MLB backers offer Portland Public Schools $80M for headquarters
Businessmen behind an effort to bring Major League Baseball to Portland have offered Portland Public Schools $80 million or more to turn over its centrally-located headquarters to become a baseball stadium, newly released records show.
The Multnomah County assessor’s office estimates the school district headquarters has a market value of $105 million. As part of the deal, backers have offered to relocate the district headquarters to the former Banfield Pet Hospital offices off Northeast 82nd Avenue. That could be a hard sell for school board members, as the school district property just north of the Moda Center provides more equal access to all families. Northeast 82nd Avenue, by contrast, lies at the far eastern end of the district.
According to the Multnomah County assessor’s office, the Banfield property is worth $27 million — $5 million for the land and $22 million for the 225,000-square-foot office building.
The offer also says the would-be buyer, known to be the Portland Diamond Project, is willing to design and build facilities the district would need in order to move.
Trammell Crow, acting on behalf of the baseball group, said it would pay the school district at least $80 million — and even more if an appraisal finds its market value to be higher than $80 million. The offer also hints at an ability for the district to argue for more enticements. The offer indicates the buyer may be willing to give Portland Public Schools a “long term contribution plan” to help the school district’s facilities, fields, and gyms. That plan could include creating “additional educational, recreational, and employment opportunities,” the offer says.
In a statement, Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero and school board members called the district’s current headquarter an “important and valuable asset” and said they “take their stewardship of this and other real estate assets very seriously. While this was an unsolicited offer, district leadership has an obligation to ensure that any possible sale of property maximizes the return, in order to better serve our students and fulfill our mission. The District has not committed to a timeline on when a decision will be made on the offer.”
The baseball group has said it also has made an offer to buy a second site, a shut-down foundry owned by manufacturing company Esco in Northwest Portland.
Trammell Crow Company is listed as a development partner for the project.
As The Oregonian/OregonLive first reported, retired Nike vice president Craig Cheek formed Portland Diamond Project last July — though his name wasn’t on the incorporation paperwork. Cheek was listed as the company’s director on paperwork filed with federal Securities and Exchange Commission showing it sought to raise $6 million and had sold $500,000 of equity to two unnamed investors. It was previously known that former Trail Blazers announcer Mike Barrett was also part of the MLB-to-Portland effort.
Since then, Portland Diamond Project has disclosed that former state senator Jason Atkinson is also a managing partner. Atkinson signed the lobbying disclosure paperwork, dated April 13.
Portland Diamond Project announced Tuesday that it had placed offers on two close-in Portland properties, hoping to buy one for construction of a 32,000-seat ballpark and 8,000 units of housing.
When trying to lure a professional sports team to town, city officials are often asked to provide taxpayer funding to underwrite construction of a new stadium or other costs. But Portland Diamond officials have said they won’t seek new taxpayer underwriting.
City officials could offer other perks in the form of zoning changes, funding from urban renewal districts, or Portland Diamond Project could tap a $150 million bond fund the Legislature set aside for ballpark construction. Wheeler said he has not been asked for public incentives from Portland Diamond Project, nor would he entertain such a request.
The offer to buy the school district headquarters is contingent on many factors, including the City Council voting on a new citywide zoning plan that would designate the land suitable for a wide variety of uses, from industrial to residential.