Oregon baseball stadiums could attract Yakima's Bears

Oregon baseball stadiums could attract Yakima's Bears »Play Video
Rendering of proposed baseball stadium in Hillsboro, Oregon. Courtesy: City of Hillsboro, Oregon.
YAKIMA, Wash. -- There are strong prospects the Yakima Bears could leave the state.

Two stadium projects in Oregon are moving at different paces.
Recent decisions by the city councils in Milwaukie and Hillsboro indicate both are taking the idea of professional baseball very seriously. Milwaukie, Oregon's City Council voted to spend another $300,000 to move forward with its pursuit of a stadium to attract a professional team.

The Yakima Bears have made no secret about the desire for a new facility or at least upgrades to Yakima County Stadium. County commissioners say the team's keeping its plans close to the vest and hasn't pushed hard for work here in recent talks.

"The chances of the Bears staying in Yakima County Stadium as of today are tenuous at best," said Yakima County Commissioner Mike Leita.

Hillsboro, Oregon's City Council slowed down a little.
Council members tabled the issue instead of committing to building a new stadium on land it already owns. Hillsboro plans to keep negotiating with the Northwest League hoping for assurances a team will come if a facility gets the green light.

"We want to make sure that the negotiations that we have with the league that the lease agreement is one that works for both of us," said HIllsboro, Oregon spokesperson Barbara Simon. "You don't want to build a stadium if you don't have a lease in place."

Hillsboro's working on a plan that could have a stadium ready for the 2013 season. That means construction needs to start by October. At the moment, it's not scheduled to come back on the agenda. However, the city says it could be as early as June. A deal in Hillsboro could be done with only the council's approval.

Voters in Milwaukie ultimately have the final say on their stadium.
In fact, the city's latest resolution calls for a commitment from a baseball team by July 31st, but not necessarily restricted to the Northwest League.

Despite the developments in Oregon, Commissioner Mike Leita doesn't see this as a competition.

"All the while that this has been going on with the Yakima Bears, we've not had many people approach Yakima County saying that no matter what you do, at all costs keep the Bears here."

The Yakima Bears current lease with Yakima County expires in 2015. Team management declined to comment on camera for this story.

General Manager K.L. Wombacher says it would be inappropriate until one of these stadiums actually presents itself.

Our calls to the Northwest League asking about its role in the negotiations with Hillsboro and Milwaukie were not returned.

The Yakima Bears have had the worst attendance in the Northwest League for the last eight seasons.