Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 30th, 2018 at 12:20 pm
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?
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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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.
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