LPGA Pulls Tournament From Portland Venue Over Concerns About Player Safety, Homeless Encampment
Tents sit at a camp set up for people experiencing homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic in Southeast Portland, Oregon, U.S., on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Governors of California, Oregon and Washington, who are coordinating plans, say they won't ease stay-home orders until they've established systems to spot new cases, find everyone who's come into contact with infected people and test as many as possible. Photographer: Moriah Ratner/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photographer: Moriah Ratner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The city of Portland has had a tumultuous year. 

Mass protests — some would call riots — took place for months on end after the death of George Floyd, the city removed $15 million from the Portland Police Bureau’s budget, and homelessness has become a major issue. According to The Daily Wire, Portland saw 50 murders in 2020 — a 52% increase from the 33 murders in 2019.

One of Oregon’s longest annual golf events — the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic — has taken notice and is moving its 2021 tournament away from Portland to Oregon Golf Club in West Linn. 

The decision was made due to safety concerns, as organizers of the tournament cited a nearby homeless encampment as the reason for the move. 

“It was a really tough decision,” said Tom Maletis, president of the Tournament Golf Foundation. “We are frustrated and disappointed about the move. But it’s just something that we feel is best for the tournament and everyone involved.” The Tournament Golf Foundation is the Portland-based nonprofit organization that runs the event. 

The event was scheduled to take place at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, a private golf club located on the edge of the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. According to The Oregonian, the area around the golf course has become overwhelmed by one of the city’s largest homeless encampments. 

The encampment is located close to the entrance to the private golf club, surrounding a nearby parking lot where attendees, players, and media would park their vehicles for the tournament. 

The Oregonian states, “Both sides of 33rd (a nearby road) are dotted with run-down RVs, trailers, tents, makeshift housing structures, and mounds of rubble and garbage. As Portland’s homeless crisis has spiraled further out of control during the coronavirus pandemic, the stretch of road has quietly grown into one of the city’s largest encampments, transforming a tree-lined stretch with large bike lanes into an eyesore, fire hazard and — Portland Classic organizers say — a safety hazard.”

Organizers and officials from the city have been working on a solution — officials told the organizers the hope was to have the area around the course cleaned up before the September tournament — but were unable to get a guarantee, thus the decision to move the event. 

“They gave us some positive feedback,” Maletis said. “It’s possible a solution could have come to fruition. But it wasn’t anything we could rely on and we were not completely convinced our concerns would be addressed and taken care of it. As much as we wanted to kind of hang tight and hope everything would be all right, we just didn’t really know.”

“With so much planning with the golf course and their staff‚” Maletis continued, “and so much infrastructure that has to be completed, we were running up against a deadline to put on a first-class tournament and have time available to execute what has to be done to stage an event of this magnitude.”

Travel Portland released a statement following the news of the tournament’s relocation:

We were disappointed to learn of LPGA’s decision to relocate the Cambia Tournament to another nearby golf course in Oregon. Of course, we respect their decision. Travel Portland works with the organizer to arrange hotel blocks and we still expect to see some business from the tournament. We hope they have a successful tournament and we will do everything we can to bring this tournament back to Portland next year.

The Portland Classic is just the latest sporting event to be impacted by Portland’s safety issues. The NCAA denied the city’s bid to host the Women’s Final Four in October 2020, citing concerns over the city’s declining image and the state of downtown Portland. 

Portland is also attempting to bring a Major League Baseball franchise to the city but is running into roadblocks as violence in the city has become a major issue. 

According to The Oregonian, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was set to travel to Portland after last year’s World Series to discuss possible expansion, but the meeting was canceled after the Oregon Historical Society was vandalized by rioters. 

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].

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