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Another attempt to tame Portland market: Hillsboro proposes new ballpark

Proposed Hillsboro ballpark

Another attempt to bring pro baseball back to the Portland (Ore.) market: Hillsboro officials are pitching a $14-million ballpark for a short-season Northwest League team.

The proposed ballpark would come at an existing baseball complex in the city: Field Four at Gordon Faber Recreation Complex. We’re talking a basic ballpark here, but one that would certainly serve the needs of a short-A team: 4,000 seats, entry plaza, outfield berm and picnic seating, beer garden and covered grandstand. If approved this month, we could see a ballpark opening for the 2013 season.

The plan is the third Portland-area proposal to come down the pike in recent months, and it may have the best chance of happening. The city says it has the financial wherewithal to fund a new ballpark for an unnamed Northwest League team (previous suitors of the Portland market: the Yakima Bears and the Tri-City Dust Devils) without any need for anything past rent: city-backed bonds are envisioned as the only funding source.

Hillsboro isn’t the only ballpark plan on the table: Milwaukie officials continue to look at a plan for a Northwest League ballpark in that city. The plan from Milwaukie calls for 4,000-seat ballpark to be built on the Portland-Milwaukie light-rail corridor at a a state-owned maintenance yard. The site also includes a 1938 historic structure that could be converted to a brewpub. 

One question emerges: could we see a two-ballpark situation in Portland? Hillsboro is an outer suburb to the west; Milwaukie is closer to Portland, to the south, and served by mass transit. Two ballparks in both cities would only be 25 miles apart, but the real distance is far more when you take into account travel time. Conventional thought, of course, would dictate that only one Northwest League team be placed in the Portland area, especially with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes just an hour away. But it would sure lower the costs of running a ballpark if you had three teams in the same general area and two in a top-25 MSA. Portland is probably the most attractive open market in Minor League Baseball after the loss of the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), along with Orlando.

Speaking of the Yakima Bears: the team is still struggling with ballpark issues and whether to stay at Yakima County Stadium. The ballpark is 20 years old and pretty much financially obsolete. The Bears ownership had worked hard on either a new ballpark or renovated facility in Yakima before turning to Clark County, an effort that ultimately failed when the county board of commissioners rejected a funding plan for a Clark College ballpark. GM K.L. Wombacher told the Yakima Herald-Tribune the emphasis now is working on renovations to the ballpark, but hints the team could be moved if there was a solid destination. 

RELATED STORIES: Yakima County: We’ll discuss ballpark upgradesPlan B for Bears: Work on Yakima ballpark planAdmissions tax voted down in Clark CountyMilwaukie seeks public input on new ballparkMilwaukie moves ahead with ballpark-feasibility studyClark County postpones ballpark hearingCounty scales back commitment to Portland-area ballparkCompeting ballpark plans in PortlandNew Portland-area ballpark could provide economical bump: studyClark County reverses course; will exclusively negotiate with BearsClark County passes on exclusive negotiations with Bears; opposition to new ballpark risesFunding plan emerges for new Clark County ballpark;Yakima Bears to Portland area


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