News came out on Friday that the Eugene Emeralds have been told by Major League Baseball that they need to find a new home ballpark by 2025, because their current field, PK Park, is not a suitable long-term home.
PK Park does not currently have some of the requirements for stadiums that MLB’s upgraded standards focus on. They do not have an on-site visitor’s locker room, nor do they have locker rooms for women who are coaches or umpires to change in, among other things.
PK Park also has a new scheduling conflict. The stadium is home to the NCAA’s Oregon Ducks, and they get priority on all ends with scheduling, whether it’s for games or for practices or other uses. That was not a big deal when the Northwest League was a Short-Season A-Ball league, but when MLB promoted it to a full-season league, the schedule now overlaps with the NCAA season in the spring and early summer.
In comments to KEZI in Oregon, Emeralds General Manager Allan Benavides talked about what they are looking at. “We’ve looked at different locations in Springfield, we’ve looked at different locations in Eugene,” says Allan Benavides, Eugene Emeralds General Manager. “That’s the number one goal. The simple fact is if we don’t find something, Major League Baseball will move the team to somewhere they can build the facility.”
The Emeralds moved to PK Park in 2009 from Civic Park in Eugene. That stadium was destroyed in 2015 by a fire, and the space has since been renovated into other recreational facilities, including a soccer field for the local Lane United Football Club.
Benavides talked about using a new Emeralds stadium as a community-focused facility, that could also host local and regional baseball games and do other sorts of events that can’t be done at PK Park. “If we had our own stadium, if we could get back into the neighborhood and have an Ems stadium, it would give it that community feel that we had at Civic Stadium. But having our own stadium going back to our roots as a community ballpark, that’s the goal. That’s what we want.”
KEZI reports that the Emeralds have submitted a proposal for use of nine acres of space in Glenwood, an unincorporated area that sits between Springfield and Eugene, just east of the University of Oregon. It would allow for a new, riverfront stadium. The site also has other proposals that Springfield is hearing, including one for a new stadium for Lane United FC, in an attempt to get them to a higher level league.
The Emeralds are owned by Elmore Sports Group, which owns seven minor league baseball teams (two of which were moved to “Partner Leagues” in the recent minor league re-organization), as well as one minor league hockey team. The owner of the Elmore Sports Group, David G. Elmore, also owns an ownership stake in the Lane United FC.
Most of the new Minor League commitments are ten-year terms, compared to the two-year terms that existed before the 2020 reorganization of MiLB. Eugene having a five-year term is an example of the contracts that are being given to teams that still have significant stadium issues that need to be addressed, or else MLB will find other options.
The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the Giants former affiliate and who was left out of minor league baseball with comments about their facility’s suitability, had a moment of schadenfreude at the news.