MLS to PAC NW: Maybe I DO Love Hillsboro...

One day after reports suggested a "leg-up" to Seattle in the quest to bring a Major League Soccer (MLS) team to the Pacific Northwest - and with a soccer-ready field giving the boost - at least one party in the Portland area fired back: namely, The Oregonian. My hometown paper chucked in a report today mentioning Hillsboro, Oregon - which is my, ahem, more specific location - as a site toward which James Keston is eyeing closely. Let's just say that, with this shift, an accident of geography has inched my view of this horserace a bit closer.

So, what can I say about Hillsboro - or even Hillsboro stadium? A couple things.

To begin, I've often driven by Hillsboro Stadium - it's immediately off Highway 26, which takes most Portlanders to the (stunning, totally kick-ass) Pacific Coast - and thought precisely what Keston did: they could play soccer there? They've already got the cantilevered roof to keep in the noise so all they'd need is, say, triple the capacity and, ideally, lay down a grass field (please, please, let it be grass) and - voila - let there be soccer. And getting to Hillsboro from downtown Portland on public transportation ain't bad at all, and I should know: I do it go to work (ask me how I've nearly wrapped up all of Will Durant's History of Western Civilization, plus a score of books besides; I even know the good places to stop to take a piss when nature's calls get too forceful).

So, what's not to like? Mmm....a thing or two.

It's one thing to get to Hillsboro, but it's something else again to get to Hillsboro Stadium. First off, it's kinda in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere - e.g. not only does the train not go there, but there's not a lot for restaurants (OK, bars, places to get hammered, dens of sin - I'm a wicked, wicked man). On the upside, there's a Fred Meyer (grocery chain) within spitting distance, which would make tailgating about as uncomplicated and well-lubricated as anywhere I can think of. Now, it's possible there's a McMenamins not too far off as well (Cornelius Pass Road House, I think), but they're SO in love with hops that I'd take many, many cheap domestics over their entire collection of microbrews (seriously, their beer tastes like an amateur's 12th attempt at home-brew).

The geography of Hillsboro itself is part of the issue, which renders the fact I live there not all that significant. Here's the thing: I live in downtown Hillsboro, but, because the city's suburban-style growth (e.g. strip malls, single-family homes, gigantic apartment/condo cities) sprawls eastward toward Portland, downtown (which is damned charming, by the way, and has kick-ass and dirt-cheap Mexican restaurants to boot) sits on the Western edge of the city boundaries. With the train not running directly by the stadium, it would take me some doing to get to stadium.

In all honesty, though, it's not so bad as it sounds. The surface streets that take me to the stadium are like little highways in any case; they've also got bike lanes - big ones - which would allow for well-lubricated rides through the summer evenings, as opposed to being forced to drive.

In other words, on a personal level, an MLS team in Hillsboro stadium would work out just this side of ideal for me. For the league and a Portland franchise, it's a half-cheap way to build a stadium, though things like parking and the fields envisioned in the plan would take some doing to build; also, some upgrades to the highway infrastructure would likely be required. Still, that beats starting from scratch.

So I guess there's nothing more I want to say than pull the trigger, Mr. Keston.


pate said...

I can't speak to the beer at the Cornelius Pass Road House since I don't partake, but their fries are pretty awesome. And their Blue Cheese Burger (is it the Captain Jack?) is really good too. Not that any of that has much to do with a stadium in Hillsoboro.

Honestly, I think it could fly, but someone's gonna have to do something to get Portlanders to head west to see it.

The Manly Ferry said...

Yeah, I just went over to the Timbers Blog, where I caught a bit of that. In all honesty, it's just not that bad a commute - especially if you only have to do it once a week. And when you're doing, y'know, something fun. I prefer urban dwelling myself - circumstances drove my move to Hillsboro - but, having moved out here, it's just a matter of adapting. You find the places that don't suck (and there are a surprising number of them), figure out ways to get around, etc. After a while, you're essentially operating just as you had before.

I mean, I loved my little Overlook neighborhood apartment, being within fifteen minutes of downtown, and having restaurants and other conveniences all in walking distances (oddly, I've got all that now in Hillsboro). But, I swear, people who live in cities get this vision before them of, literally, endless strip malls, big-box stores ,and nothing more or less.

It's almost that bad, especially in parts...but, especially where I am, it's also a hell of a lot different. They just need native guides to help 'em along. And, if MLS moves into Hillsboro - and I'm still out there - I'd volunteer.

pupkick said...

I posted to the WSD message boards months back about Hillsboro stadium being a possibility. It would be nice if the train was reasonably close, but being in Sherwood, its a drive up anyway.

PGE Park's location is amazing, just a shame that the stadium itself is.. a little less than ideal. Not as much of a hole as Eugene's baseball stadium though. *shudder*.

D said...

Although... does anyone else get queasy thinking of "Hillsboro Stadium sounding like "Hillsborough" It just has... unfortunate resonances. Probably the one time renaming something for a corporate sponsor would be a very, very good thing.

The Manly Ferry said...

On the upside, D, that should only resonate with people like me and you; say the word "Hillsborough" to an overwhelming number of Americans, and they'll ask if you mean the one in Pennsylvania, Oregon, or North Carolina.

Still, for the die-hards...though that assumes they show up (more later).