By 750 THE GAME STAFF
With the effort to bring Major League Baseball to Portland in limbo, another contender has emerged as a candidate for future Major League Baseball expansion.
Salt Lake City officially tossed its hat in the ring on Wednesday. The group dubbed ‘Big League Utah’ has formally put together an ownership collective led by the former owner of the Utah Jazz, Gail Miller, and the Larry H. Miller company.
An MLB team would be the fourth professional franchise in Salt Lake City, joining the Jazz, Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, and the Salt Lake Bees of Triple-A minor league baseball.
The Salt Lake City group joins similar efforts in Nashville as well as the Portland Diamond Project as leading expansion candidates. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is reportedly eyeing spring 2024 to seriously consider expansion, and he told ESPN’s Jeff Passan he wants MLB to get to 32 teams (currently at 30).
How will Portland respond to this added competition?
“It should be a wake up call,” John Canzano said Wednesday on 750 The Game. “When you see a city like Salt Lake City who’s got its act together, who has an ownership group, who has political will… they’re positioning themselves as a viable MLB city.
“Organizations get wake up calls. Teams get wake-up calls. People get wake-up calls. Portland needs to set that alarm and it needs to set it now.”
Even Dale Murphy, two-time National League MVP and Portland native who is part of the Portland Diamond Project’s efforts, has officially joined the Big League Utah cause.
“I had mixed feelings when I saw Murph quoted in the piece about Salt Lake City,” Canzano said. “I understand why they called Dale Murphy. But I thought he was part of the Diamond Project. I felt a little bit betrayed by seeing Dale Murphy come out in support of Major League Baseball to Salt Lake City.”
As far as the Portland Diamond Project is concerned, Canzano says the ship has sailed on trying to get a stadium built downtown.
“If Portland had its act together, you’d have City Hall going, ‘Hey, build a stadium at the Lloyd Center,” Canzano said. “Take what is a problem for the city, and let’s turn that into a positive, right? That would take vision, that would take initiative, that would take somebody with some guts and somebody who is not afraid to dream.
“But I don’t think leadership in Portland can think its way out of a paper bag.”
Listen to the segment on Big League Utah and what it means for the Portland Diamond Project at the start of the podcast below. And listen to John Canzano deliver the Bald Faced Truth afternoons 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.