Monday, September 19, 2005

Fairfield City Council to discuss proposed sports complex

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 17, 2005 - 11:17:48 pm PDT

Fairfield City Council to discuss proposed sports complex

By Matthew Bunk

- When the city unveiled a plan last year to build homes and offices on Allan Witt Park, city officials promised to replace all of the lost park acreage and recreational facilities by building a sports complex on the outskirts of town.

They said a new complex on Cordelia Road would have more recreational amenities than Allan Witt Park and its 43 acres of baseball diamonds and ball fields would satisfy the desires of local athletic clubs. They said it would be new and improved, and they said it would increase the amount of park space in the city.

They failed to mention at the time they might allow a private company to oversee the sports complex, might charge an admission fee and might actually raise city revenue by charging teams to play pick-up games and tournaments there. There were no such fees at Allan Witt Park, unless someone or some team wanted to rent the area and keep others off.

But the city doesn't want anyone to become upset over the idea of charging fees at the new complex, especially because no decisions have been made yet.

"There have been no decisions on what fees, if any, will be charged," city project manager David White said Friday.

Still, a report to the City Council suggested the city hire a consultant, at a cost of almost $50,000, to "perform a market, financial and economic impact analysis" of the proposed complex and to assist "in the selection of a facility operator." The consultant would be paid up to $140 an hour.

One option under consideration is whether to allow the city to run the facility or to hire a private operator. The city has discussed and the report mentions athletic complex developer Big League Dreams as a possible firm to operate the sports complex.

Big League Dreams builds and operates recreational facilities recognized as some of the best complexes in the nation. The profitable company has won several awards and was even named "Business of the Year" by a Southern California city.

The company's reputation for quality might not be in question, but the amount of money one has to pay to get into one of those facilities might be. For instance, a Big League Dreams complex in Redding charges a $2 admission fee for adults and $1 for children, and that doesn't include costs for using equipment such as batting cages.

These pay-to-play facilities would be considered parkland, according to the city, that would count toward its obligation to create more park acreage under the Revised Parks Capital Projects Plan adopted by the City Council in 2002.

In other business, the City Council will discuss:

n A development agreement with Garaventa Properties to build commercial and residential buildings on 79 acres north of Interstate 80 and east of Suisun Valley Road.

n Renewing its partnership with Solano Economic Development Corp. at a yearly cost of $45,000. Solano EDC works to attract business to Fairfield and other Solano County cities.

n An agreement to expand and modernize the Waterman Water Treatment Plant.

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

At a Glance

Who: Fairfield City Council

What: Meeting to discuss: a proposed sports complex on Cordelia Road, a commercial and residential development by Garaventa Properties, among other topics.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Council Chamber at City Hall, 1000 Webster St.


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