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PORTLAND DIAMOND PROJECT

No, taxpayers won't be footing the bill to build a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium in Portland. At least, that's what Mayor Ted Wheeler promised reporters Friday afternoon.

“The taxpayers here are not going to buy a team, and we’re not going to buy a ballpark," Wheeler said.

Wheeler did say he was open to indirect funding to assist the Portland Diamond Project (PDP) in turning Port of Portland’s Terminal 2 into a ballpark, like putting city dollars toward surrounding infrastructure and waiving fees associated with development.

“Obviously we would give the same kind of considerations to this that we would in terms of any other economic development plan around infrastructure, transportation, and the like,” he said. “It would be very naïve to assume there would be no public contribution.”

Wheeler said he supported PDP’s plan to develop Terminal 2, which he called an “under-utilized port facility." Traditionally, the port has been used to accommodate “breakbulk,” or cargo ships containing steel rail, power transformers, or oversized materials.

“The region has many competitive breakbulk facilities, and shallow river depth limits the type of ships that can [dock] at [Terminal 2],” Melanie Mesaros, the port’s media relations manager, told the Mercury. “We have begun to direct this type of cargo to Terminal 6, which is better suited to handle it."

The mayor told reporters he planned to meet with officials from the transportation, planning, and development bureaus later Friday afternoon to start the planning process for supporting infrastructure for the ballpark.

He said that there wasn’t a connection between PDP’s Thursday announcement and his recent stated support of the Passenger Ferry Initiative, which aims to bring ferry service to the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, but that he could see a potential "opportunity" to make the PDP site a ferry stop.

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The PDP has stated in the past that a new ballpark plan could include new housing developments as well—perhaps as much as 8,000 units—but made no mention of it in Thursday’s announcement. Wheeler pointed out that the ballpark plans make up a relatively small portion of the Terminal 2 site, meaning there would potentially be space for housing there.

He also called the potential development a good opportunity to “build another central city neighborhood from scratch.”

Wheeler has seen the names of PDP’s private investors, but did not share those names with reporters. He said he isn’t sure what his role would be in lobbying Major League Baseball to bring a team to Portland.