Portland may never be home to a Major League Baseball franchise. But fans of our national pastime do have a new reason to get excited about the sport’s expanding scene on a local level.
Today, the Hillsboro Hops announced they’ll be getting a new stadium with even more seating.
The team’s current home, Ron Tonkin Field, is only 10 years old, making it quite young when it comes to sports venues. But wear and tear didn’t prompt the new project; the team’s promotion to the High-A level did.
When the Hops signed a 10-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks two years ago, that not only got the previously short-season organization more field time (132 games a year instead of 76), but the deal also meant that they must meet updated MLB facility standards.
Planners originally expected to renovate Ron Tonkin Field, but after the completion of preliminary design and analysis, they discovered it would simply be more cost effective to build a new stadium. The city of Hillsboro is partnering with the Hops on the project.
The ballpark will be located on the northwest side of the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex (the same facility that houses Ron Tonkin Field). Once completed, the venue stands to become a westside entertainment hub. Planners say it could host more than 300 events a year, including baseball games, concerts and festivals.
“The requirement to meet new MLB facility standards has turned into an opportunity for us to reimagine what kind of venue our region needs and deserves,” Hops president and general manager, K.L. Wombacher, stated in a press release. “This new ballpark is going to be a generational project that serves as a community gathering place for decades to come. This is a game changer for our region and perfectly aligns with the city’s vision, as well as ours, to provide the best community to live, work and play.”
Construction is scheduled to begin toward the end of this summer and should be wrapped up before the 2025 Hops season. The field will be able to accommodate 6,000 for baseball games (an increase from Ron Tonkin’s 4,500 seats) and 7,000 for concerts and other events.
Funding for the estimated $120 million project will be paid for predominantly through private funding secured by the Hops. A smaller portion of money is coming from the city through its hotel tax. The Hops will have full operational control over the new ballpark under a licensing agreement with Hillsboro, making the team responsible for all of its expenses. The city will retain exclusive ownership and operation of Ron Tonkin Field.
Breaking in the new stadium may be a ways off; however, baseball season is just a few weeks away. The Hops are celebrating their 10th anniversary throughout 2023, with special campaigns and theme nights. You can catch their home opener against the Seattle Mariners’ High-A affiliate, the Everett AquaSox, on April 11 at Ron Tonkin Field. Keep our eye out for baseball’s best mascot: Barley, the bulbous green hop, who happily roams the stadium stopping for selfies and hugs.