Hops bid to ‘hop’ on to MLB ‘High A’ criteria



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Hillsboro Hops new ballpark vision Image: Hillsboro Hops, SRG, Populous, & Mortenson

The City of Hillsboro in Oregon, US, is partnering with the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team Hillsboro Hops to support the team in its continuing efforts to meet new Major League Baseball (MLB) ‘High A’ full season baseball requirements.

‘Hillsboro OREGON’ stated that the City values the Hops as a community partner and recognizes the unique value the organization brings to the community. This project is being designed to bring additional economic and entertainment benefits – beyond baseball -to Hillsboro and the region.

The Hillsboro Hops are a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team in the Northwest United States, located in Hillsboro, Oregon, a City in the Portland metropolitan area. The Hops are members of the Northwest League as an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They play their home games at the Ron Tonkin Field, which opened in 2013.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are an American professional baseball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League West division. The franchise was established on March 9th, 1995 and began play in 1998 as an expansion team. Their home ground is the 48,519-capacity Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona (US).

The 4,500-capacity Ron Tonkin Field, originally Hillsboro Ballpark, is a baseball park in the Northwest United States, located in Hillsboro, Oregon, a suburb West of Portland. It serves as the digs of the Hillsboro Hops.

New York (US)-based the Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization and the oldest major professional sports league in the world. The MLB is composed of 30 teams, divided equally between the National League and the American League, with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

Florida (US)-based the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) is professional baseball below Major League Baseball, including teams affiliated with the MLB clubs and independent baseball leagues consisting of unaffiliated teams.

‘Hillsboro OREGON’ further stated that design-builder Mortenson, along with SRG Partnership (architect in Seattle, Washington) and the renowned design studio Populous, have been contracted by the City to work on a new ballpark.
 

March 2023 Update

  • Upon the completion of the preliminary design and analysis, which looked at renovating the Ron Tonkin Field, it became clear that the costs to meet the new MLB standards would be extremely high due to several limitations;
  • Relocating major utilities – and fitting the new requirements into a limited ballpark footprint – contributed significantly to the increased costs;
  • An alternatives analysis concluded that building a new ballpark on the same campus would provide a more cost-effective project;
  • On March 7th, 2023, the Hillsboro City Council reviewed a new project scope with updated design plans at a work session during a regularly held public meeting; and
  • At the March 7th, 2023 meeting the Hillsboro City Council approved an interim cost allocation agreement between the City of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro Hops that will move the project forward up to 65 percent design.

 

2022 Progress

  • The project team completed the pre-design and program verification phase of the project. The team is ready to move into concept design and design development;
  • On August 16th, 2022, the Hillsboro City Council approved an interim cost allocation agreement between the City of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro Hops that will allow the project to move forward; and
  • The City Council also approved a design amendment that enables the project team to complete 10 percent – and up to 35 percent design – of the ultimate buildout of the facility; and
  • To reduce risk and allow for flexibility and scalability, a 10 percent design checkpoint was put in place to adapt to any changes in scope and funding for the project, thus, limiting the amount of redesign work, schedule impacts and construction premiums.

 

Project Priorities

  • Meet or exceed MLB requirements within the timeframe required to meet the new standards;
  • Ensure the project will not have a negative impact on the community’s ability to access recreational amenities, and that access to the ballpark remains affordable;
  • Make certain the project is financially sustainable for the City of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro Hops;
  • Create a more robust regional entertainment destination that will provide additional benefits to the Hillsboro community, as well as the Hops; and
  • Explore opportunities to expand recreation across the community.

 

MLB Required Standards

Due to Major League Baseball’s elimination of short season Class-A ball in the 2021 season, the Hillsboro Hops were elevated to ‘High A’ full-season. The new season is from April to September, with a total of 132 games, including 66 home games.

The MLB instituted new facility standards for each level of play to address player health and wellness:

  • These standards include sections that address security, home and visiting club facilities, field playability, and maintenance; and
  • The Hops must meet these standards and could be fined or removed from the league if they do not.

 

Financing Explained

A majority of the project will be paid for by private financing secured by the Hillsboro Hops. The project costs are estimated to be up to $120 million. Under the financial proposal:

  • The Hops will be responsible for approximately $75 million of the total project costs;
  • The Hops will request $25 million from the State of Oregon to support the project;
  • The City of Hillsboro will contribute $18 million in revenues from the Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) – collected through overnight hotel stays in Hillsboro – toward the project. The TLT revenues are required to be reinvested in tourism-related projects, such as the ballpark project;
  • The City is not considering any tax or fee increases to support the construction of the Hillsboro Hops Ballpark to meet the new MLB facility standards; and
  • No funding for Police, Fire and Rescue, or other City services will be diverted away from those uses toward this project.

 

Transient Lodging Tax Facts

  • The Transient Lodging Tax in Hillsboro is 13.5 percent, paid by a person who furnished temporary or short-term lodging;
  • Three percent goes to the City of Hillsboro;
  • Nine percent goes to the Washington County, of which the City receives a share;
  • 1.5 percent goes to the State of Oregon;
  • The City’s three percent TLT collection rate requires an extension at Year 10 (2026-2027). This is voted on by the City Council; and
  • The State of Oregon requires that 70 percent of TLT revenues must anchor to tourism promotion or related facilities, such as the ballpark project.

 
The Transient Lodging Tax is a hotel tax or lodging tax charged in most of the United States, to travelers when they rent accommodations in a hotel, inn, tourist home or house, motel, or other lodging, generally unless the stay is for a period of 30 days or more.
 

Timeline

  • 2021 – Concept development;
  • 2022-2023 – Design;
  • 2023-2024 – Construction; and
  • 2025 – Completion.

 
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