Hillsboro Hops hosting last home series of the season
HILLSBORO Ore. (KPTV) - The Hillsboro Hops are hosting the Spokane Indians this weekend for their last home series of the season.
The game could also potentially be the last time fans can see the Hops playing in Hillsboro. To comply with MLB standards, in March the Hops announced plans to build a new ballpark.
“We signed a deal with MLB in 2021 to be part of the new player development system, or PDL,” K.L. Wombacher said, the Hops President and General Manager. “Part of that new deal we had to meet new Major League requirements for facilities and unfortunately, the facility we have here doesn’t come close to it. So we are missing 233 points. The maximum is 10 so we have a ways to go. We’ve been working on renovation plans, those didn’t’ quite work out, so now we are working on a new ballpark that we have been working on for a while. We’ve got most of the funding there, but we were kind of left out of the state budget the last session so now we are trying to rally some support at the last minute.”
Wombacher said it was tough after hearing they weren’t going to secure money from the state before the end of the legislative session.
“We certainly understand there’s a ton of priorities in the state, a ton of challenges,” said Wombacher. “The revenue forecasts were positive and positive, so we felt like there was going to be enough money there, we had some great feedback from legislators, but unfortunately we just didn’t make the cut. Now it’s all hands on deck, trying to overturn any rock.”
State Senator Janeen Sollman, who represents District 15, which includes Hillsboro, says it was a combination of things that led to the Hops not receiving money from the state to go towards building the new ballpark.
“We came into this session with a priority on housing and public safety and making sure we passed robust bills to make sure we supported that,” Senator Sollman said. “We also had a considerable amount of ask through our lottery bonds and there was only limited dollars that would fulfill those asks. Then we also had a six week walkout and that really took some momentum out of the session and put a stall on the work. Towards the end of the session we had to take some of our bills and condense them, maybe three bills into one bill. That took time from our staff, from the legislative fiscal office because they had to do fiscal analysis on that. That’s what I think it boiled down to.”
Wombacher said they have been in talks with the state again, as well as the city and council and Oregon Business.
“Pretty much anyone who will take a meeting,” Wombacher said. “Fortunately, there’s been a lot of support. Everyone is saying they want to help. So that’s been positive. Even today people were reaching out asking how they could help.”
“I think the wheels are already in motion,” Sollman said. “I think not only do we have meetings set up again just to remind them of that ask and remind them of the need with our legislative fiscal office, our presiding officers, and with colleagues. We have legislative days coming up. As the news starts to spread the email box will start to get some pick up. I got a lot of texts from people asking how they can be a part of this. What they can do to help. I think it’s really going to be a grassroots opportunity to remind people it’s not just about baseball, it’s about other things.”
If the Hops can’t secure the funding, Wombacher said the MLB could force them to sell or move the team. Speaking with fans, they say they don’t want to see the team go.
“I would be very disappointed if they leave,” said Tom Byrd, who’s been a Hops fan for 10 years and season ticket holder for 4 years. “I’m going to retire this year and I am looking forward to coming to Hops games. My wife and I both enjoy it a lot. I think it’s a great way to spend some time.”
“The people are so friendly!” Linda Byrd said, “it’s a wonderful experience for the whole family. We support them. We love them.”
Wombacher said it’s about more than baseball, it’s about the community and how they want the team to remain a part of it.
“We know the team needs to stay,” Wombacher said. “We want the team to stay and we are doing everything we can to support that.”
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