It has been a summer of baseball in Portland, Ore., once again. Void of a professional baseball team since 2010—and really a suitable venue to hold any sort of baseball team ever since PGE Park was transformed into the soccer-specific Jeld-Wen Field—the Portland area has spent that last nearly two months enjoying both baseball and a new baseball stadium.
The Hillsboro Hops, a new short-season Single A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks opened play in mid-June, but more impressive is what they opened play in: the brand-new Hillsboro Ballpark.
In a revitalization effort, the city of Hillsboro, just 20 miles east from Portland, opted to sell excess lands and float a bond to pay for construction of the $15.5 million minor league baseball stadium, giving what was the county’s largest metropolitan area with a professional baseball team some summer play yet again.
Designed by SRG Partnership and built by Hoffman Construction, Hillsboro Ballpark fits into the city’s already existing Gordon Faber Recreational Complex, including nestling close to a pre-existing football stadium. The forward thinking design allows the football and baseball venues to share concessions.
Owners of the new team and tenants of the stadium believe they have the best Single A stadium in the country. And they certainly have one of the most family-friendly parks around. The 3,534-seat venue has a capacity of 4,500, allowing plenty of room for family spectating from the outfield grass berms, perfect for small kids to enjoy.
With the berm located in the outfield beyond the short fence, there remains ample space for families to spread out blankets and let little kids run around while watching the game. A family picnic area runs all along the left-field foul line.
The seats themselves never grow more than 14 rows deep, allowing close interaction with the game.
And to live up to the team’s nickname, a beer garden along the right-field line offers the 21-and-over crowd a different style of hangout, on the opposite side of the family viewing section.
The open-concept concourses allow continuous view of the game from all points in the stadium.
The city of Hillsboro bet that having the only game in town would prove an economic hit for the community. A shiny new stadium at least gets the city to first base.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for TIME, Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.