Minor league mecca: Hops, Timbers announce partnership
The Portland Timbers and Hillsboro Hops, both thriving professional franchises in the Portland metropolitan area, have announced a partnership that will bring professional soccer to Hillsboro starting next year.
Team officials said at a press conference Wednesday, Oct. 30, that the Timbers-affiliated T2 team will play all of its home games at Hillsboro Stadium beginning with the 2020 season.
As part of the partnership agreement, the Hops will be responsible for running the business operations for the USL Championship club, including marketing, ticketing and sponsorship sales, while the Timbers will continue to own T2 and manage soccer operations for the club.
"The Timbers are a world-class organization, and the opportunity to partner with them on running T2 is something we are very excited about," Hillsboro Hops President K.L. Wombacher said. "There is a tremendous base of soccer fans on the Westside, and playing home games at Hillsboro Stadium will allow us to tap into that excitement and help grow the T2 brand."
The teams' new arrangement appears to be a match made in heaven, with the Timbers finding a home in soccer-rich Washington County while providing the Hops an opportunity to broaden the scope of their business beyond simply baseball, into soccer and even beyond.
"It's going to be great for our community, our fans, and our front office to be able to become more than just a baseball team, and to become a little bit more of an entertainment business," Wombacher said. "It's a great opportunity for us to really expand our horizons and our expertise."
In order to meet the needs of the professional soccer minor league team, the city of Hillsboro will be replacing the turf at Hillsboro Stadium, installing FIFA-certified Field Turf CORE — the same playing surface used at Providence Park in Portland.
On hand at this morning's press conference, Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway communicated his support and enthusiasm for the partnership, citing the deal as another step in the development of Hillsboro — Portland's largest Westside suburb — as a "sports destination."
"We are absolutely thrilled as a city to have a first-class championship organization like the Hillsboro Hops partnering with another championship first-class organization in the Portland Timbers," Callaway said. "It's great to have another professional sports team."
The deal between the two organizations has technically been in the works for months, but Portland Timbers President of Business Mike Golub said he and Wombacher have been discussing the possibility informally for "a few years."
Golub said he and the Timbers organization have been watching the Hops' success from a distance, and that success — along with their level of professionalism — went a long ways towards expediting what today became official.
"(Their success) was a huge factor," Golub said. "When Michael McMurray, Laura (McMurray) and K.L. came to town in 2013, right away, we knew that these were just really excellent people. Their commitment to the community and the way they operate their business was very much in line with ours and what we're doing. We're both young organizations and both growing and trying to reach more people and trying to become more and more a part of this region, and so when we started to explore what we wanted to do, it really seemed like a natural fit.
"They do things right. They have a really excellent operation, and we feel we do as well, so we felt really confident in the type of people they are and how successful this can be."
The admiration goes both ways. Wombacher spoke glowingly of the Timbers as an organization, and more than anything, he just seemed excited about what the partnership could mean for everyone involved.
"If you look around the landscape of professional sports, of any sport, the timbers are right there at the top, and these two people (Golub and Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson) to my right are two of the best executives in sports," Wombacher said. "So to be able to work with them, to learn from them, to partner with them, it's really an exciting day for our organization.
"I can't say enough about how much we appreciate the Timbers and the confidence that they have in us to take this (T2) franchise on and run the business side of it."
Tickets for the 2020 T2 season will go on sale in January, but deposits are being taken now for the season seat priority list. Questions about tickets can be answered at hillsborohops.com or by calling 503-640-0887 to reserve your spot.
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