first_imgHillsboro, Oregon’s fifth-biggest city, is staking its credit rating on a plan to build a $15.2 million stadium for a minor-league baseball team. Similar efforts in Washington state and New Jersey ended in downgrades.The Portland suburb with about 93,500 residents broke ground on the venue last week. It will house an affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks that for 23 years played 200 miles away in Yakima. Owners of the Yakima Bears, last year tried unsuccessfully to negotiate moving the team to Vancouver.Hillsboro plans to finance the stadium by selling municipal bonds by year-end, even as the extra yield investors demand on some of its debt has climbed by 60 percent since July. In the past 18 months, Wenatchee and Harrison, N.J., lost their investment grades because sports-arena projects financed with munis missed revenue projections and failed to spur the development officials were counting on. Hillsboro is taking a similar risk, said Howard Cure, director of muni research at Evercore Wealth Management, which oversees $3.7 billion.“It’s yet to be proven how much a sports team contributes to economic stimulus,” said Cure, who’s based in New York. Hillsboro’s economy has benefited from its location in Oregon’s so-called Silicon Forest of technology companies. Intel and Lattice Semiconductor are among those operating in the region.The Hillsboro stadium is part of “a vision for the city to bring community-based programming and places where the community can get together,” said Suzanne Linneen, the city’s finance director. “There’s a belief that it will bring some economic vitality to the region.”last_img

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