Eugene Emeralds Strike  Out In Stadium Game

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The team could be moving soon.

Residents of Jackson County, Missouri and Eugene, Oregon apparently are not very impressed with Major and Minor League Baseball owners asking them for public dollars to fund baseball stadiums. On April 2nd, Jackson County voters said no to extending a sales tax and using that money to build a new ballpark for MLB’s Kansas City Royals’ owner John Sherman. On May 21st, voters in Eugene declined to approve a $15 million bond, which would have helped fund a new minor-league baseball stadium at the Lane County Fairgrounds.

In 2021, MLB came up with new guidelines for minor league teams for stadiums. Emeralds’ ownership went to the Lane County Commissioners to explain what it needed to do to satisfy MLB’s guidelines looking for money to cover the cost of a new stadium. The Emeralds’ ownership thought it had about $57 million on hand from various sources for the project but that left a $43 million shortfall. Because time was ticking away with a 2025 deadline to get a new Eugene stadium deal done, the feeling was that the May 21st vote was the best opportunity to keep the team in town. With the apparent loss, Emeralds’ ownership and MLB probably will start the process of moving the team to a town where elected officials are willing to spend money on a stadium for a low-level minor league baseball franchise. The Emeralds’ franchise has been in Eugene since 1955 and for most of the franchise’s history has been a member of the Northwest League with the exception of five seasons from 1969 through 1973 when the team played in the Triple A Pacific Coast League. No never means never in the stadium game but unless there is a creative alternative solution, minor league baseball will exit Eugene and head for greener pastures.

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Evan can be reached at evan_weiner@hotmail.com