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Riverfront stadium proposal raises questions about transportation access

Posted by on November 30th, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Portland Diamond Project used this as their lead image and titled it on their website as “Bike Tailgating.”

In Portland you can’t even propose a Major League Baseball stadium without putting bikes front and center.

Yesterday a consortium of financiers, celebrities, and fans made a big splash with an announcement about a potential location and a series of renderings of what the 32,000 seat stadium might look like.

“We absolutely do take transportation seriously. We expect a lot to be invested in infrastructure.”
— John McIsaac, Portland Diamond Project

The Portland Diamond Project says they’ve inked an agreement with the Port of Portland to develop a stadium on Terminal 2, a 50-acre parcel of industrial land along the Willamette River in northwest Portland about one mile north of the Fremont Bridge.

Along with announcement the group released several renderings of the stadium. The main image, titled “Bike Tailgating,” features over a dozen bicycles prominently parked in the foreground.

This has us wondering: If this project moves forward (a big if, given the billions it would cost to build the stadium and buy an MLB franchise), how would people get to the games?

T2 on Google Maps. That’s the Fremont Bridge in lower right.

As it sits right now, the T2 site is basically a transportation desert. Unless you’re in a car. It’s served by just one infrequent TriMet bus line (16) and it’s over a mile away from a Portland Streetcar stop. Even with their planned northwest expansion a stop would still be about a half-mile away. Light rail is much too far away at about 1.5 miles and a MAX expansion in this area isn’t even on the table.

And who knows, maybe the nascent Frog Ferry would add a stop at the stadium.

As for bikes, some of the parcel is actually inside the current Biketown bike share service area. But the wide roads around T2 would be frightening for the average bicycle user to ride on. In April 2016 during our NW Portland Week, I shared two posts that offer an in-depth look at cycling in the area. To recap: There’s tons of cycling potential on NW Front Avenue. We could use the 80-90 foot wide cross-sections to build physically protected bike lanes and make a direct connection to downtown.

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Terminal 2.
(Photo: Port of Portland)

NW Front Avenue outside T2 near 26th Avenue.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Diamond Project rendering of riverfront plans.

There are already positive signs for Front Avenue. In May we reported that a developer paid out-of-pocket for a Biketown station for an office property on NW 17th (the T2 site is further north at around 26th). That same developer also chipped in over $1 million to help the Bureau of Transportation build street upgrades that include protected bike lanes.

If this stadium is ever built, there’s also a question of how it would impact the Willamette Greenway Trail. Developers would be on the hook to create public riverfront access; but how and if cycling is integrated into it would be a big question mark.

Given the growth trajectory of the NW Front Avenue corridor, it’s safe to say street updates and bikeways will be built by the time any new stadium becomes a reality. Years down the road, it’s also reasonable to assume TriMet will have better bus service here as well.

But would taxpayers be on the hook for getting baseball fans to a privately-owned stadium? Mayor Ted Wheeler has said he won’t support public subsidy for this project; but he might not be in office by the time this issue boils over.

For their part, Portland Diamond Project spokesperson John McIsaac told me this morning, “We absolutely must take transportation seriously, and we absolutely do.”

However, at this stage in the game, it’s clear they’ve focused all their efforts in politics and fundraising. Asked if they’d talked to PBOT yet, McIsaac said they planned to do so today. The Oregonian reported yesterday that they haven’t yet talked to TriMet about the T2 site.

Asked if they were prepared to spend on transportation, McIsaac shared with me via email that, “We expect a lot to be invested in infrastructure.”

UPDATE: Don’t miss this article in The Oregonian that proposes five different locations that would make much more sense from a transportation perspective.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Bikeninja
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Bikeninja

At the rate MLB ballpark attendance numbers are shrinking ,by the time this thing is built they could put it in Col. Summers park and have plenty of room for the fans that would buy tickets.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Looks like Frog Ferry to the rescue!
– St Johns to T2
– Vancouver to T2
– etc.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Access to far-flung stadiums like this are a trap for local transit agencies. None of the surrounding development would justify anything more than a bi-hourly milk-run type bus. Obviously, this level of service wouldn’t work on game days. I think the solution here would be special shuttle buses, running a route from the stadium to Union Station, and then over the river to the Rose Quarter. These shuttles would only run before and after games and other large events.

David Hampsten
Guest

Why would they choose an out-of-the-way industrial site that needs lots of environmental remediation and that has such poor transit connections, when there’s still not-yet-redeveloped 11-block postal facility in the middle of downtown? Yeah, I know there’s lots of plans for it, but nothing’s actually been done yet, right? USPS is still there, right?

rick
Guest
rick

I don’t like this. The land should be kept as industrial.

billyjo
Guest
billyjo

It’ll be like the convention center.

They’ll build it in an out of the way place. Then they’ll complain that it isn’t doing enough business because it’s not convenient to the rest of town, and ask the taxpayers for whatever it is that they think they need.

After a few years, they’ll figure out a way for the taxpayer to finance something that will cost a ton money….. The streetcar won’t be high enough capacity, so we’ll likely foot the bill for a new max line. And hotels. And everything else.

Count me out.

billyjo
Guest
billyjo

Asked if they were prepared to spend on transportation, McIsaac shared with me via email that, “We expect a lot to be invested in infrastructure.”

notice they don’t say who they expect to do the investing.

maccoinnich
Subscriber

Has construction started on the Front Avenue repaving / road diet yet? The construction contract was authorized by council back in August.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I thought PBOT were supposed to be putting a cycle track on NW Front this year. I’ve read at least two articles here on BikePortland alone about it. Why is this not mentioned anywhere in this article?

Dave
Guest
Dave

How about some financial innovation–like absolutely no public money whatsoever used to build or run the stadium or buy the MLB team? Or maybe, if public coin is involved, the right to declare it property of the city if a certain threshold of said investment is reached.

q
Guest
q

I’ve heard that one time another city built a stadium, and after a few years, the team moved, leaving the city with an empty stadium and a lot of bills.

q
Guest
q

Too bad it’s not a football stadium. They could build a light rail station right in the middle of the end zone. Any team Portland got probably wouldn’t be using that space for the first several years.

Cory p
Guest
Cory p

St. Helen’s max? Just about as likely to happen as this stadium. But it might be a great spot for a velodrome!

Ovid Boyd
Subscriber
Ovid Boyd

*If* this was built, it’d be an obvious place to connect to witha streetcar expansion (that’s already planned for this rapidly growing part of town)

I imagine that in the coming decades as downtown expands up here (as it’s been doing since the Pearl District kicked off), there’ll be need for Max here to. Maybe it’ll connect to North Portland/St a John’s. A big stadium would just push all that need forward.

Alon K.
Guest
Alon K.

Just what the city needs, more entertainment, more noise and traffic pollution.
I live in NW Portland and during my daily rides see the other side of the transformation of our city.
Have we made sure that the thousands of our brothers and sisters sleeping under bridges or by freeways have a home? That every fellow human in Portland has adequate food and does not need to search for crumbs in garbage cans? Have we got a handle on the high rents and endless destruction of old buildings so that more trinket stores and condos are opened? Are services like shelters for domestic violence victims well funded?
Even if the project is paid for by corporations or wealthy individuals and not city funds then we can and must stop this plan which impacts all of us.
I love sports but first let us solve the issues of real importance.

Sam Peterson
Guest
Sam Peterson

Is anyone else extremely annoyed that the stock-image people were not even pasted in at correct or even consistent scale? Especially the last picture?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Jonathan, thanks for the article link. Maybe a Pearson Field stadium would be the wedge under the door to finally break Vantucky’s allergy to light rail.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

It’s worth noting that the Oakland A’s also unveiled a new stadium proposal this week, complete with renderings. They’re proposing a bay front site that would have BART subway service, along with buses and cross bay ferries. The site also includes improvements to a popular bike path that runs along the East Bay Waterfront, as well as renovating the present Coliseum site into a concert venue. That, presumably, would force the Raiders to move (Lss Vegas?) and would also, one assumes, force the NBA Warriors to play in a temporary location until their present building is renovated or gets replaced. Keep an eye on that one as the PDP moves forward wuth their proposal. Seattle also has a proposal on the table for a new Key Arena to replace the current building there.

9watts
Subscriber

Mike
Could be? Have you even read the book? It does not apply if private money buys the team, builds the stadium with no public investment and then contributes jobs and taxes. I guess if GM decided to build a new state of the art factory to build environmentally friendly automobiles in PDX you would ask… “What’s the catch?”Recommended 0

Your comment is chock full of fact-free fantasies.

Name one US city where the kind of privately financed stadium such as you are here floating has been proposed and built.
Next, please clarify what you mean by environmentally friendly automobiles.

It is easy to make up mellifluous sounding but implausible scenarios; much easier than reading the summary (much less the book or any of the dozens of books on this subject) which deal with your questions quite thoroughly.

9watts
Subscriber

Mike
It’s a big river.Recommended 0

Hilarious.

This is the kind of utterances we get from the guy currently playing at President.

What is big are our cumulative demands on everything from the river you think is so big to the Superfund site just downstream to the air which is already among the most polluted in the entire country, and the land, the quantity of which is fixed. Once everything along the river is paved over for parking lots, and the best farmland in the Valley has been covered with houses are you going to reassure us that ‘it is a big State’?

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

Keep in mind the cost of this boondoggle is hush-hush. Reason, the promoters will be asking taxpayers to foot the bill while they cash in. Murmurs are already circulating in City Hall on how to pay for it. Never underestimate the ability of sports teams to snooker city populations into paying their way. Watch your back!

Laura
Guest
Laura

Today’s Oregonian reports that Mayor Wheeler has mentioned development fee waivers, SDC waivers and tax increment financing, along with the City maybe footing some of the infrastructure improvements. I thought projects like this were why SDCs were created…get them to pay for the infrastructure capacity that their projects demand. The O also mentions that Audubon and others are opposing it on the grounds that taking industrial land will put more pressure to develop west Hayden Island.

Champs
Guest
Champs

Taking a deep breath and stepping back, Terminal 2 looks like a distraction rather than a serious proposal from Portland Diamond Project

Our school district is suddenly taking bids on the site PDP actually wants, which is somehow not controversial. PDP can overshadow the fact that it undermines Albina Vision and put questions about the purchase price to rest by putting up the greatest consideration for our blessed children with money for the schools and even more sacred traffic by not choosing T2.

Looks like their work is just about done here.

X
Guest
X

Everything in that part of NW Portland is of course built on fill. We build large and tall permanent buildings on fill all the time, true, but all the surface routes in this area are going to basically disappear in the event of a major earthquake.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

I have read elsewhere that they are not even serious about bring a MLB franchise here, it is just a ploy to get other cities to shell out more subsidies for their existing teams under threat of relocation.

I can think of dozens of things more important to the city than another sports team- education and transportation spending to name just a couple off the top of my head. This fantasy proposal never seems to die. Sort of reminds me of the CRC.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Conspiracy theories abound in our world. Oy!

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

The photo is missing the throngs of homeless who will harass singles, couples and families for cash on the way in and out.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

I used to work out past there and it wasn’t fun to get to. The bus was too infrequent, but at least it was never crowded. Lots of big trucks passed you. And if you were taking the lane in one of the parts with an extra lane then drivers would rage against you for taking up 1 of the 2 narrow lanes.

Douglas K
Guest
Douglas K

“As it sits right now, the T2 site is basically a transportation desert. Unless you’re in a car. ”

A big part of the problem with this site: you won’t be able to get there in a car either. At least not easily. With probably more than 30,000 people trying to get in there on just one southbound and two northbound lanes on Front, plus a single lane across the NW 26th Drive viaduct, there will be traffic jams for miles in every direction on game days. Same problem getting out afterwards; it might take some people literally hours to leave. We could widen Front to four lanes north of the terminal, but it still won’t help much.

This site will come with a huge price tag for taxpayers in creating the transportation infrastructure to support it – cars, transit AND bikes.

Sam Churchill
Guest

Sidewalk Toronto plans to convert a 12 acre section of publicly owned land to a “neighborhood of the future” to be built “from the internet up.” Sidewalk Toronto envisions a mix of 50 percent retail and 40 percent below-market rate housing, which would include “a minimum of 20 percent affordable housing

https://sidewalktoronto.ca/
https://www.citylab.com/design/2018/11/sidewalk-labs-quayside-toronto-smart-city-google-alphabet/577078/

http://www.hayden-island.com/underwater-gardens/

Jimmy Moran
Guest
Jimmy Moran

I bet if they asked you guys to build a bridge that only foot and bikers used even though the VAST MAJORITY of the public won’t use you guys would be all over it..

This thing is privately financed only thing the city is doing is the infrastructure stuff and that’s because they do that anyways for large projects (sowa, Pearl District, etc)

It’s amazing what people will find To complain about. This stadium will generate MILLIONS for the city on property taxes alone. Slabtown is near here and development is already creeping
North towards T2. See the Conway development.

Play ball!