First, let’s introduce the main team of this story. The Hillsboro Hops are a minor league baseball team, affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, in Hillsboro, Oregon. Just outside of Portland. Much like they are doing in most cities with a minor league team, Major League Baseball has told Hillsboro city leaders that their minor league teams will leave town if substantial upgrades or a new ballpark are not completed. I could post 1000 links of stories all over the country where a city is being told to upgrade or else by MLB. Here is one anyway.
Then last week, stories began coming out of MLB requiring Hillsboro to upgrade the ballpark or else. Local news sites like KGW and Oregon-Live wrote stories discussing how the funding plan for the new ballpark needed an additional $20 million dollars. Why not have the owners of the team pickup the tab? Didn’t the city build them the current ballpark not even a decade ago? Good questions.
Instead of getting answers, the General Manager of the team seemed to think that blaming MLB would somehow make the team look like the good guy in this situation.
“If the funding doesn’t come through, the MLB has the opportunity to force us into selling the team or relocating the team. We don’t want to relocate the team. Obviously, we’re invested in Hillsboro. We all live in Hillsboro, but if we sell the team, it would be up to a new owner. The new owner can’t play here…They have to move the team” – KGW.com, 09/09/2023, GM. KL Wombacher
Essentially, when the city told the team that the current ballpark was “just fine” the way it is presently, the team responded by stating that their decision “comes down to MLB requirements”. But why is the funding short by $20 million? Because the team “expected the Oregon Legislature to help” by giving them the last $20 million. They did not. The mayor of Hillsboro came out with quite the response after the state decided to pass on the team plan:“If we aspire to be a state worthy of Major League Baseball…and yet we don’t even give a penny to Minor League Baseball?”.
As for the douchebag state leaders? According to them, they were forced to deal with other bull crap things like “housing priorities” and “public safety” and “public defense” and other things. Don’t these people understand priorities?
Let’s go back to funding. The owners forgot to include a few things in their calculations:
- First, according to the owners of the team, they were contributing $82 million of private funding, the city was giving $18 million from a lodging tax and the state was expected to give $20 million. Except, the owners aren’t actually giving that much money because they are using a private bond that would pay them back through the ballpark revenues. Maybe the owners will repay the city back $18 million for the tax money? Of course not. As the Hillsboro Herald found out, there would be “no repayment”.
- Second, the owners never discuss or mention the fact that they are being given land with a value possibly as high as $22 million for “little or no financial commitment”. The city will also pay for the removal and demolishing of what is currently on this land and that can get quite expensive.
Considering this deal was done behind the public’s back and without any actual public input, I guess it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise why the general Hillsboro public seems pissed off about it. Then again, does anyone remember the last time the city was trying to negotiate with a minor league team? If you ever want to see the incompetence of a negotiator, take a look at this story that details how the final draft of an agreement came together between the city and team owners. When a story starts off the following line, you know things won’t get better in the future: “At first, the city wanted the team to pitch in money to build the stadium, according to Draft 1. The request did not include a specific amount and disappeared from all subsequent drafts”. — OregonLive.com