A Week Jammed with MLB…
If we told you that some of the top executives from Major League Baseball would be in town for a face to face meeting, that a state senate committee would conduct a hearing on stadium construction legislation, and the almost “Portland” Expos would be only 175 tantalizing miles and a little bus-trip away – yielding more than 15 broadcast and print stories – you’d probably say,
“That’s not a bad month.”
However, all that occurred in less than 72 hours last week. Not to mention recent favorable editorial items from the Medford Mail Tribune (espousing the tourism benefits that will accrue throughout Oregon) and Eugene Register-Guard (endorsing the MLB Jobs Bill). Here’s the week that was, in case you couldn’t catch up with all the details:
Strong Pitch to State Senate Committee
The Oregon Stadium Campaign presented a very detailed and determined case to the Oregon State Senate Rules Committee on HB 3606 – also known as the MLB Jobs Bill – last Thursday in Salem.
State Senator Kate Brown, co-chair of the committee, called the presentation “very compelling.”
Covering all bases, from job creation to economic development to stimulating the statewide tourism industry to quality of life, the 90-minute presentation even managed to turn one previously undecided observer from rural Oregon into a strong proponent of the bill. The gentleman from Sublimity was so emphatic in his newfound support, that some elected officials asked if he was a plant. He was NOT!
The Rules Committee will conduct more due diligence over the coming days before scheduling a vote on the measure. If passed in the Rules Committee, HB 3606 is currently on track to be referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, but there’s growing momentum for simply sending it directly to the full Senate for a vote.
Now is the time to reach out with personal contacts to all key state senators.
Governor Kulongoski Supports the Bill
At that same hearing, Howard Lavine, a policy adviser to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, proclaimed the Governor’s strong endorsement of the MLB Jobs Bill.
“He’s comfortable supporting the bill because of the extraordinary protection to the state and taxpayers,” Lavine said. “He’s satisfied that House Bill 3606 meets his bottom line requirements.”
OSC Tour Stop
And at almost the exact same time as the Salem testimony, 55 hard-core fans were traveling up I-5 in an OSC custom-coach bus, fully stocked with pizza and pop courtesy of Mayor Vera Katz and others, to see Portland’s potential home team of next year taking on the Seattle Mariners. As the 12th and final television camera left our crew to enjoy the game, the hearing was just winding down in Salem. We’ll let you decide who had the most fun as you read the following excerpt quoting Montreal Expos General Manager Omar Minaya from a story in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
A group of fans bused up from Portland to see the game last night. But this group was up to see the Expos, the team Portland hopes to lure West.
“That’s a first for me,” Minaya said. “I’m glad they’re coming to support our club. We have a good team to watch.”
MLB Executives Drill Down with the Mayor & Governor’s staff
By the end of the week’s whirlwind it was almost easy to forget that three of MLB’s key executives had come to town for the first face to face meetings since March with OSC leaders, Mayor Katz and staff and representatives of the Governor’s office.
Emerging from several hours of intensive meetings, Mayor Katz told a horde of media that it was time for Portland to show cautious optimism in it’s attempts to land the Montreal Expos. With OSC leader David Kahn at her side, Katz & Kahn summarized the meeting as another in a series of important steps that still need to take place and said MLB remained quite encouraging of Portland’s efforts to secure the Expos before the relocation committee reports to Commissioner Bud Selig in mid-July – though much work remains in that tight time frame. MLB executives did view PGE Park and asked a number of questions about the use of the stadium as a temporary home for the Expos.
Later that same day, at lunch with numerous supporters, the MLB executives were informed that Oregon’s list of supporting civic, business and non-profit organizations has grown to nearly 600, with the recent addition of Fred Meyer and many others.
Oregon CARE Package
The final exclamation point to the week came when The Oregonian’s John Hunt captured an eye-opening quote from Montreal Expos relief pitcher Dan Smith, while Smith was preparing for a game at SAFECO field. He was discussing the Expos’ travel schedule and said how much he hoped that Portland would land his team saying “I think Portland would be a great place to call home.”
Let’s just say the good folks at the Portland Oregon Visitors Association took note and sent off a special Oregon care package to Smith to share with his teammates and make sure they know exactly just how welcome they would be, should MLB send the Expos our way.