Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Batter up for Clark County

It’s one of the welcome signs of spring, along with the flowering trees and the (sometimes) sunnier days.

It’s the crack of a baseball bat – a familiar sound at high school campuses, Vancouver’s Central Park and maybe one day, a new Pacific Coast League stadium in Clark County.

Hey, one can dream.

Then again, with stadium proposals for the soon-to-be homeless Portland Beavers in the Rose Quarter, Lents and most recently, Beaverton, falling by the wayside in the past year – what’s to keep Clark County out of the minor league baseball mix?

Though I’m far from the center of Beavers and expansion Portland Timbers MLS team owner Merritt Paulson’s decision making process, if I had five minutes to make Clark County’s pitch for the Beavs, I would highlight the following points:

Vancouverites already make up a large chunk of the fan base for Portland area teams, as evidenced by the flotilla of Washington state-licensed vehicles descending on the Rose Quarter for most Trail Blazer home games.

No income tax on player salaries – at least for games played at home. As you might remember from movies about the hard-scrabble life outside of the major leagues like “Bull Durham,” minor league ballplayers don’t make a lot of scratch. So what better way to keep one’s players happy than an automatic 10 percent bump in salary? Though there is a drawback: some states, like California, collect a “jock tax” on visiting players – something to keep in mind during away games at the Sacramento RiverCats.

Plenty of parking, or at least more than PGE Park, which currently has no dedicated lots of its own, instead relying on a mix of private, city-owned and metered spaces.

No name change needed. As any New York City area football fan can attest, moving a sports team across state lines doesn’t necessitate a switch in moniker. The Portland Beavers is a storied baseball franchise dating back to 1903, and could remain that way, even if games are played in Clark County.

As for possible locations for a stadium, the Clark County Fairgrounds comes immediately to mind – a parcel with clear access to I-5 and one perhaps with none of the issues that have stymied deal-making in Lents and Beaverton.

All we need is Merritt’s ear. So let’s send out a clear signal about how this community could be the right place for minor league baseball.


Anonymous said...

There's only one problem: money to build the stadium. Paulson was clear when he looked at Clark County sites that it was going to be up to the local community to foot the construction bill in return for a guaranteed lease with the club. Unless he's changed that position, that would appear to be a non-starter. Hard to imagine either Vancouver or the County finding a way (and willingness) to pony up $30-40 million.