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The Delta Dome: How close Portland came to being a big-league city

The Delta Dome: How close Portland came to being a big-league city

Editor's Note: Tune in to The Bridge, tonight at 6pm for more on baseball in Portland including the Delta Dome history, updates on the Hillsboro Hops as well as the Portland Diamond Project!

Do you ever get frustrated that Portland doesn’t have an NFL team? A major-league baseball team?

Well, let me tell you how close we came to having both, way back decades ago –- back at a time when even politicians were on board for an exciting Portland sports future.

It was 1964 and the Houston Astrodome was being built and everyone knew that at some point, major-league sports had to come to the Pacific Northwest. And didn't a domed stadium seem like the right way to get them?

Seattle and Portland were on equal sports footing at that time – minor-league baseball franchises in the Pacific Coast League and minor-league hockey in the Western Hockey League. Seattle was still three years away from landing the NBA Sonics.

The idea of a domed stadium was originally part of a plan for a Portland bid to host the summer Olympics, which in those days was still an affordable plan. The centerpiece of that bid was a domed stadium in Delta Park, north of Portland, surrounded by a myriad of other sporting venues.

Eventually, when it was apparent the Olympic bid was  going nowhere, people began to get the idea of chasing pro football and major-league baseball – beating Seattle to the punch.

Then-governor Mark Hatfield and Portland mayor Terry Shrunk were behind the proposal and pushed hard for it and a hastily put-together campaign began -- to get a ballot measure passed in the city to fund what was then a $25-million project.

The 46,000-seat stadium would feature a dome that would be plexiglass and would not enclose the stadium – just cover it. There was to be a breezeway between the roof and the seating area, meaning it would not have been climate controlled. Still, for its time, it was a very innovative project.

Even better, there was a very real possibility of big-league sports being lured to Portland.

The American Football League Oakland Raiders were still uncertain about their future in that city and the prevailing rumor was that their youthful general manager, Al Davis, was ready to load the moving van and bring the team to Portland if the local ballot measure passed.

Believe it or not, in 1964 that didn’t bring about a whole lot of excitement. Nobody knew at that time the AFL, behind Davis as its commissioner, would force a merger and become part of the NFL. In fact, the NFL wasn’t even that big of a deal in those days.

There was also hope for a major-league baseball team because there were franchises in trouble and rumors of expansion.

Sadly – for sports fans at least – the ballot measure failed in Portland by fewer than 10,000 votes. Later, the same measure was put up for a vote in Multnomah County and failed by about the same margin.

Seattle, of course, landed the MLB Pilots in 1969 and they played in tiny Sicks’ Stadium, the Triple-A ballpark. That team left after one season and Seattle didn’t get an NFL or big-league baseball team until after the Kingdome was built in 1976.

I’m convinced Portland could have beaten Seattle into both leagues with that dome.

And that ballot measure should have passed in Portland, by the way, but mistakes were made.

First off, the advocates didn’t do a very good job of convincing Portlanders that big-league teams could be lured to the stadium, But history shows they probably could have – a domed stadium would have been impossible for expansion-minded NFL and MLB owners to pass up.

Yes, even in those days, it was difficult to convince the locals we could actually become a big-league city.

The biggest reason for the measure’s defeat, though, was the location. First of all, it would have been better to get the stadium measure passed without naming a location.

Delta Park was too much to overcome. The fact that 1964 was fewer than 20 years after the Vanport flood, which saw the area of Delta Park under water, really hurt the effort. Even though they were assured that Columbia River dams would keep that tragic event from happening again, too many people were worried the new stadium would end up floating away in a flood. There were also complaints at the time that the stadium would be closer to Vancouver -- which was not paying any part of the bill -- than Portland.

As it turns out, the area has never been flooded and the city of Portland has pretty much extended past Delta Park. And Portland remains pretty much a minor-league town other than the Trail Blazers.

Because of a paltry 10,000 votes.

Russell Wilson takes over Portland Diamond Project Twitter to provide updates on MLB to PDX

Russell Wilson takes over Portland Diamond Project Twitter to provide updates on MLB to PDX

When Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson isn’t launching 53-yard bombs to Tyler Lockett in the end zone, the Super Bowl Champion and perennial Pro Bowler is on a quest to bring Major League Baseball to Portland.

Wilson is one of the investors and co-founders of the Portland Diamond Project, a group that is leading the push in bringing a baseball team to the Rose City. 

The two-sport athlete was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007 and the Colorado Rockies in 2010. He recent participated in spring training games for the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees. Now, he wants to build a baseball community in Portland. 

Wilson took over the PDX Diamond Project’s Twitter account to answer your questions. Here’s a wrap up from today’s Q&A. 

On which baseball players he looked up to growing up: 

On whether he plans on getting any other athletes involved in the project: 

On how soon Portland could have a ballpark:

On whether or not the Mariners and Portland's baseball team could build a rivalry: 

On where fans can buy a PDX Diamond Project baseball jersey seen here

On whether or not Wilson will attend baseball games, and if so, who does he want to see: 

On a timeframe for a possible opening pitch: 

On his favorite baseball memory: 

For more information on how you can help bring MLB to PDX, visit the Portland Diamond Project's website here

Terrence Jones, what you doing?

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USA Today

Terrence Jones, what you doing?

Things got a little crazy in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) on Monday when former NBA player Terrence Jones got in a scuffle with Calvin Abueva.

It all started when Abueva, a player for the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters (yeah, that's the team's name) hit Jones hard trying to run through a screen, sending Jones to the ground. 

Jones, a Portland native, retaliated by punching Abueva in the groin then attempting to elbow him in the chin as he got up from the floor. Jones was not called for a foul.

Obviously upset, Abueva retaliated in a big way.  While Jones was running to the corner to get a loose ball, Abueva came running after. At first, you thought Abueva was just making a play for the ball, that was until he extended his right arm and clotheslined Jones sending him flying.

Well, Jones wasn't too happy, jumped up to get some retaliation of his own, and the two had to be separated by teammates. However, it wasn't over yet. 

During the ensuing timeout, Abueva got up and the scorers table and started dancing to mock Jones. 

This all resulted in Abueva's ejection, and it was later announced that his actions have got him suspended indefinitely from the PBA.

So, next time someone asks you "whatever happened to Terrence Jones?" 

You can tell them he's playing for TNT KaTropa in the Phillapines, hitting people in the junk, and is occasionally on the receiving end of WWE'esque clotheslines from hell. 

The PBA is wild.

 

PDP issues update on status of Terminal 2

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Portland Diamond Project

PDP issues update on status of Terminal 2

The Portland Diamond Project (PDP) continues to work with the Port of Portland in hopes of securing a site for a future baseball stadium. Today, the PDP released some updated info as they continue to research the site and its baseball future. Below is the official press release from the PDP:

PDP Statement on T2 Extension:

Portland Diamond Project continues to evaluate Terminal 2 as the preferred site for a ballpark and mixed-use development. We have come to an agreement with the Port of Portland for up to six months of extensions to continue the due diligence period.

Port of Portland Statement:

The Portland Diamond Project asked for more time for due diligence at Terminal 2 and we feel comfortable extending the timeline.

Will Portland Diamond Project be paying the Port of Portland for the extensions?

Yes. PDP will pay the Port $37,500 for each month of additional due diligence.

When are the payments due?

PDP will pay the first Monthly Extension Fee in the amount of $37,500 on or before June 1, 2019 and will also pay five successive payments of the Monthly Extension Fee in the amount of $37,500 each, on or before the 1st day of July, August, September, October and November of 2019.

What happens when the six months are up?

At that point, we’ll enter next phase of cementing our partnership with the Port to develop this property.

Is PDP considering other sites?

We love the opportunity that Terminal 2 presents for a ballpark on the waterfront and a new neighborhood that extends the central city. We have an agreement to continue evaluating Terminal 2 and that’s where our energy is focused.

So, you’re considering other sites?

We’re focused on Terminal 2, but we’ll be pursuing all options that make sense until shovels are in the ground.

Despite delays, Seattle 'fully motivated' to host NHL Expansion Draft, NHL Draft before first season

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USA Today Images

Despite delays, Seattle 'fully motivated' to host NHL Expansion Draft, NHL Draft before first season

Hockey fans in Seattle will have to wait a little longer to take a step inside their future NHL team's new arena. 

In a press conference Thursday, the NHL to Seattle expansion group announced plans to open the arena in June 2021, a slight delay from the project's original target date of spring 2021. However, the new date does make it possible for the Emerald City to become host of the NHL Expansion Draft and NHL Draft before the team takes the ice for the first time during the 2021-22 NHL season.

"That would be a heck of a way to start a franchise," NHL Seattle president Tod Leiweke said in a press conference on Thursday. "We are fully motivated.”

The Seattle Center Arena, formerly known as KeyArena, began renovations in December, but recent design delays and switching contractors have pushed the date for completion back.  

“We’ll know in about a year what the probability of an exact date is,” Leiweke said. “We’ll know a lot more in the coming year.”

The price of the privately-funded project has also soared to somewhere between $900 to $930 million. The initial price was expected to cost around $600 million. Leiweke said the group has provided Mortenson, the project’s new contractor, with special incentives if they can have the arena ready by June 2021. 

"The Storm will play in this building, and they're not really a tenant, they're a partner," Leiweke said. "We have deep admiration for them and what they do. We have a deep admiration for their championships. Hopefully, some of that will rub off on other teams in the building."

The WNBA defending champions will play at University of Washington's Alaska Airlines Arena during the construction of Seattle Center Arena. 

Seattle's Breanna Stewart to weather the storm following ruptured Achilles

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USA Today Images

Seattle's Breanna Stewart to weather the storm following ruptured Achilles

“M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P.”

Chants rung out through EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia as WNBA basketball superstar Breanna Stewart held the championship trophy for the first time. The Seattle Storm had just completed a three-game sweep of the Washington Mystics in the WNBA Finals to secure their third title in franchise history.

But that was seven months ago.

The reigning league and finals MVP, who spent her WNBA offseason playing for Russia-based Dynamo Kursk, was injured Sunday playing in the EuroLeague Final Four Championship in Sopron, Hungry. Upon returning to the States, Stewart underwent an MRI which confirmed her worst fears.

The 24-year-old ruptured her right Achilles tendon and will miss the 2019 WNBA season.

"First off, I just want to thank you for the tremendous amount of love and support I've received over the past few days," Stewart said in her announcement on Twitter. "The situation is still a shock to me. ... This year especially has been amazing and filled with lots of success and as we all know there are highs and lows throughout a career."

This is just another obstacle that I will overcome. I'm thankful that I have so many people in my corner to help me every step of the way. I'm feeling every emotion possible at this point but just know that the bounce back will be real and I'll be back better than ever.

Stewart is expected to make a full recovery following surgery and could return to the court as early as the 2020 WNBA season. Rehabilitation from an Achilles injury takes an estimated nine months to a year.

Like many other female players in the WNBA, Stewart was playing overseas to maximize her income. In 2018, she made $56,793 in base salary with the Storm and earned bonuses of $15,000 for being named MVP, $11,025 for winning the WNBA title, $10,000 for being All-WNBA first team and $2,500 for being in the All-Star Game.

Since she was taken as the No. 1 pick in 2016, Stewart has played in 111 games in three WNBA seasons, averaging 20.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 blocks. She has missed only one game in her WNBA career. 

With Stewart out, the Storm are left to pick up the pieces. Just last week, Seattle drafted 6-foot-4 Australian forward Ezi Magbegor, who could have an increased workload with Stewart sidelined. Jewell Loyd, Natasha Howard and Sue Bird will be tasked with filling the void as the Storm looks to defend its title when the WNBA season opens on May 25.

Portland Diamond Project reveals new renderings of proposed ballpark

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Portland Diamond Project

Portland Diamond Project reveals new renderings of proposed ballpark

It’s been two years since the Portland Diamond Project came to fruition, so happy PDP Day!

In celebration of the project’s anniversary to bring a major league baseball team to Portland, the Portland Diamond Project released new stadium renderings of the Rose City's future ballpark. 

The MLB to PDX stadium features a retractable roof, gondola suite, and centerfield and home-plate plazas, among other features. The capacity of the ballpark is expected seat between 32,000 and 34,000 fans.  

Take a look:


In November, the project signed an agreement in principle to develop the Port of Portland’s 45 acre Terminal 2 Property as the future home for Portland baseball.

So far, the project has gained lots of traction from the Portland community. A petition to show MLB officials the need for a fanbase has gained over 30,000 signatures.

Celebrate PDP Day and the project's goal to bring Major League Baseball to Portland on Wednesday at the Portland Diamond Project store across the street from Providence Park.

A 'step-back season' for the Seattle Mariners? Not so fast...

A 'step-back season' for the Seattle Mariners? Not so fast...

Teardown, rebuild, reimagine. These were all words used to describe the future of the Seattle Mariners when Seattle made nine trades this offseason, shedding itself of lofty salaries and hefty contracts.

But fast forward half a year and the phrase "step-back season," that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto coined to describe the 2019 season has all but dissipated, Seattle is off to its best start in club history. 

That was a surprise.

The M’s just can’t stop hitting home runs and they’ve racked up a monster 98 runs for an average of 8.2 runs per game. With a 13-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday, the Mariners now have the best record in baseball to this point in the year.

Edwin Encarnación hit two home runs during an eight-run sixth inning against Kansas City, two of the five homers hit in the game. 

Seattle now has 32 home runs—the most of any team in MLB in the first dozen games. The Mariners didn’t hit 32 homers until their 26th game of the season last year.

Domingo Santana, who hit 30 home runs and stole 17 bases for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017, has been a key player for the Mariners this season. The outfielder has 19 RBI’s through 12 games, the most in the AL, tying a Major League lead with Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger. Jay Bruce (6), Tim Beckham (4) and Encarnación (4) have all provided a spark for the home-run happy Mariners.

So, are the Mariners the real deal? In this moment, the answer is yes.

The Astros are still the favorites to win the AL West, but the Mariners are definitely the team to watch. 

Best April Fools' Day headlines we couldn't publish

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NBCS NW

Best April Fools' Day headlines we couldn't publish

A lot of great April Fools' Day headlines got kicked around the office today, unfortunately we couldn't ACTUALLY publish any of these stories, but wouldn't it have been fun if we did?

In honor of this great holiday, let's take a look at the list of our favorites: 

Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu says 'screw it' declares for NBA Draft

Meyers Leonard admits Miles is his birth name

Tired of all the donor money, Oregon gifts $50mil to OSU

BREAKING: MLB approves expansion to Portland, Pat Casey named head coach

Nike signs Dame Jr. to lifetime shoe contract

Chip Kelly Returns! Will be Oregon's new offensive coordinator

WATCH: Russell Wilson sings in Ciara's newest music video

Damian Lillard retiring to be full time rapper

Trail Blazer players to self-coach remainder of regular season, coaching staff will return for playoffs

Mark Few, tired of small-town Spokane, takes Women's job at Tennessee

Gonzaga announces their inaugural season for Division I football

Zion will not enter NBA draft, announces transfer to Oregon

Doubling Up: Troy Dye moves to running back, will play both ways in 2019

Tired of being sacked, Marcus Mariota quits football to become surfer

Mario Cristobal leaves Oregon for "dream job" at Alabama

Not to be outdone by Thorns, Timbers sign nine year old to start next game

OK, so none of these are real. But wouldn't it be fun, if even for a minute, if some of these were actually true? Let us know which headline is your favorite. 

Great Odin's Raven! Could Ron Burgundy be NHL Seattle's play-by-play broadcaster?

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NHL

Great Odin's Raven! Could Ron Burgundy be NHL Seattle's play-by-play broadcaster?

Renovations are underway at KeyArena for the eventual home of Seattle’s NHL Team.

While seat removal, relocation of power lines and hard demolition of the arena are taking place, it appears the NHL Seattle franchise could have a lead on its first play-by-play broadcaster as well.

Legendary anchor Ron Burgundy of “Anchorman” called the LA Kings-San Jose Sharks game on Thursday and son of a bee-sting, it was fantastic.

So impressive, Seattle is pursuing Burgundy as a color commentator for its new franchise, which will drop the first hockey puck in 2021.

“Hey Ron, we might have a play-by-play position opening up,” the franchise said in a post on Twitter.

On the Kings-Sharks broadcast, Burgundy kissed a burrito on the Kiss Cam and chanted “put that baby to bed without a diaper,” as shots were taken on the ice.

While the Emerald City has a solid candidate for its play-by-play broadcaster opening, Seattle’s future NHL franchise still remains nameless.

Kraken, Metropolitans and Sockeyes are still in the mix as possible names for the 32nd franchise, but team CEO and President Tod Leiweke said the team will likely make their decision in the middle of 2019.

Seattle’s expansion franchise will take the ice at the newly-improved KeyArena beginning 2021.