A management group has been working quietly behind the scenes for more than a year on a plan to bring major-league baseball and a stadium development to Portland.
The spokesman for the group, and a managing partner, is the former television voice of the Trail Blazers, Mike Barrett.
“There is a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative,” Barrett said Tuesday. “We will keep you fully apprised of any and all developments as this project progresses.”
Barrett, who did not identify anyone else in the group, said they prefer to operate behind the scenes at this time but are pursuing a "smart and careful approach" and "doing it exactly the right way,"
Barrett was known for his work in basketball, particularly his play-by-play duties with the Trail Blazers, which began in the 2003-2004 season and ended after the 2015-16 season. But he was also an all-state pitcher at West Albany High School and is a lifelong baseball fan.
“After the Trail Blazers, I was weighing several opportunities but I didn’t want to leave the area,” Barrett said. “And when I was approached by this group, with a chance to help bring major-league baseball to my home state, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.”
Portland began to sneak into conversations about MLB expansion during the last year or so. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred mentioned the city recently during an interview in Seattle, saying Portland would be “on a list” for expansion, emphasizing a need for a team in the Pacific time zone as part of a expanded and reconfigured 32-team league.
In a story published this week in Baseball America, well-connected Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby outlined a 32-team expanded MLB with realignment that resulted in a 156-game schedule and four eight-team divisions, with Portland listed in the West division.
Ringolsby referred to Portland as a city with a “legitimate” ownership group, which is the group Barrett is associated with:
“And there is a legitimate ownership group in Portland that has the necessary financing along with support for a stadium, which would be partially funded by a $150 million grant. Approved by the state of Oregon to help finance a stadium when efforts were underway in 2003 to be the site for the relocation of the Expos (who instead moved to Washington, D.C.), the grant is still available.”