On April 14th, 2023, Reporter Troy Shinn of the Business Tribune featured a story about the Hillsboro Parks and Recreation Commission being circumvented by the Hillsboro City Council, and not consulted about the decision to build the Hillsboro Hops a new stadium. This was an unprecedented move that the City Attorney and Council would back up, and it was unprecedented. The PRC has always been in the driver’s seat on significant expenditures or projects, and this one was a doozy- hundreds of Millions of dollars are at stake. More importantly, that decision was made unilaterally without the input or consultation of the PRC. Despite efforts to correct course, the City leaders pushed ahead with their decision. The decision has the dire consequences of destroying Fields 4,5, and 6 of the sports complex, effectively crippling the world-class baseball/softball and sports complex from being counted among the elite places in the Pacific NW for large sports tournaments and events.
As time has passed, the PRC has been asked to review some limited choices for replacing those fields. The one they were recently asked to approve includes adding two areas in the far reaches of the facility. While this bandaid approach seemed to calm some critics, it has not won over the members of the Commission. In the coming days, the City Council will receive the following official recommendations that have been officially made by the tenured and experienced group overseeing the massive Hillsboro parks and recreational facilities system.
Here is a revised version of that map, which we have marked for clarity.
After several meetings with the City and some very heavy lobbying that this new plan will work, the Parks and Recreation Commission has made the following written statement, which an Anonymous source has provided the Herald. We have confirmed that this is authentic.
Here is the statement.
Here are the most critical aspects of this recommendation.
Educated on budgets, processes, costs, and impact on our community and those that flood to Hillsboro for events, the Commission could not agree with City Hall in good conscience. At the same time that the Hillsboro Hops have been flooding the airwaves and press circles begging for $20, 000,000 million dollars in additional public funding (on top of the $18,000,000 our citizens are already giving the A League baseball team), our citizen lead PRC is making it clear that they want the Hops to pay their way. The team is one of the lowest-attended teams in Minor League Baseball. They currently sit in position 90 out of 120 teams (120 is the cellar). They rarely sell out and typically are less than 1/2 full at the beautiful Ron Tonkin Field. These PRC folks are Parks and Recs insiders and experts on this. These are not my words, nor those of the almost 500 people who signed petitions of opposition to the new ball field as it is planned. So this is input that Mayor Callaway and Councilor Beach Pace may wish to consider. Both have recently taken to social media asking anyone who likes the team to pressure politicians in Salem, Washington County, and anyone else they know to find the Hops $20 Million in additional gift money, lest they leave Hillsboro.
The Hops will need $40 Million if this recommendation holds up, maybe even $50,000,000. Currently, the team is not required to spend one dime to replace Fields 4,5 and 6. Many feel this is wrong and feel that if they destroy the fields for their benefit, they must replace them.
Key Takeaways –
The PRC is not accepting two fields to replace the lost fields- they want all three replaced.
All three fields need to be replaced at the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex.
They want the new Stadium to provide hours of use for the public. The Hops have asked for exclusive use of the new stadium, which will host the Hillsboro Hops and up to 36 Major Rock Concerts and events a year. It appears baseball is not profitable here in Hillsboro, so adding major music and other events is the road to riches.
The Hillsboro Hops must pay for 100% of the field replacement cost. That is an amazing stance, given the pressure the PRC is under from up the food chain, but it is correct!
The New fields must be completed at the same time the new stadium is- current statements from the City have indicated it may be 2-3 years, or longer. On top of that, the City has no money to replace them. The loss of use to our Parks and Recreation systems would be devastating – so this statement is perhaps the strongest of all.
This is a big deal, folks. So often, the City Council and every committee and commission, act like a hive mind with no dissent. This dissent is palpable; it is real, and it makes sense. This is healthy for Hillsboro. Debate, honesty, and transparency have been pretty scarce commodities around this town for some time now- and that applies to society at large. We support the PRC committee in this bold statement. We hope you will, too.
NEXT UP- The approval of the new Stadium was made on September 6th by the Hillsboro Planning and Zoning Hearings Board. Having said that it is not signed yet, and it is subject to an appeal by anyone who gave testimony. The new Baseball stadium, from a land use and legal position, is far from done. And the clock is ticking.
We now know that the new stadium is NOT cheaper than remodeling the Ron Tonkin, and we encourage the Hops and the City Council to regroup and abandon this failed effort before it is too late, There is still time. They do not need a huge new stadium, nor to be in the music business, We do not need to lose our world-class facility, which is really what is happening here.
What a world, oh what a world.