The death of a landmark?

The future of PGE Park is not in question, at least not today,according to Dave Logsdon the Spectator Facilities Manager for theCity of Portland. The fate of the oldest minor league ballpark inthe country was first brought to question in the September 1 issueof the Willamette Week when the paper reported that the PortlandCity Council planned to raze the park in favor of a major leaguebaseball stadium.

According to Logsdon there is no plan to destroy the formerCivic Stadium in the foreseeable, realistic future.

PGE Park is home to your very own PSU Viking football andwomen’s soccer teams. Portland State has played its home games atthe stadium since 1967. If the stadium were to become unavailable,PSU would admittedly be in a bind as they lack the resources tobuild their own facility and have no viable alternative sites.

What makes the idea of PGE Park being torn down so distastefulis multifaceted and is in large part due to the enormous historythe facility embodies. First used as a field for athletic events in1893, the actual stadium was constructed in 1926.

Initially built to hold up to 30,000 spectators, the field hasplayed host to events ranging from tennis tournaments to modern dayinternational soccer matches. Current tenants include PSU footballand soccer, the A league Timbers, AAA baseball team/San Diego Padreaffiliate Beavers and area high school football as well.

The first baseball game was played in 1905 with thePortland Giants inhabiting what was then Multnomah Field. In 1966the stadium changed hands when the City of Portland bought the parkfrom the Multnomah Athletic Club for 2.1 million dollars. The cityhas operated it ever since, at times outsourcing theresponsibilities to such entities as the failed Portland FamilyEntertainment Company.

In the late Nineties the stadium required a renovation and by2001 a 38.5 million dollar bond was passed to repair the aginglandmark. New seats were added and the baseball field was finallyupgraded to MLB specs, which included improved locker rooms anddugouts. The cosmetic changes were the most stark, as the stadiumwas given a retro look and feel, including a hand operatedscoreboard that recalls Wrigley Field in Chicago or Boston’s FenwayPark.

The only risk PGE Park faces is in the highly unlikelycircumstance of MLB coming to the Portland area. If a new stadiumwas built, Logsdon suggests that PGE Park would be evaluated, andother options would be explored if and when it was deemed unusableor unprofitable.

“Only if it can’t stand on its own, only at that time mightwe look at our options,” Logsdon said. Those options includedestroying the facility and renovating the area into a hotel andrestaurant complex.

Logsdon also stated that in the eventuality that PGE Park was tomeet with a wrecking ball, the city would demand from the new MLBteam to allow PSU sports to continue to play in the new park.

“We certainly want PSU football playing at the newstadium,” said Mr. Logsdon. “And we would make sure towrite that into whatever contract the city has with an MLBteam.”

PGE Park
Opened: 1926
Capacity: 23,105
Tenants: Portland Beavers, PSU Football and Women’s Soccer, ALeague Soccer
Timbers, high school football
Address: 1844 SW Morrison
Portland, Oregon 97205
For Tickets: 503-224-4400 or

Of course, the question remains of where that team will becoming from and when. Baseball, unlike all the other major sportsleagues, is seemingly allergic to relocating their teams. In thelast decade no MLB teams have moved, while most casual sports fanscan name several football and basketball teams that have found newhomes. The sad financial state of baseball is due to the fact thatinstead of moving struggling teams to healthier markets they areleft to rot until it is almost too late. See the Montreal Expos forproof of this misguided strategy.

It is popular to speculate that the Minnesota Twins or perhapsthe Oakland A’s might be up for grabs soon, however in alllikelihood no teams will be moving for a long while. The reality isthat any Major League team that may relocate to Portland would haveto play in PGE Park for at least three years while the new ballparkwas constructed. Tearing down the park would be extremelydetrimental to the campaign to acquire a team and would make itvirtually impossible for them to move to the area until a newstadium was finished. As you might imagine, most teams would findthat situation unattractive and simply relocate elsewhere.

Portland would indeed provide a fine market for an MLB team,simply due to its size and excellent summer weather, even thoughthe city barely supports the AAA Beavers. Attendance rarely risesabove 5000 spectators at those games and overall the averageattendance is bolstered from marketing gimmicks such as theever-popular Thirsty Thursdays and other promotions.

Even the beloved Trail Blazers have seen their attendance shrinkto shocking lows recently as they struggle to rebuild and win backthe good will of Portland fans.