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MLB Ballpark improvement disputes may provide more targets for Portland Diamond Project

As the Portland Diamond Project continues to close in on a location for a site for its mixed-use development that would include a major-league ballpark as its centerpiece, the list of potential targets for a team in Portland may be growing.

Two existing major-league cities are in the process of attempting to get government funding for ballpark improvements. Part of negotiations for such things almost always comes down to teams threatening to leave their stadiums for something better.

And as the PDP gains increasing credibility as a future destination for a team, expect this city to be used as leverage in negotiations in other cities with stadium issues. It's beyond the control of the Diamond Project and simply the way these things tend to play out.

And that may not be a bad thing for Portland. Not all those teams will get what they want and at a certain point, they may have their bluff called – and decide to move. And at the same time, any city providing leverage for existing teams would be looked upon favorably by Major League Baseball as a future expansion site.

To date, it was presumed that Portland has four opportunities for procuring a team – the two potential expansion franchises and the troubled franchises in Oakland and Tampa.

But don’t be surprised to hear this city mentioned as a possible relocation site for the Arizona Diamondbacks and – what? – the Seattle Mariners.

There are serious stadium-improvement issues with the latter teams.

In Seattle, the team’s lease at Safeco Field expires at the end of this season and the Mariners are asking King County for a substantial sum for ballpark improvements.

The Seattle Mariners have issued an ultimatum: Give them $180 million in taxpayer money for their 19-year-old stadium, or they won’t sign a long-term lease.

And in Phoenix, the Diamondbacks have already negotiated their way out of  longer-term lease to one that expires in 2022 – coincidentally a year when it’s figured the Portland ballpark would be ready for occupancy.

The Arizona Diamondbacks can leave Chase Field and end the team's 20-year residence at the downtown Phoenix stadium as early as 2022, Maricopa County leaders decided Wednesday.

The expectation is that both disputes will be settled without relocation of the franchises... but faced with a lucrative option in a fresh city, it would be difficult to know what to expect from ownership of those teams.

PDP leaders have promised that they will use no public money for stadium construction other than what has already been set aside by the Oregon state legislature.

The ballpark in Portland is expected to include a large-scale mixed-use development that includes housing, entertainment and dining options and hotels. The Diamond Peoject is still looking at multiple sites but is expected to make a decision on a location soon.