Hillsboro Is Optimistically Vying to Host the Major League Baseball All-Star Game

It’s a long shot. And they know it.

Last week, Major League Baseball announced it would no longer host its All-Star Game and player draft in Atlanta, after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed voter legislation that could hinder access to voting and disenfranchise Black voters.

That means the All-Star Game needs a new host for July 13. Among the cities volunteering to host it: Hillsboro, Ore.

City officials in Hillsboro are making a wildly optimistic—but not entirely facetious—pitch to host the MLB All-Star Game in Ron Tonkin Stadium, a minor league ballpark that seats 4,500 and is home to the Hillsboro Hops.

Hillsboro, Portland's suburban neighbor to the west, is a Washington County town known for, well, not very much at all. But Hillsboro's lack of pomp isn't stopping local leaders, including its mayor, from dangling a carrot to the majors.

"There's always a chance. So it may be a long shot, but we're here. We're ready to go," Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway tells WW.

The decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta has sparked national furor, with Republicans complaining that the league bowed to "cancel culture." In a statement April 2, Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr. wrote that the league's decision was made after consulting with its athletes and players' groups.

"Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," the statement read. "We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game's unwavering support."

Meanwhile, other cities are eager to capitalize. Milwaukee and Chicago have been floated as possible venues.

And then, of course, there's Hillsboro.

The Hillsboro Hops, one of the Arizona Diamondbacks' farm teams, tweeted the city's somewhat paltry qualifications for hosting the game on April 2. Team president K.L. Wombacher tells WW the tweet was the team just trying "to have a little fun."

Oregon politicians hopped on anyway. Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan retweeted that tweet and commented, "Co-sign."

Hillsboro's selling points? Nike is close by, the food scene is taking off, and Oregon has an excellent voting rights record.

Nick Christensen, a public affairs specialist at Metro speaking merely as a baseball stan to WW, asks, "Why not Hillsboro?"

"This part of Oregon has the best weather in America on July 13, we have America's best voting rights, we're the headquarters of Nike, which is the official uniform supplier of baseball, and this is someday going to be a great MLB city," Christensen says.

A dedicated group of baseball aficionados dubbing themselves the Portland Diamond Project has long wanted to bring an MLB team to Portland, claiming the city is the ideal environment for baseball to thrive.

The efforts to bring the All-Star Game to Hillsboro, though likely a fruitless effort, could revive the conversation of bringing America's favorite pastime back to Portland—at least for a day or two.

Callaway, the Hillsboro mayor, says he'd even arrange a fighter jet fly-by if the game came to Hillsboro, and boasts of the city's many available hotel rooms and the perfect airport for private jets to land on.

"I love baseball. But, athletically, I probably peaked at the time I learned to walk," says Callaway.

And if the MLB called tomorrow, asking to hold the game in his city? "I would be equal parts thrilled and shocked and then we would get going right away."

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