It’s official: the Yakima Bears (short season A; Northwest League) are moving to a new Hillsboro (Ore.) ballpark next year, after the two sides agreed on a lease today.
It’s not a surprise: the two sides had agreed on a term sheet earlier, so there were only some small details to work out before the Hillsboro City Council approved the measure today on a 5-0 vote. Team owners Mike and Laura McMurray and GM K.L. Wombacher were on hand to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with the assembled crowd after the vote.
Under the provisions of the lease — detailed here — the Bears will pay $150,000 annually in rent, rising by 3 percent annually for the 20-year term. The team will retain all ballpark revenue, with the city keeping parking revenue and a $1 ticket surcharge. Hillsboro will keep 70 percent of any naming-rights revenue, with the team keeping 30 percent. The city will issue bonds to pay for the new facility; in an unusual move these days, city general funds could be invoked to pay off bonds should rent, parking and ticket revenue not be enough to cover debt. (This seems likely: if the team draws 180,000 fans annually and the city makes an average naming-rights deal, ballpark revenues should total $855,000 or so annually.) The $15.2 million figure discussed here is the total cost of the project, including bonding costs. Hillsboro will manage the ballpark and retain the right to hold events there on non-game days.
Groundbreaking of the ballpark is tentatively set for October, with a June 2013 opening planned. Hoffman Construction will design and build the new facility. The Bears’ lease in Yakima runs through 2015 but can be broken if the team pays a penalty.
The move marks the return of professional baseball to the greater Portland area, left vacant when the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) moved to Tucson. Another ballpark effort in nearby Milwaukie is also underway.
Image courtesy of Hillsboro.
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