OLYMPIA - Sports fans all over the Northwest could soon be cheering for a new, major league baseball team. At least, that's the hope of Sen. Mark Doumit, D-Cathlamet.

Doumit introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 8405, which makes the case for a Portland-Vancouver big league baseball team. The area is one of a handful on the short list to receive a Major League Baseball franchise.

"In many ways, this is already a big league town. Bringing a team here would be a great way to showcase everything the area has to offer. And it would give a major economic boost to Southwest Washington," Doumit said.

A major league baseball team would bring more tourism to the area and create new small business opportunities, according to Doumit. He said a new baseball team would bring more than 200 full-time jobs to the area, and more than 1,400 part-time jobs to support stadium operations.

With over 2 million people, the Portland-Vancouver area is the largest market in the country without a major league baseball team. In fact, it is the largest market with only one major professional sports franchise, the Portland Trailblazers basketball team.

Not to mention, the area gets less rain during the baseball season than 13 other cities that currently have major league baseball teams. So, games are less likely to get rained out.

"It's also good for international relations. The Seattle Mariners have been great ambassadors throughout the Pacific Rim and all over the world," Doumit said.

, adding that the team is scheduled to play four games next month in Tokyo.

"And of course, major league baseball is a natural for kids and families," Doumit said. "I look at players like Ichiro and think about the impact they have on kids. It's important for kids to have positive role models like that."

Doumit knows first-hand how positive sports role models can affect young people. His cousin, Willie Bloomquist, plays second base and outfield for the Seattle Mariners. Bloomquist grew up in Port Orchard, Washington and graduated from South Kitsap High School.

He also has a nephew, Ryan Doumit, who is a catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Ryan Doumit grew up in Moses Lake, Washington and graduated from Moses Lake High School where he was named first-team All-Conference, second-team All-American, and All-State in baseball.

"These were both small town kids who had a chance to make it in the big leagues," Doumit said. "It's proof that through hard work and dedication, dreams can come true. I hope we get the chance to bring in a whole new group of Northwest sports heroes."

The resolution creates a bipartisan committee of legislators to make recommendations on ways to support and assist Portland-Vancouver in its bid for a Major League Baseball franchise. It was referred to the Senate Economic Development Committee and needs to be voted out of the committee before it can be debated on the Senate floor.

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