise makes the most sense. Portland supports the Blazers, would make a good rival for Seattle, and kills it with the Timbers and Thorns. It’s time for Manfred and MLB to bring a new team to PDX!