Bears reaffirm commitment to Vancouver

Milwaukie, Ore., has interest in a Class A baseball team

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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The city of Milwaukie, Ore., wants a Class A baseball team from the eight-team Northwest League, but a spokesman for Short Season LLC said Monday the Yakima Bears are committed to trying to move to Vancouver.

On Tuesday, the Milwaukie City Council will hear an update on the city’s goal of landing a minor league team.

In April, the city council called minor league baseball a “high-priority economic development initiative.”

Both the Bears’ bid to move to Vancouver and Milwaukie’s efforts to land a team are part of a rush to fill the largest metropolitan market without a professional baseball team.

Kenny Asher, director of Community Development & Public Works for Milwaukie, said Monday he spoke in January to owners of all the Northwest teams, with the exception of the owner of the Eugene Emeralds.

Ron Arp, a spokesman for Short Season LLC, said Monday the Bears are committed to negotiating with Clark County.

The Bears have exclusive negotiating rights in the Portland market until mid-September, Arp said.

Under a proposal to build a $22.7 million stadium at Clark College, the college would provide the land and parking spaces.

The multiuse stadium would be used by Clark College and community teams, as the Bears would only use it for 38 baseball games a year.

County commissioners voted 2-1 last week to continue negotiating with the Bears’ owners, who have proposed a 70-30 public-private split for capital costs and offered to pay ongoing maintenance and operations costs.

The public’s portion would be an estimated $900,000 a year collected from a proposed 5 percent countywide entertainment admissions tax.

Officials have asked for alternatives to the admissions tax.

The commissioners will have a work session on the financing at 10 a.m. Aug. 24 at the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St.

In Milwaukie, a financing plan for a $20 million to $30 million stadium has not been identified. The city’s partners include the McMenamin brothers.

Arp said one complication with putting a team in Milwaukie (which is in Clackamas County) is that the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes play in Marion County and minor league baseball typically does not allow teams in adjacent counties.