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Official Review by Paul Hilchen, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
2015 is the third season for the Hillsboro Hops, the NWL Short Season Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Portland area has a rich baseball history that was put on hiatus back at the end of the 2011 season when the Portland Beavers, the then Triple A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, moved to El Paso.
In order to fill the void left when the Beavers relocated to El Paso, several cities in the area tried to raise funds to build a stadium to entice another team to the area. Hillsboro won out and built a $15 million stadium to lure the then Yakima Bears to the area. The stadium sits next to Hillsboro Stadium, a multi-purpose facility, used primarily for football. Both stadiums reside in the Gordon Fabre Recreational Complex, an area that also includes softball fields for local leagues.
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There are lots of choices here for hungry fans. A wide selection of burgers are available in the $8 - $9.50 range, featuring a black bean, and a turkey. Hot dogs run in the $4.50 - $7.50 range featuring the Big Boy - a dog with mac & cheese. It's quite a sight. If burgers and dogs aren't in your sights, a chicken & waffles sandwich ($9) might peak your interest. If you've still not seen anything yet that tickles your fancy, how about a chicken caesar wrap ($9), or a selection from the Japanese Beef Bowl, a local business that has a cart in the right field corner.
When you have a team named the Hops, beer is an obvious menu item, which can be had for $6 - $8. Bridgeport Brewing is the featured brand at the ball park. There is a beer garden down the right field line that gives fans a covered view of the game.
Attending a game at Ron Tonkin Field is a great family experience. Even with the Portland area's rich baseball history, short season Single A baseball attracts true baseball fans. When you walk in the gates, you get the sense that you're going to have a good time, and the game is a bonus. The staff is very helpful in every way. If you need help finding your seat, locating a bathroom, or just need general information, Hops employees are easy to find and ready to help. The field is so open and inviting that you would have to try very hard not to have a good time.
Ron Tonkin Field is in the commercial / industrial section of Hillsboro, where it resides near one of the four Intel campuses in the area. There is a small commercial area close with fast food restaurants and a grocery store. The Cornelius Pass Roadhouse is the star restaurant in the area. Central Hillsboro is roughly 5 - 10 minutes away, where you can find just about whatever you are looking for. If you need the big city feel, downtown Portland is roughly 15 - 20 minutes down HWY 26. Lodging choices in Hillsboro are somewhat limited, but there are other lodging options just down the road in Beaverton.
Hwy 26 is known locally as the Sunset Corridor, which will take you on a scenic 45 - 60 minute drive to the Oregon coast. There are many places on Hwy 26 to pull over and take in the amazing Oregon landscape.
Fans of lower class baseball are die-hard fans and the Hops fans are no different. The crowd is fully engaged in the game and react accordingly to the on and off field happenings. While Hops fans are passionate, they are also respectful. Thankfully, you don't get much of the drunk, rowdy, vulgar fans that are commonly in attendance (I didn't experience any such fans). Families with small children shouldn't have to worry about what their kids might have to see and hear because problems are dealt with very quickly. The Hops are committed to giving fans their best possible experience at Ron Tonkin Field.
Directly off Hwy 26, Ron Tonkin Stadium is very easy to get to. Once there, there is a large parking lot with plenty of room for all. $5 parking is a nice perk. If you want to take public transportation, you can take the Tri-Met Max blue line to Hillsboro, but you will also need to get a shuttle bus to the stadium, which the team provides.
Once inside, there is plenty of room to walk around and maneuver. The bathrooms at the stadium are large enough to handle a fair amount of fans at one time. The seats have a generous amount of leg room and seem amazingly close to the field. There is plenty of room for handicapped fans as just above the last row of seats, there is a row all the way around the stadium reserved for the mobility challenged.
Single game tickets range from $7 for general admission to $16 for the lower box seats. There is also premium seating and club seating but those seats aren't generally available during the season. The stadium provides all the necessities to ensure a positive experience for fans. There is an increasing amount of sporting options in the area and an afternoon/evening of baseball at Ron Tonkin Field is well worth the price of admission.
The Hops store has just about anything a Hops fan could want as a memento of their trip to Ron Tonkin Field. Hops jerseys $75, t-shirts $20 - $36, hats $24 - $28, hoodies $50, and license plate frames $6. If you're a baseball history buff, you can get a piece of the past with a cap or a shirt from the Portland Mavericks, the short lived team that boasted actor Kurt Russell.
There is a bounce castle and slides beyond the center field fence for the kids. In left and right field, there is a family section where you can bring a blanket and sit out and watch the game with plenty of room.
One feature of the stadium that intrigues this reviewer is the infield base paths are turf. The only part of the field that is dirt is the pitcher's mound and home plate. It's an unusual thing on a baseball field and it looks weird seeing someone slide into a base and coming up just short.
In between innings, they had a military salute for active and retired service members by having them stand when the music for each branch was played.
Out in front of the ballpark, there is a piece of artwork called "The Barometer." Basically it's a decibel meter that lights up based on the noise in the area. The colored LED lights in the piece are a definite hit with the kids who try to get all the lights to go on.
Member Review by BryndonCoughlin on Aug 11, 2013
The words “Major League Baseball” in Portland can be a sour subject. Baseball has finally come back to Portland; Hillsboro, Oregon to be exact. The Hillsboro Hops (previously known as the Yakima Bears) have been around since 1977 but have changed affiliations a few times. They are a Class A Short Season team in the Northwest League and farms players out to MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks. The Hops currently play in Hillsboro Ballpark, about 25 minutes from Downtown Portland. The Ballpark sits right next to Hillsboro Stadium, a football/lacrosse stadium used for high school state tournaments. Hillsboro Ballpark is a wonderful brand new facility fit for any professional baseball play.
Member Review by shamus170 on Sep 04, 2014
The Hillsboro Hops are the newest franchise in the Northwest League, as the team moved from Yakima in 2013. Perhaps most notably, the arrival of the Hops ended a two-year absence of baseball in the Portland Metro area after the Beavers were booted, sold and moved from PGE Park as the city focused on transforming the stadium to a soccer-only facility. After several suburban municipalities tried to build a new stadium in an attempt to attract a team, it was Hillsboro that ended up developing a $15 million ballpark to lure a franchise. While the Hops have proven quite popular within the Portland Metro, it should be noted that as Oregon’s fifth-largest city, Hillsboro’s population of 91,000 can support a team on its own, especially when factoring in the nearby suburbs of Beaverton and Tigard. With unique branding and an inviting, spacious ballpark, the Hops have been a hit in Ron Tonkin Field.
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