In the ever-changing status of affiliated baseball in Portland, Hillsboro is set to vote on a new ballpark for the relocating Yakima Bears (short season A; Northwest League), with Milwaukie shooting for 2014.
A few weeks ago it was Hillsboro retrenching and Milwaukie moving forward in the race to bring pro baseball back to the greater Portland market, left open after the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) relocated to Tucson. With city officials largely in agreement on financing for a new $13.4-million, 4,300-capacity ballpark at the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex, the city council will vote whether to issue bonds to finance the facility at Tuesday's meeting. The Bears, who worked toward a new ballpark in Yakima as well as negotiating with Clark County for a new facility -- negotiations that failed to yield a ballpark plan -- would move for the 2014 season.
Meanwhile, Milwaukie officials say they're going to put off a decision on whether to build a new ballpark in that city and work toward a potential 2014 opening. It's a more ambitious plan -- a $25 million project designed to attract some private investment to the city -- and a feasibility study is underway.
One issue: whether the greater Portland area could support two NWL teams. There's a growing belief that it could: Hillsboro and Milwaukie are two distinct markets that probably won't overlap in terms of sponsors and fans. Hillsboro is a suburban area to the west; Milwaukie is a little more tied to Portland via mass transit to the southeast. There would be territorial issues to address, but folks like Jack Cain -- an institution in Minor League Baseball in the Pacific Northwest -- thinks it could work, and league president Bob Richmond didn't dismiss the possibility:
“That’s a concern,” he told the Portland Tribune. “We’ll do a great deal of study as to how many teams we can absorb there. But the whole Portland market is attractive for various reasons. There are a lot of people around there, and it fits our geography.”
Rendering of a proposed Hillsboro ballpark.
RELATED STORIES: Milwaukie advances, Hillsboro retreats in Portland-area ballpark race; Yakima County: We'll discuss ballpark upgrades; Plan B for Bears: Work on Yakima ballpark plan; Admissions tax voted down in Clark County; Milwaukie seeks public input on new ballpark; Milwaukie moves ahead with ballpark-feasibility study; Clark County postpones ballpark hearing; County scales back commitment to Portland-area ballpark; Competing ballpark plans in Portland; New Portland-area ballpark could provide economical bump: study; Clark County reverses course; will exclusively negotiate with Bears; Clark County passes on exclusive negotiations with Bears; opposition to new ballpark rises; Funding plan emerges for new Clark County ballpark;Yakima Bears to Portland area
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