The Hillsboro City Council, some of whom are season ticket holders of the Hillsboro Hops Baseball team, have really stepped into it this time. From the moment the story broke that the City Council had bypassed the Parks and Recreation Commission and unilaterally decided to spend 10s of Millions of Hillsboro taxpayer money on building the Hillsboro Hops a new stadium, the stench has been rising! No amount of positive spin in the world being proffered to our citizens can undo or hide what is happening. This new baseball stadium and concert venue being proposed at the Gordon Faber Sports Complex, a city park, is a lesson in how the few in power get what they want when left unchecked.
Let’s bring those not in the know up to speed. The Gordon Faber Sports/Recreation Complex is a City of Hillsboro Park. It was envisioned in the 1990s as a place for our youth and adult sports here in the City of Hillsboro to have a grand home to enjoy. A park for locals proudly built by the City. Over the years, the City government has bent the purpose and use and made it home to Portland State University Football and Softball. In 2013, the Hillsboro Hops, a minor league A-Team, entered the picture, and the City built a grand stadium with about 4,500 people. That project was around $15,000,000 and is now known as Ron Tonkin Field or “The Tonk.” As things sit now, there has been a balance between the original intentions of “local benefit” and the more commercial aspirations the City has. Here are things at GFRC as they are today.
But since last year, the need to keep Major League baseball happy with the Hillsboro Hops stadium and facility has taken center stage. A plan was proposed to enhance the Ron Tonkin by adding a visiting team clubhouse, corporate skyboxes, and additional seats. Plans were drawn, designs made, and the City Council and staff engaged the Parks Commission to advise and assist in the discussions. That is their job.
Believe it or not, the project costs soared to an unbelievable $160,000,000 to remodel and get the baseball stadium, rented by the City of Hillsboro to the Hops for a paltry $150,000 a year, up to snuff. Suddenly, in late February or March, the plan changed to build a new stadium and tear out Fields 4,5 and 6. The reason? It was more cost-effective. Turns out that appears to be a complete misstatement of facts.
This new stadium, one that will deny millions of Hillsboro residents (kids & adults) future use of these premier fields, was approved by the City Council and a contract signed in Private with the Hops- without consulting the Parks Commission nor advising Hillsboro taxpayers. Transparency- Equity – Fairness in dealing – Inclusion! All buzz words tossed around City government as guiding principles, but oh do some of our leaders hold them so cheaply.
Where are we at now and what happens next?
The new Hillsboro Hops Stadium shown her on the City of Hillsboro Webpage shows a concert being played in the middle of the baseball stadium. Lack of parking, Sound flowing across 26 to Rock Creek, Bethany, and beyond, and the loss of 3 major baseball and softball fields are all taking center stage.
GET TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING NEXT MONDAY-
Hillsboro Hops Ballpark Project Update – Neighborhood Meeting June 5
As the next step in land use planning for the Hillsboro Hops Ballpark project, we are hosting an informational meeting to share preliminary development plans. This neighborhood meeting is part of the land use application process and is designed to provide property owners within 500 feet of the project site a chance to identify any issues/concerns or share special information about the property involved before the development application is submitted. The meeting is open to the community and will include an opportunity to ask questions based on the information shared during the meeting. We will also let the general public know about this neighborhood meeting via our social media channels.
The land use application is just one of many milestones that need to be accomplished. We are also working on negotiating a long-term lease agreement with the Hops, further developing the project plans to get a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) for the project and the Hops continue to work on finalizing their financing plan (which is also dependent on the GMP).
The meeting is scheduled for:
Date: Monday, June 5, 2023
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Brookwood Library
The Event Room (second floor)
2850 NE Brookwood Pkwy, Hillsboro OR 97124
Anyone with a voice or interest should attend- and please invite your friends
LOCAL LEADER SPEAKS OUT
In addition to catching you all up, the former Director of the Hillsboro Parks Department, Wayne Gross, sent us this statement which he shared with other local media. Wayne is happily retired and has no reason to get involved, but he is incensed about what is happening here.
Here is what Wyane has to say:
“As the former Director of Hillsboro Parks and Recreation, I am appalled by the decision of the Hillsboro City Council to give away public recreation land to a private business – the Hillsboro Hops. This decision is just wrong for many reasons.
It was made with no public input and even the Parks Commission was not consulted. Not enough time to hear from the public? This discussion was clearly going on for months.
Giving away three softball fields effectively eliminates the Faber Complex as a site for softball tournaments that historically have generated lots of “heads in beds”. I would be shocked if the Hops could come close to duplicating that impact. How many people are going to travel over 50 miles to see Class A minor league baseball? Why wouldn’t the Hops release the results of their economic study? Their GM is quoted as saying “it’s been shared with people who need to know”. How arrogant is that! Apparently the public has no right to know.
How will these lost fields be replaced? The Hops have no responsibility to help and there is no easy or inexpensive location available. Brown School was studied before and rejected. Hillsboro taxpayers will eventually have to pick a multi-million dollar tab for this.
I urge residents to contact City Councilors to express their outrage over this give way that has many benefits for the Hops and nothing but the loss of an important public recreation facility for the City.
Wayne E. Gross
We spoke to Wayne. He is very upset, as am I. Those of us involved in the community, in government, and who are engaged know what this is.
“When the Hops were elevated to “High A” it was well known that major league baseball was going to want them to have a bigger stadium. But it is not and never was the people and City of Hillsboro’s responsibility to replace the land and stadium they are in. It is very short-sighted to assume that the Gordon Faber is the only location the Hops can go. Why are their (the Hops) needs more important than the people of Hillsboro? It is a fair question,” added Gross.
The Hillsboro Herald’s Plan For Baseball Success in Hillsboro
- Hillsboro is giving the Hops $18 Million Dollars of Transient Lodging Tax to make this supposed $120,000,000 happen. That is a done deal.
- Hillsboro is going to give/license about 9 acres of land to the Hillsboro Hops for free – maybe a small fee- and that will probably be a 100-year agreement.
- The Hillsboro Hops are not paying anything for the fact that their use will strip the community of our existing use. The Taxpayers will be stuck with a bill for at least $40,000,000 to build 3 new state-of-the-art baseball and softball fields, which will need dugouts, parking, bathrooms, stormwater, infrastructure, etc.- so this project is not really costing $120,000,000 – it costs the same as the $160,000,000 which the City Council said was too much.
- So, here is the plan we have to make this a win-win.
- The City of Hillsboro will give/lease/license the Hillsboro Hops 15 acres of land at the corner of Starr Blvd and Meek Road- this land the City owns as a part of the 150 Acres they bought last year. This is two times more space than the land Fields 4,5,6 sit on at the Gordon Faber.
- By giving/selling them this land, they have an asset worth $15,000,000 (1 Million an acre is the current value). They can borrow against that land. But Hillsboro only paid $250,000 per acre for this land.- The cost to the Taxpayers? About $3 Million. This saves the Hillsboro taxpayers about $30,000,000 in money we will save because we will not have to replace fields 4,5,6- better yet, we keep the kids and adults playing at the Gordon Faber where they should be.
- Hillsboro can still offer the Hops the $18 Million in Hotel/Motel Tax.
- Based on my sources, the Hops are trying to get $25,000,000 from the State of Oregon- they are guaranteed at least 10 Million.
- This is a financial package worth $58,000,000 Million to the Hops – it costs the City of Hillsboro just $3 Million.
- MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL MAY COME – if Major League Baseball comes, which the Portland Diamond Project is working non-stop on, maybe we need, as a City, to have a bigger vision. This new site and the 140 acres next to it can work as a Major League project, and the Hops facility can be used as a concert and baseball/softball venue.
- This location is much quieter and has better access to US 26 than Cornelius Pass ever will. Few neighborhoods will be impacted by the massive amounts of noise created by this new stadium- not true at Gordon Faber, where the new stadium will send noise all the way to Skyline Blvd., across Rock Creek and Bethany.
- There are many more benefits to be had – this is something that must be explored. The services are there- hell, the City moved heaven and Earth for the Data Centers to blow this area up, so why not baseball?
- The other option is to rebuild the lost fields 4, 5, and 6 here, which could make a terrific stand-alone tournament and event complex beyond normal fields.
Think about it, everyone- this is a win-win-win!
GET TO THE MEETING- MORE TO FOLLOW!