October 18th 2017 - I read an article by John Canzano titled “MLB to Portland? It’s time for this city to be more than a Portlandia joke.” Being a local kid, loving sports and having a passion for this city and community I was struck to the core by the chance of this becoming a real thing. Major league baseball to Portland.. another professional sports team to root for… the chance to take my one day kids to a warm baseball game on a sunny summer day… this sounded like something from a dream! After taking a few days for this to sink in, and trying to formulate how I and the Portland Gear team could add value to the movement, I knew we needed to reached out to the newest member of the Portland Diamond Project, and voice of my childhood, Mike Barrett, former announcer of the Portland Trail Blazers.
October 24th 2017 - I reached out to Canzano and asked if he’d be willing to connect me with Mike via email. As I poured out my love for this city, passion for sports, appreciation for our local teams, I pitched the idea of a PDP x Portland Gear t-shirt to help spread the word. As I hit send I wished for the best but wasn't expecting to hear back for awhile, if at all. 1 hour later I received an awesome response from Mike who was very familiar with who I was from his days with the Blazers and my connections to the players and staff. He filled me in on the progress of the group, when they would announce, and that they had a brand guy working on the project and it was just too early for a collaboration. I remembered one thing though, how confident Mike was in this project and how much he believed in the group, city, and the way things were trending.
March 8th 2018 - A few months had passed and I’d been watching the news daily waiting for any sort of announcement about the PDP or any nugget of info that would make me think progress was being made. I sent Mike a quick email to see if anything was coming out or if we could do a shirt and he reassured me progress was being made, but nothing public or breaking yet. “I'll hit you back and let you know where things stand soon.”
March 22rd 2018 - I’ve had a great mentor at a local development company for many years and we were to look at a building in NW that had potential to be an investment property or future PG headquarter space. After viewing the building I didn’t think the project, area, where we were as a business or timing was right. I wasn't passionate about an old building, and I left that walk through thinking this isn't where my heart is or something that makes me excited everyday.
March 23rd 2018 - I woke up the next morning after a weird, restless nights sleep thinking about the future of Portland Gear, what type of legacy we wanted to leave on the city and how we could expand our reach while deepening our roots. At the time I was living above the Portland Gear store and in my short commute down the elevator that morning I thought to myself, “I wonder what the Portland Diamond Projects plan is for local investors, that’s something I could get behind!” I had just read an article about how the LAFC Soccer team brought on a handful of local investors who brought value to the project and wondered if PDP would be taking a similar approach. I’d had a goal for many years to own a professional sports team but never thought this wild dream would become a reality. I told myself I had nothing to lose by asking and at worst it gave me another excuse to email Mike and stay on his radar.
At 9:21 AM I hit send on a simple email asking if they were looking for small, local investors and if we could get involved. In that moment I had myself convinced if there was even a chance of “yes” I was willing to sacrifice whatever I needed to make this a reality. Like previous emails, I wasn't convinced I’d hear back, but 10 minutes later Mike replied and said it was incredibly important for this project to have local investors as seed money to get it off the ground and they were looking for people who loved the community, believed in the mission of the movement and wanted this as bad as they did. In that moment my life was changed. The door was open and I wanted to sprint through it!
In investing in the Portland Diamond Project I and my team have been able to fulfill childhood dreams, build buzz, add value where we can (making and selling merchandise, MLB themed corn maze, opening the PDP Pop up store in our office and helping plan events) and starting to get others as excited about this project as we are. Money was never the motivator with this, heck I honestly have no clue what will even happen in that regard. I dream of the day I can take my wife Noelle and future kids to the ballpark for a warm summer game, run around the concourse, collect autographs, create memories, and begin building the next generation of loyal sports fans. I dream of opening day with my employees and watching a packed stadium of Portland lovers like us. Our motivation has always been to be part of something big, something we have to be patient with and work our asses of for many years, something we can one day hang our P caps on. Me and my Portland Gear team (Eli, Mack, Cortney, Zack, Robbie, Kenzie) are 100% in on this project! Not a second has gone by that we’ve doubting this happening and that’s in large part to the leaders of the ship, Mike and Craig, who’ve had unwavering belief since that first email in 2017. They’re incredible people to be moving this project along and our faith in them and the team they’ve aligned is strong. When we first got involved we believed in this because they did, now we believe in it because you all do, and the support we’ve received over the last 8 months has been truly amazing.
I love sports, I think they create so much civic pride and unforgettable moments. From being a 10 year old kid and and making my dad leave the Blazer Laker playoff game and hour early so we could go down by the player cars to get my home depot wood sample signed by a bench player, to family drives to Eugene on Saturdays to root on our Ducks, to seeing the Timbers make a magical run to the championship and watching our Thorns as the most attended women's sports team in the world, sports change things. I know because they’ve changed me, and I hope you join me in letting this project change you. We’ll see you all on opening day.