Thursday, July 21, 2016

Remember back when baseball was supposed to come to Vancouver? Hillsboro - Ron Tonkin Field remembers.

Was it that long ago that then Commissioner Steve Stuart was trying to screw this entire county to get his ballpark rammed down our throats, driven by the "brilliant" idea that we all, every single one of us, should pay for his own, personal, baseball palace.

Stuart, who was drafted by the Twins in the 46th round in 1989,  didn't make it very far in the system... (made it a lot farther than I ever did, however) but along with Mike Bomar, who took over CRUDEC and then arm twisted the cash from the taxpayers through the county commission needed to waste on a bogus vacation to the Paris Air Show; teamed up to try and stuff this boondoggle down our throats.

Bomar pitched for the Huskies, showed flashes of solid play, battled shoulder injuries.  He was drafted in the 34th Round by the Reds and made it to Eugene in the Northwest League... things did not go great and it appears that was the end of it.

Both of them had a baseball Jones.  And both did not give a damn what the people wanted... which is a political disease that is running rampant around here.

I admit that I played a role in the demise of the Yakima Millionaire's scam.  But my efforts were not based on a dislike for baseball or even a dislike for those who tried to manipulate the system into screwing the taxpayers out of millions, again, without asking us... so they wouldn't have to go through the hassle of going somewhere else to watch them play.

Hillsboro is a small town of 8,350.  Somehow, THEY found a way to make this happen at the city level without tax increases or charging taxes at movie theaters, golf courses or county fairs.... which, among other things, was the plan over here.

In short, everything about the Stuart Plan was dead wrong... from the location (There's no way it should have ever been in Vancouver when all that space was/is available at the fairgrounds) to the financing to the way they wanted ALL of us to pay for their ballpark, even though hundreds of thousands of us would never set foot in it.

Boldt's vote, months late, finally killed this thing after he was maneuvered into it.  Months of staff time and money wasted, but better late than never.

Meanwhile, others had already expressed an interest.  Hillsboro had a well developed location for a ballpark attached to their football stadium in the middle of several softball fields.

They built a facility capable of holding close to 2000 more fans for several million less than what these guys wanted to hose us for.

Last season, we started attending games over there on a catch-as-catch-can basis... and we were hooked.  Watching these kids play their guts out on the field when most of them know that perhaps one of two of them were ever going to be called up for the Show is inspiring; the facility is very good, the tickets are cheap... and even though we are 70 miles away (round trip) we've shown our support of this effort by buying season tickets.  Last year, we even spent the weekend in the TriCities as the Hops won their second consecutive championship... this year, we traveled down to Eugene to catch the season opener.

If you haven't caught a Hops game, give it a shot.  You might be surprised at what you find.

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