Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Potter rains on the Marlins Parade....Hawkey Talk and more....

In a suprise to everyone, Suke and I are out of the studio again today. But..... it is by our choice. We will be at the Memorial Coliseum prior to the Portland WinterHawks game vs. Vancouver tonight. I am filling in on the PA again for the great Dan Fowlick who is unavailable, so since we are both hockey fans, why not hang out at the rink for the afternoon.

It is a strange setting for what we will be talking about though. We will be at the old sports venue in Portland, talking about building a new one to bring baseball here. Yes, we will be hitting the Major League Baseball to Portland topic hard again today, with Steve Kanter from the Portland Baseball Group.(http://www.portlandbaseballgroup.org/faq_01.cfm#4

If you saw the comments yesterday from Portland Mayor Tom Potter, it has to be maddening. When a mayor of a city effectively says I'm pro-education and so I don't want baseball here that is idiotic. Does that mean that cities with Major League Baseball teams are not PRO-EDUCATION? I would venture to say many of those cities have better education situations than we do here with the Portland School District. What did he accomplish by his comments yesterday? How about this gem from the Oregonian: Asked whether most Portlanders couldn't care less about a baseball team, Potter said: "That's my very strong sense."
Someone needs to give him the following information: Portland consistently ranks in the Top 10 in the country each season in television ratings for the World Series, including this season when only three markets outside of Chicago or Texas had better Nielsen numbers than Portland. On local cable, the Mariners, SEATTLE'S team, consistently beat about 2/3 of the other major league cities in terms of cable ratings for a team three hours North. In other words, the team up there gets better cable ratings than teams in their own market like the Royals, the A's, etc. So nobody cares?

Economic Development
This from the Portland Baseball Group web site: A new stadium would raise surrounding property values and spark economic development. The precedent has been set elsewhere. Property in the surrounding area of Coors Field in Denver has jumped from $10/foot to $80/foot since the opening of the stadium. In the first year of its operation, Baltimore's Camden Yards pumped more than $52.8 million into that city's economy. Jacob's Field in Cleveland created more than 6,500 new jobs to the surrounding neighborhood.

So what is the real concern?
I spoke to a couple of people who work for other sports franchises in the market (keep in mind we have an NBA team, a PCL baseball team, a WHL hockey team and now a lacrosse team) who both say the exact same thing: There is not enough corporate support for major league baseball.
Here is what they said:

"There is not enough corporations based here. By corporate standards, at the 23rd media market, we are considered to be a small market."

As such he continued.....
"The dollars invested here from corporate hospitality are not enough to support another team, at least a major league baseball team" although he also says, given the right situation, "I think hockey could survive here."
"There aren't enough companies in the market who have headquarters in this area or are specifically focused on this market (as opposed to other West Coast cities) to make the corporate support of another major league franchise viable."

I though of other cities who seem in a similar situation, i.e. being in the shadow of a larger market, and asked, for example, why are we different than San Diego?
"San Diego has a lot of corporations who are based there. We don't. Companies relocate to San Diego." In other words, what he is saying is places like San Diego, Phoenix, Denver and others have had corporate or regional headquarters go there and set up shop as opposed to Portland.

Next question: What about those who are based here, like Intel?

"Intel doesn't do sports marketing. It has 15,000 employees but they don't make a significant sports marketing investment, even in their own community."

So what do you think? Who is right? Under Mayor Tom Potter, we may never know. But to make the comment that you can't have MLB AND top flight education is irresponsible.