HILLSBORO, Ore. -- It's 53 days until Opening Day for the Hillsboro Hops of the Single A Northwest League. The tickets windows aren't even completed. Yet it's easy to stand there on this sun drenched day and imagine the line of people snatching up tickets through those little windows.
"Baseball is back after two years," declared K.L Wombacher, the Hops General Manager.
I hate to correct a front office baseball guy, but baseball is almost back.
Construction continues on the new home of the Hops. A large fence to protect those on 229th Ave who are not wearing baseball helmets will send the City of Hillsboro-funded project slightly over budget. But they are right on time in terms of finishing construction.
"We're looking at a June 10th completion date, and the players will arrive on the 11th." Wombacher said.
The season will begin on the 14th, and Hillsboro's home opener is set for the June 17th. When Wombacher's players do hit town, they're going to look at this stadium and think they've seen a fastball right down the middle.
"The playing surface (artificial) will be great, two batting cages, which in single A is a luxury. Huge dugouts, I mean they're the biggest in the league," Wombacher gushed. Then he made sure not to leave out the best part.
"Then there's the berm. It wraps the bullpen, so you can see the pitchers warming up."
The Hops are the former Yakima Bears, who left their substandard stadium in Washington for the promise of a state-of-the-art facility in Oregon. Hillsboro made good on that promise, and the parent club in Arizona couldn't be happier.
"The Diamondbacks are thrilled," Wombacher said. "When you step into a first class facility like this, you feel like a pro. And when you feel like a pro, you work like a pro, and when you work like a pro, you'll have better results on the field."
And when you have a first class facility, you get better results at the box office.
On this sun drenched day, it's easy to envision the lines forming behind the home plate plaza.