During this morning’s Boardroom Breakfast, held at the Red Cross Building at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, attendees were able to hear from Craig Cheek, founder and president of the Portland Diamond Project. Cheek chatted with Vancouver Business Journal Co-Publisher and President of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce President John McDonagh, and answered a variety of questions about his time working with Nike and his ambitions for the Portland Diamond Project.
The Portland Diamond Project aims to bring Major League Baseball and a new ballpark to Portland.
Here are 10 things we learned about Craig and the Portland Diamond Project:
- Although Craig’s first job as a child was picking berries at local farms, his first real job was working at Discount Fabrics on Fourth Plain, where he painted bins, did stocking, etc. He also had a job at a Hi-School Pharmacy while he attended high school.
- Craig attended the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman, focusing on sports broadcasting. He was scheduled to do his internship at KGW, but decided to veer off into the business world, taking a job with Hilton Hotels.
- Craig applied for a job with Nike, and although they said he would be perfect, he was told they typically didn’t hire people from the hotel industry, and that he first needed to get a job in retail. From there, he worked at Nordstrom in the Vancouver Mall and learned the shoe business there.
- Craig moved to the largest Nordstrom store in the Southwest Plaza in Costa Mesa, and soon realized their shoe department had no athletic shoes. He made a call to his Nike sales rep, and was later asked to come on board with Nike as a sales rep.
- Because of Nike’s incredibly quick growth during the years that Craig was employed with them, he had 16 different jobs at Nike during his 26 years there.
- The last athlete that Craig had the opportunity to sign with Nike was Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson.
- Two of the original investors of the Portland Diamond Project are Russell Wilson and his wife, Ciara.
- After retiring from Nike two years ago, Craig said he still had an itch to scratch, and when he heard Portland mentioned as a city that could have the potential for baseball expansion, he jumped on it.
- The Portland Diamond Project aims to bring MLB to Portland. Currently, the movement is building a fan base, and they currently have about 35,000 signatures on a petition to bring MLB to Portland.
- Craig’s vision of a ballpark in Portland is a small, intimate ballpark with around 32,000 seats.