I can see both the opportunity and frustration associated with the announcement by the City of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro Hops to build a new ballpark on top of three heavily used recreation ball fields. While I am a supporter of the Hops, I am an even more ardent supporter of youth sports.
That is why I am becoming increasingly frustrated with this issue. As described in this article (https://www.
I have to say this is a bad idea. The location, while conveniently located along Cornelius Pass Road a few miles south of US26, has horrible and limited parking, and the proximity to neighborhoods makes it a bad fit.
Instead, HSD should advocate for the installation of turf ballfields — baseball and softball — at each of the high schools. The schools are already zoned for this type of activity, each has plenty of parking, AND it affords the high school teams quality facilities…which they desperately need. This year, we are sitting at the 5th rainiest April on record…on the heels of the rainiest April in 2022. Why not use this opportunity to invest in our high school programs…both boys and girls?
I am the father of a high school softball player (Liberty HS). Between 2022 and 2023, my daughter’s team played a total of 4(!) home games on its field. Four! Mother Nature willing, they will get a few more games in. Each season they should be hosting 10-12. My guess is Century and HilHi are in similar boats. The outlier is Glencoe, with its softball turf field. As a result, Glencoe is presented a competitive advantage by being able to play EVERY home game at home, and they have a dedicated training facility adjacent to the field. Why shouldn’t the other programs get the same opportunity? Instead, Liberty, Century, and HilHi teams must share indoor training space, scramble to find a replacement field when it rains, AND the players lose the pride of playing on their home field. All of this creates stress and a competitive disadvantage.
I want to acknowledge HSD’s improvements to the Liberty and Century softball facilities over the past year (new bullpens, new siding on the dugouts, foul ball poles, etc). Still, I strongly encourage the HSD to pursue and advocate for significant investments in the high school ballfields, creating year-round and long-term opportunities, rather than accepting an alternative that will generate future headaches and perpetuate existing problems.
These improved fields can then be used to support the local, regional, and national tournaments that rely on the Gordon Faber facilities. Rental fees from these tournaments can then be used for maintenance.
If possible, the youth tournament directors, players and coaches, and HSD parents should be consulted to ensure any future developments are sound and supportable.
Thank you, Matt. Great analysis and ideas! Please keep them coming in.
If you want to share your opinions with the Herald and the people of Hillsboro, email us at HillsboroHerald@gmail.com and we will review your input for inclusion. Thank you!
I organize youth baseball tournaments around the northwest. The Hillsboro School District has really fallen behind when it comes to turf baseball and softball fields. All of the baseball and softball fields in the N. Clackamas School district have at least turf infields, Tigard and Sherwood High Schools have turf fields, most of the Beaverton Schools either have them already or they are planned in the near future. West Linn has multiple turf fields for youth baseball/softball, both Lake Oswego high schools have them.
While your solution of using school fields for tournaments sounds great, the Hillsboro School district is not accommodating to tournament organizers. Every time I have requested field rentals this year at Hillsboro schools the requests have been denied by the Athletic Director of the schools without explanation. I guess all of the high school programs in Hillsboro have all of the funds they need. This includes all of the Hillsboro High Schools. Therefore, even though I live in Cornelius and would prefer to support the local schools, I have been renting fields in the North Clackamas School District regularly this season.
I was wondering about that- our schools should not be expected to be as accommodating as our Parks Department. In my view, the City of Hillsboro has to man up here and buy land to replace these fields with. Bottom line- the kids and adults who need Rec league and youth fields need them replaced acre for acre and to take no downgrade- it should be an upgrade if anything! Great point from both of gentlemen!
Really the city of Hillsboro should not only be looking to replace the fields lost they should be looking to add more fields. The last softball/baseball fields added in the city were over twenty years ago, when the Faber Complex was built. How much has the population increased since then? Several years ago, plans were drawn up to reconstruct the fairground fields into a modern softball/baseball complex, which involved the county and city working out a deal, but at some point, the deal fell apart.
When I have time, I will contribute an article regarding the economic impact of youth baseball/softball tournaments, particularly as it relates to the hotel industry. Spoiler alert: The tournaments displaced by the new Hops project dwarf the Hops in the amount of rooms rented and meals purchased at area restaurants.
If I were a hotel/motel/ food service business, I would be very discouraged as to how the fees they convey to the city are being utilized. In my softball coaching days, those towns that made investments in multi field parks would see large crowds of family and friends fill local accommodations when they came to watch the kids play their games – usually for two or more nights. As an added bonus, local leagues and non-profits made money staffing the food both at these local stadiums. It was a win/win for the kids, the community, and the local businesses. School districts are not designed to accommodate these extra activities. I think the Hillsboro Council is not properly serving the community with it’s decision to cave into the Hops demands to spend funds on a new stadium. One does not have to look far to see that major and minor sports franchises have no loyalty to the community and fans that had faithfully supported them.
Thanks Tim- I believe you are correct! Stay active and vigilant- great to hear from you!