Less than two weeks ago, the Hillsboro Hops leadership took to social media and the TV news to let us all know they need $20,000,000 to be given to them, or they may leave town. The threat was not subtle but direct from management. This, of course, is money they want on top of the 18,000,000 dollars that leaders in the City of Hillsboro have already promised them in writing. Add to that another $20,000,000 to 30,000,000 Million that taxpayers are expected to pay for fields their new stadium will destroy. Then we must consider the 9-plus acres we as a city are giving them for no monetary value and we have a $50,000,000 commitment not coming from the Team.
Let that sink in a minute.
This is a baseball team that, up until now, has only paid the City via lease agreement about $190,000 a year. That lease payment would not pay the interest on a 3 Million dollar loan. There are no final figures on this new stadium, but numbers in the $120,000,000 to $150,000,000 range are considered as accurate as possible. The Portland Timbers spent 50 Million dollars of their own money in 2017, with the City of Portland just chipping in $3 Million. The Timbers pay 2 Million dollars plus for their lease annually and have sold out tens of thousands of seats for years, sending waves of fans into the City for food and lodging every outing. https://soccerstadiumdigest.com/2017/12/portland-approves-providence-park-expansion-agreement/ Now that is a deal we could all benefit from. But we are not talking about the Timbers.
What Is Happening Inside City Hall?
The money in this Hops deal is foolish and makes no sense. This is not about baseball, but more about helping the ownership find a profitable path forward by adding rock concerts and events 30-plus times a year. Citizens should not be required to subsidize a financially weak enterprise with commitments of this magnitude when we can not even house people or manage our own crime and transportation issues.
All of that pandering for money and PR is a sideshow, however. The real story is what we are not being told. The Herald has followed this story for over a year and requested copies of documents and contracts. While they are not easy to obtain, we have been able to obtain of some of them. There is no agreement, at last check, between the City of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro Hops for leasing this new stadium to the organization. That is preposterous. How can we commit $50,000,000 when we have no financial agreement in place? There are so many questions and so much happening in private sessions- the citizenry’s trust in this deal is all but gone.
Below is a screenshot from the Second Amendment to the Design-Build Agreement signed on 3/10/2023.
This is an agreement between the Owner of the new Stadium, the City of Hillsboro, and the Design/Builder, the M.A. Mortenson Company. For those unaware, the City Council decided early in 2023 not to put this new Stadium out to bid or seek a low bid. They did not even desire a competitive bid, which is the norm. This happened about the same time they decided in an Executive Session not to consult the Hillsboro Parks and Recreation Commission about changing course from a remodel plan of the Ron Tonkin, but rather build the team a new stadium.
Now look closely at Section 1.1. The folks at Mortenson confidently stated they would develop a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) by August 15, 2023. We are almost 45 days later, and the City has confirmed that Mortenson has not provided the GMP and that there are no amendments to this contract. This means we are floating with no agreement as a community with the contractor or the Hops. And yet Hops head man KL Wombacher has been in Salem this week lobbying for $20 Million and telling the media and everyone that September 30th is a deadline to satisfy Major League Baseball. That is tomorrow.
Read the Entire Signed Agreement here: Hillsboro_Hops_Ballpark_65%_Design_Amendment_March_2023
Now look at that second arrow. That says that the City of Hillsboro (our people) will spend up to $15,943,218 dollars to get us to the 65% Guaranteed Maximum Price. Mortenson, who was handed this $120-$160 Million Dollar stadium with no bid and no competition, is being paid to tell all of us how much the new Stadium will be? What?? When was the last time you paid a contractor to tell you how much he/she/they would charge you? Absurd. But here we are.
Why don’t we have the GMP or an extended agreement with Mortenson?
“We have had a delay in the project and it has moved the delivery date out. No other agreements in place beyond what currently exists.” City of Hillsboro project staff- 9/25/23
Side Note 1: Why did the City Of Hillsboro Council agree to let M.A. Mortenson to have the Design-Build deal? Who else was looked at? Were they told that according to news reports out of Colorado, Mortenson and Trammel Crow (who the city also works with) settled a bid-rigging scandal over the Colorado Convention Center in 2021? The two firms, according to Construction Dive, agreed to pay $9 Million dollars in fines and penalties. https://www.constructiondive.com/news/mortensons-13m-bid-rigging-settlement-with-colorado-ag-includes-covid-19/576058/
I would like to know if the City Council was fully apprised of this situation before voting. I sure hope not.
If there is no agreement, we all need to ask the Council to pull back and put this project out to bid. I assume if they did we would all find out the remodel of th Ron Tonkin would be less than this disastrous new stadium path we are on. There is still time to course correct.
Side Note 2: It appears the Hillsboro Hops KL Wombacher and Trent Rehfeldt of Mortenson serve on the Board of Directors together of Sport Oregon – Hmmm – Have a look for yourself. https://www.sportoregon.org/board-of-directors
But there certainly can not be any conflict of interest connected here, just because the President and General Manager of a Minor League Baseball Team (KL Wombacher) and a key executive of the Contractor selected by the City Council of Hillsboro (Mortenson) might know each other and serve on the Board of a very powerful Sports non-profit? Right? No, I am sure it is fine. It’s not like any of the City Council have season tickets or anything- Gosh, what was I thinking?
Ok- lest I break into other new factoids and real NEWS, which no one else is covering or asking anyone, I will rest for the evening. In closing, we have no final land use approval; we have a now unenforceable/design-build agreement, and a team without the money to build the new stadium, which has no budget or approvals. We need someone to write a check for 20 to 50 Million. Senator Sollman is leading that one up it appears. I hope she succeeds.