Television market size: 1.18 million
Similarly sized MLB market: St. Louis (1.24 million)
Wow, right around the same market size as baseball-mad St. Louis? Surely this town needs a baseball team, right?
Well, there's a big reason they don't have one. It's not that this town is opposed to baseball: It actually has a rich history of it, dating back to the 1860s. As recently as 2010, its Portland Beavers were the Triple AAA affiliate for the San Diego Padres. But Major League Soccer came knocking and offered the city a chance to revive the Portland Timbers and the Beavers were booted to Tuscon in favor of a soccer club that's regularly drawn more than 20,000 fans to its matches since joining the league in 2011.
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Occasionally, you'll hear grumbles about baseball here and there. A short-season Single A farm team for the Arizona Diamondbacks took up residence in the western suburb of Hillsboro last year, with the marketing team crowing "baseball is back." Though the Hillsboro Hops' hats were a hit at the Oregon Brewers Festival last year, the Hops regularly drew around 4,000 fans -- or less than a fifth of the Timbers' total -- during their inaugural season.
It's not that Portland isn't a sports town, it's just that it's a different kind of sports town. Sports are as much of a niche here as homebrewing, beekeeping and cycling. Unless it's a Timbers game day or a Blazers playoff game, sports don't tend to just be on the television at local bars -- if those bars have televisions at all. It's not assumed that everyone in town knows that the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard was unanimously voted the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 2013, though they might know that his last-second shot won the first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets last year. The fact that the NHL's top prospect in 2013, Seth Jones, played for the Portland Winterhawks this year is esoteric knowledge to all but die-hard junior hockey fans in the suburbs.
So when a local businessman suggested temporarily expanding the Hops' stadium to lure the Oakland A's a few months ago, the response ranged from muted bemusement to outright indifference. Neither the desire nor the money for a baseball stadium have appeared in any large quantity in Portland since the Beavers left, and the nostalgia for baseball here wanes with each passing year.
In a town where the Timbers Army functions like a political organization and the nearest Major League Baseball team -- the Seattle Mariners -- is a nonentity, baseball is about as rare a commodity as sunny days in spring.