TUESDAY, MAR. 10, 2015 – Mayor Charlie Hales, Rose City Baseball LLC, Portland Parks & Recreation, and the Portland Development Commission announced today that baseball is returning to the City of Portland with a new college wood-bat team based in East Portland.
The City and the Great West League are partnering to bring Portland’s new baseball team (soon-to-be named by Portland’s fans!) to Walker Stadium in PP&R’s Lents Park, Southeast 92nd and Holgate, for the 2016 season.
“We’re finally seeing some real development in Lents,” Hales said. “The team and stadium improvements will be great for the east Portland neighborhood. I’m an advocate for complete neighborhoods, and this plan will help Lents to shine! The city is delighted to partner with Ken and his colleagues in bringing baseball back to the Rose City.”
Portland’s Baseball Team is owned and operated by Rose City Baseball, LLC, under the direction of team President and CEO Ken Wilson.
“There’s been a void in the city since the Portland Beavers left, and having baseball so conveniently located for neighbors in east Portland will be terrific”, says Wilson. “We’re excited to bring affordable family entertainment to Portland and we believe Walker Stadium will be one of the most exciting ball parks in the country.”
The new Walker Stadium will have a capacity of 1,500, including group event areas. The stadium in PP&R’s Lents Park was constructed in 1956. It is located within easy reach of mass transit and major freeways. The updated Walker Stadium will cater to fans’ enjoyment of professional-style baseball with amenities including multiple concession stands, a playground and group event areas.
“We’ll have the most exciting entertainment in Portland, and we want the half-million people within 15 minutes of the ballpark to know that this team belongs to them,” Wilson adds.
The public-private partnership between Rose City Baseball, LLC, and the City of Portland will also bring gleaming upgrades and needed repairs to Lents Park’s centerpiece, Walker Stadium. Outside of the 30 Great West League baseball games annually, the freshly renovated stadium will be available for play by recreational players or anyone else to use.
“Baseball has been missed in Portland, and I am excited to have the game returning,” said Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “I appreciate that this public-private partnership provides stadium improvements that all Portlanders can enjoy.”
Without the partnership, Fritz added, the much-needed renovations to Walker Stadium would not be occurring for the foreseeable future. The stadium will be open for community use for the majority of the year.
“Lents is in a part of town – East Portland - that deserves an improved parks and recreation experience,” added Fritz, “and this endeavor is a solid complement to the new parks which PP&R is building in east Portland – Beech Park and Gateway Park & Urban Plaza.”
Team owner Ken Wilson had a similar role in another summer wood-bat league for collegians, serving as president of the West Coast League. He spent more than two decades as a broadcaster for Major League Baseball and the NHL. Wilson, who lives in Portland, spent six seasons with legendary Seattle Mariners play-by-play announcer Dave Niehaus.
Pat Gillick, the Great West League co-founder along with Wilson, is the current president of MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies and a National Baseball Hall of Fame member. He has been general manager of four MLB teams, including the Mariners (2000-03). Gillick won two World Series championships with the Toronto Blue Jays and one with the Phillies.
The City and Rose City Baseball are teaming up on $650,000 worth of improvements to the stadium, including new chair-back seating, the addition of group event areas, a new scoreboard, team offices, a new press box, new concession services, new dugouts, a major league backstop, a new irrigated grass playing surface and a children’s play area.
The yet-to-be-named baseball team will play 30 home games per 60 game season. The team will pay rent to the City, clean the stadium, and provide security during games. Outside of the dates set aside for the team, the stadium will be open for permitted play by anyone who reserves it.
“Portland Development Commission’s investment is consistent with our commitments to the community and neighborhood association,” says PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton. “We are delighted that Rose City Baseball will hire local youth and develop partnerships with local community-based organizations, such as Lents Grown and Lents Little League. Since 1998, PDC has made more than $5 million in investments in parks and open space in the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Area”.
Financial contributions for the partnership:
Rose City Baseball: $400,000
Portland Development Commission: $200,000
Portland Parks & Recreation: $50,000
About the Great West League
The Great West League is one of the premier summer collegiate wood bat leagues in North America, providing a professional, minor league-like atmosphere for top college players seeking professional baseball careers, while providing affordable family entertainment and enriching the quality of life in its member communities.
The league will begin play with six teams, each playing a 60-game schedule. Portland, OR, Chico and Lodi, California, have each secured teams. The remaining teams will be announced by late summer.
Ken Wilson, who also serves as President of the GWL, is a co-founder of the league along with Pat Gillick, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and currently President of the Philadelphia Phillies. Gillick is part owner of the Chico Heat.
What’s the team called? That’s up to YOU!
Portland’s Baseball Team has unveiled a website at www.portlandsbaseballteam.com. A “Name Your Team” contest begins immediately and fans can go to the team website to vote for their choice for the team nickname.