Oregon Governor Asked To Bring NFL To Portland; Oakland Raiders On List


The sun is setting on aging O.co Coliseum. But is Portland the answer? A group with an online petition wants to think so. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Football fans in the state of Oregon are apparently getting impatient about landing an NFL franchise and they’ve taken to an annoying new-age way of expressing that frustration—taking up valuable pixels and memory on a server somewhere for a petition to Gov. John Kitzhaber on Change.org to bring a team to Portland.

The Oakland Raiders appear to be the team in the crosshairs, at least according to the home page of nfltoportland.com, which has a nifty (and most likely a copyright-violating) photo of Raiders’ running back Darren McFadden in a game against the San Diego Chargers above the caption: “The Oregon Raiders?”

According to the site:

"“The NFL is America’s No. 1 sport. Portland is the country’s largest metropolitan area with only one of the big three major league sports franchises. The Raiders are unhappy in Oakland, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has talked expanding to 34 teams. After near misses in Portland with the Delta Dome and folding USFL isn’t it time Oregon finally landed an NFL team of its own to love?”"

Portland has a recently renovated stadium, Providence Park, which is currently home to the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer and the Portland State University football team. The stadium has been in place since 1926 and hosted pro football, after a fashion, with the Portland Storm and Portland Thunder of the old World Football League in the mid-1970s and the Portland Breakers in the USFL’s final season in 1985.

But it’s a bit smallish for an NFL franchise at a shade more than 20,000 seats.

It’s not that I don’t think the idea of an NFL franchise in Portland is ridiculous; far from it. And it’s not that I don’t think there are many amazing things that can be done on the World Wide Web.

To be fair, Albert Breer of NFL Network pointed out that in terms of television markets, Portland would be bigger than almost 40 percent of the current franchises:

I’m just skeptical of anything that originates in the form of an online petition. I keep expecting to see a pop-up window tell me that if I sign the petition today, I’ll also receive a free set of steak knives if I’m willing to fork over my credit card, bank account and mortgage information.

To its credit, the people behind the petition have taken the stadium issue into account, according to the wording of the petition:

"“While there is typically a significant public cost to building an NFL stadium, the state of Oregon should actively pursue feasibility studies, projections and explore the possibilities. The study should explore the possibilities of a new NFL stadium-centric development surrounded by ancillary mixed-use development designed to bring multiple benefits to Portland and surrounding areas, including economic, real estate, retail, tourism, entertainment, sports, recreation, cultural and community pride benefits. The signees of this petition support further exploration of this.”"

From a logical standpoint, the Raiders make sense. O.co Coliseum is almost 50 years old and Raiders owner Mark Davis alluded to the chance of a relocation if the team can’t get a new stadium—the age-old game of franchise roulette.

"“I don’t want to call it a last-ditch effort, but it does seem to be the last chance that Oakland is going to get,” Davis told the San Francisco Chronicle last week. “We can’t continue to play in that stadium, with the baseball field and all of that stuff.”"

Davis also said, however, that he doesn’t want to talk about using someplace else for leverage. Apparently, he wants to be the first owner in the history of professional sports not to invoke the “we’re gonna move to (insert location here)” strategy.

According to whois.net, the registration for the nfltoportland.com website is private and was registered through GoDaddy.

And that might be the ultimate source of skepticism behind the proposal. Where are the deep pockets that will be required to make an NFL team in Portland happen? It’s an era when municipalities aren’t particularly receptive to the idea of dropping hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) on a stadium, but Mark Davis doesn’t seem like a guy who’s that interested in doing so, either.

When in doubt, follow the money. At least on the surface, the NFL to Portland drive doesn’t appear to have any.

That makes following easier, anyway.