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Hillsboro looking at riskier financing for new ballpark

New Hillsboro ballpark

Hillsboro (Ore.) officials are looking at using general city funds, instead of a standard municipal bond, to fund a new ballpark for the relocating Yakima Bears (short season A; Northwest League).

Engaged in a race with Milwaukie to bring Minor League Baseball back to the greater Portland area, Hillsboro officials made an offer to the Bears ownership that led to a lease but not to a ballpark financing plan. Since the lease was signed, city officials have done more work on the financing plan — with construction on the new ballpark set to start in two weeks — and settled on a plan to pay ballpark debt through the city’s general fund.

It’s not unusual for cities to fund large projects with general funds, but it is unusual these days to use general funds (backed by property taxes) to fund a ballpark. Normally you see cities issue bonds specifically for a ballpark project, backed by things like rent and anticipated revenues. By going this route, Hillsboro will probably pay a higher interest rate and assume more risk on the full-faith bond. On the flip side, issuing a full-faith bond doesn’t require voter approval — and Hillsboro voters have voted down the last six attempts at bonding.

The 4,500-seat ballpark at the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex is set to open for the 2013 season.

RELATED STORIES: Hillsboro ballpark groundbreaking set for Sept. 21Hillsboro approves offer sheet to Yakima BearsHillsboro set to vote on new ballpark; Milwaukie will delay decisionMilwaukie advances, Hillsboro retreats in Portland-area ballpark raceYakima 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 ballparkYakima Bears to Portland area


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