Hillsboro one step closer to hosting minor league baseball

Hillsboro one step closer to hosting minor league baseball »Play Video
An artist's rendering of what the stadium would look like.

HILLSBORO, Ore. – The first pitch could be thrown for a Single A minor league baseball team in Hillsboro as soon as next summer after the City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a basic business deal with the Yakima Bears.

One of the requirements of that deal is the team must reimburse the city $150,000 if the deal falls through. The city will also get a ticket surcharge of $1 for each ticket sold, all parking revenues will go to the city, and the city’s name will be included in the team’s name.

Additionally, the city will own and operate the stadium, will be paid $150,000 a year by the team, along with a 3 percent yearly increase, and Hillsboro residents get first crack at team jobs.

The City Council also approved a contract with Hoffman Construction to design and build the $13.4 million stadium. The plan is to convert one of the existing softball fields next to the city’s football stadium off of Highway 26 to a baseball stadium that can seat 4,500 fans.

City officials are promising no new tax dollars are needed because they say the city has a significant advantage over the other local cities, like Beaverton and Vancouver, which were considering minor league baseball.

City Council President Aron Carleson says the big stumbling block to getting the team has been financing.

"We've been trying to work through every possibility that we can (and) make sure all of the possibilities are out on the table," she said.

While similar plans haven't penciled out in other cities, city officials say Hillsboro's stadium would only cost half as much because the city already owns the land. It also has infrastructure in place like concession stands, locker rooms and parking.

City officials say they believe they can pay for construction bonds mostly through rent paid by the Bears, parking fees and revenue from other events. While the plan calls for no new taxes, some debt may have to be covered by the city's general fund.

Carleson was confident that nothing can derail the project.

"Not today. We're ready to go. The team's ready to go. The city's ready to go," she said.

The Bears still have to say yes. So does Minor League and Major League Baseball. There is a June 29 deadline for everyone to agree.

The hope is the team will start playing in Hillsboro June 2013.