The ownership group headed by Padres owner Jeff Moorad has reached a working agreement to purchase the Triple-A Portland Beavers, Portland owner Merritt Paulson announced yesterday.
The sale is pending approval by Minor League Baseball and the Pacific Coast League—Moorad's North County Baseball group already has received approval by Major League League Baseball when it purchased the Padres in 2009. The sale is expected to be completed in early December, before the start of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 6.
Paulson's announcement confirms the inevitable—that the team is leaving Portland. Moorad is planning on moving the club to Tucson for at least one season until a permanent location is finalized. The group is currently negotiating with the San Diego suburb of Escondido on a ballpark/retail project. The Padres are confident an agreement will be reached.
The Beavers were forced to pull out of Portland after this season after Paulson had agreed to convert their ballpark, PGE Park, into a soccer-only facility for his Major League Soccer team. Paulson had believed he would be able to construct a new ballpark elsewhere in the Portland area, but voters and local leaders rejected his three proposals for a new facility.
"As I have expressed many times, moving the team from the Portland area represents a professional and personal disappointment for me," Paulson said in a statement. "It was not the outcome we anticipated and expected. It remains my strong belief that just as the Beavers returned to Portland in 2001 after being moved to Salt Lake City in the 1990s, Triple-A baseball will again return to Portland; only this time the return will be to a permanent baseball-specific ballpark home where the franchise can flourish and succeed. I remain committed to aiding in that effort as I can."
Though the Padres are planning on moving to Tucson next season, no deal has been finalized. "The discussions and negotiations are focusing on Tucson," Rickey said, "but I think to define that as a resolved issue is premature."
Moorad's group cannot officially request a transfer until the sale has closed. Once the sale is complete, the team is planning on proposing a transfer to Tucson, several sources said. Though they have not decided on which of Tucson's two ballparks to play at, one source familiar with the process said they are leaning toward Hi-Corbett Field—in part because of its location and appeal with local residents.