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Baseball on deck for Hillsboro

Hillsboro’s new minor league baseball stadium will be more than just a ballpark for the Single-A team that is moving to the city.

The stadium also will be a multipurpose venue that can play host to a variety of other sports activities and special events year-round, including football, soccer and lacrosse games.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD -  Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Facilities Manager Gary Wilson shows off the location of the new Hillsboro Stadium.

Its addition to the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex will greatly increase the use of the popular athletic and spectator facility, according to city and school officials.

“We are at capacity right now, especially for fields with artificial turf that can be used year-round. With its artificial turf, the new stadium will greatly increase our capacity to accommodate school, league and corporate play in rainy months,” says Gary Wilson, facilities manager for Hillsboro Parks & Recreation.

Casey Waletich, athletic director for the Hillsboro School District, agrees.

“We’ll be able to greatly increase our football, soccer and lacrosse use,” Waletich says.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - The future location of the Hillsboro baseball stadium.

Ground was scheduled to be broken for the new stadium at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21. It is estimated to cost up to $15.2 million and will be financed by bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the city.

Expected to attend are Hillsboro and Washington County officials, representatives of the Yakima Bears baseball team that is moving to Hillsboro, and representatives of their parent Major League Baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Much of the news coverage of the stadium has focused on the baseball games that will be played there. The first game in the new stadium is expected to be held in June 2013. The season will include 38 home games.

The team’s new name should be announced soon.

by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Ivan Pineda scrapes up the infield material from the softball field that is being replaced with the new baseball stadium. The infield material will be used at another Hillsboro park to save money.

Portlands loss

The focus on the baseball makes sense. Hillsboro’s successful drive to land the team followed the controversial and highly publicized loss of the Triple-A Portland Beavers. The team lost its home when the City Council agreed to renovate the former PGE Park for the major league Portland Timbers soccer team.

Under public pressure, the council backed away from its original plan to replace the aging Veterans Memorial Coliseum with a new stadium, and then could not agree on an alternative location.

Hillsboro, Milwaukie and Vancouver all began pursuing minor league teams after that. Hillsboro was the first to sign one after committing to build the stadium over the summer. Milwaukie and Vancouver threw in the towel after that.

Mayor Jerry Willey says the addition of minor league baseball is part of Hillsboro’s evolution from a suburb to a full-fledged city.

But the stadium also is designed to meet the community’s growing needs at the recreational complex, at 4450 N.W. 229th Ave. In addition to the artificial turf, it also will have a large amount of permanent, elevated seating. This will allow for many more large-scale spectator events to be held in the complex.

Honoring Farber

Gordon Faber would be pleased. Faber, a small-business owner and real estate agent, served on the Hillsboro City Council from 1981 to 1985 and again from 1987 to 1993. He served as mayor until 2001.

All of those years were characterized by great growth in Hillsboro, and Faber supported such important projects as the development of Ronler Acres on the Intel Campus, TriMet’s westside MAX line and the drafting of the Hillsboro 2020 Vision Plan.

Asked if Hillsboro could handle the growth in 1992, Faber told The Oregonian newspaper, “I view the city as a living, breathing thing. And if it doesn’t grow, it dies. I think growth was necessary to keep the town alive and healthy.”

The recreation complex named after Faber opened in 1999. Built at a cost of $10 million, it includes the Hillsboro Stadium, a multiuse field designed for football, and up to two soccer or two baseball games at a time. It has artificial FieldTurf that allows for year-round use, and can seat up to 7,000 spectators, most in large grandstands that are easily visible from the Sunset Highway.

Since it was built, Hillsboro Stadium has hosted high school football games, including home games for Century High School and Oregon School Activities Association playoff games. It also has played host to high school, park league and professional baseball, soccer and lacrosse games.

A number of special events are held there, including charitable runs.

The complex also includes seven real grass softball fields without permanent stands. Their use is limited during wet months.

Field 4, just west of Hillsboro Stadium, will be replaced by the new baseball stadium. It was the logical choice because batters have had to look into the setting sun, limiting its use. The playing field will rotated in the new stadium to eliminate that problem.

The new stadium also will include artificial turf which means it can be used in both dry and wet weather. It also is designed to be reconfigured for football, soccer and lacrosse. The 4,500 permanent seats will allow spectators to enjoy a variety of activities there.

“One of the great benefits will be to ease the pressure on school facilities, especially the limited ones with turf in the spring,” Waletich says.

The council is hopeful that the revenue from baseball and other uses of the stadium will cover annual maintenance costs of the baseball stadium and much of the debt service.

Revenue sources include team rent at $150,000 per year with a 3 percent annual increase, ticket surcharge fees, naming rights, and parking and rent from other groups that use the new stadium.

If expected revenue does not cover the costs, other potential sources for debt repayment could include the general fund, parks’ system development charges, and revenue generated from the state Strategic Investment Program.



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