For those that recall the relocation derby for the Montreal Expos, the process involved several cities that were vying for the chance to host them, with one of those cities being Portland, OR. Portland passed stadium funding that has no sunset date within it, should an MLB team ever locate to the city.
The Biz of Basketball has an interview with the man who was the head of the MLB-to-Portland effort during 2003-2004. That man is David Kahn, the former General Manager of the Indiana Pacers, and someone who owns several NBA Development League franchises in the Southwest. Here's an excerpt of that interview:
Bizball: You were deeply involved in the effort to bring Major League Baseball to your hometown of Portland. What was that process like compared to the effort to get Canceco Fieldhouse built?
Kahn: Quite different. In Indiana, we were able to demonstrate to the elected officials and public that a new building was mandatory to keeping something they already had, the Pacers. In Portland, we had the proverbial if-we-build-it-will-they-come dilemma -- it's very difficult persuading lawmakers to provide financing for something that is ethereal. In the end, however, I think we had some extraordinary accomplishments -- a $150 million financing bill passed by the Oregon Legislature (which doesn't sunset) and subsequent planning with then-Mayor Vera Katz on the local pieces that could have contributed to the plan. We did all this in the midst of several economic crises and in the Pacific Northwest, where, historically, as the Sonics are learning, it is nearly impossible to convince lawmakers and the business community to build a new arena or stadium with public financing.
The rest of the interview covers Kahn’s rapid rise into the NBA as a sports executive; his time at NBA Showtime, his views on working within the salary cap; his involvement in the development of Canceco Fieldhouse; his thoughts on the sudden and tragic death of Dennis Johnson, who Kahn had hired to coach the Toros; the players he was the most proud of signing to the Pacers during his time as GM; the future of the NBDL, and much more.
Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.
He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.