City, youth leagues prepare for new sports complex
by Bob Brownne/Tracy Press
Dec 23, 2011 | 3608 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The new year will begin with the city of Tracy and four youth sports groups taking a big step toward a longtime goal of bringing new soccer and baseball fields to town.

The complex will create a new level of partnership between the city and the youth sports groups that call Tracy home.

The two-part plan requires that the city finish the initial construction project at the 150-acre Holly Sugar Sports Complex, sometime in summer or fall of 2012. Then, the four youth sport groups – Tracy Futbol Club, Tracy Youth Soccer League, Tracy Little League and Tracy Babe Ruth – will begin their part of the project by leasing the partially developed land and then developing the fields for use by that particular sport.

The leagues will be expected to install their own turf, sprinklers, bleachers, backstops and other materials needed for that sport to be played.

The proposed site is located on property adjacent to the Tracy Wastewater Treatment Facility and the former Holly Sugar plant in north Tracy, bordered by Corral Hollow Road to the west and Tracy Boulevard to the east.

On Jan. 3 the Tracy City Council is expected to confirm that the proposal to create a new sports complex is for real when it votes on a construction contract for the first phase of the project.

On Thursday, Dec. 15, the city’s Development and Engineering Services department opened 12 construction bids for the first, 70-acre, phase. O.C. Jones & Sons Inc. of Berkeley was the low bidder, offering to grade the park, build parking lots, widen parts of Tracy Boulevard, and put in water and sewer lines, for about $6.5 million. Most of the bids were between $7 million and $8 million, with a high bid of $9.3 million.

Harry Bourassa, president of Tracy Futbol Club, said his youth soccer group has already started looking for funding as it gets the 6-year-old league’s members and supporters prepared for its part of the new venture.

“I think there’s going to be a collaboration of sweat equity from coaches and families, and some fund-raising, which we’ve already started, and some work will be hired out, depending on what it is,” Bourassa said. “We’re still looking through a lot of the requirements, because it has to be built to the city’s specifications.”

The soccer leagues typically rent from the city to use Plasencia Fields and Tracy Sports Complex fields.

Shirley Thompson, president of Tracy Youth Soccer League, said the new fields would be used in addition to the existing agreement with the city to use Plasencia Fields. She said the first task will be finding the money to finance the project. She and the league’s board of directors have already been on the phone scheduling visits with potential supporters.

“We’ve tried and there’s no money. We’re still trying, though,” she said. “I will not raise fees on the kids to be able to do it.”

Bourassa added that the four new fields at the proposed complex are needed to handle the league’s growth.

“It won’t meet all of our needs, but it will help,” he said, adding that the club will still rent the city’s existing sports fields.

The city established tentative agreements with the four leagues in March to lease the land for $150 per-acre. The baseball leagues plan to develop 20 acres each – with seven fields for Tracy Little League and five for Tracy Babe Ruth, and the potential for Babe Ruth to build two more. The soccer clubs plan to have 10 acres each, enough for four fields for each league, with TYSL to add another 10 acres in the near future.

It’s the first 70 acres of what will eventually be the full 150-acre complex.

Eight more leagues also met with the city in the planning process, including three youth football leagues, Tracy Express fastpitch softball and four more soccer leagues.

Tracy Parks and Community Services Director Rod Buchanan said that the planned groundbreaking for early 2012 is a milestone in an effort that began in 2001, when the city proposed a sports complex on Old Schulte Road in the southwest part of town.

That project was scuttled because of natural gas lines that cross the property. The city continued to examine the need for sports complex in 2006, and identified the current proposed location as the best choice.

Buchanan said that his challenge was to get all of the leagues in town to agree to the same goals. He said it was clear they all had different needs, but were able to figure out that the city could put in the basic outline for a sports complex and then let the various leagues install equipment that each needs.

“By doing it this way we’re able to leverage how many fields we can create,” Buchanan said, adding that instead of a half-dozen or so fields that the city would rent out, there will soon be 20 new fields created specifically for the leagues that use them.

“This particular arrangement, I’m not able to find a model like it anywhere in the U.S.” he said. “Really the credit goes to the leagues for being cooperative. That’s how we’ve gotten to where we are today.”

“I’m very confident that we’ve established a great collaborative relationship,” he said.

For the baseball leagues, the arrangement isn’t much different than what they have with local school districts. Tracy Little League leases its fields from Jefferson School District, and the league is responsible for upkeep of the fields, starting each season with a weekend of volunteer work to get the fields into shape for the summer.

“The partnership (with Jefferson) is great, but we definitely need our own home,” Tracy Little League president Paul Zwickey said.

The league will build five fields suitable for younger divisions, and two larger fields suitable for the Junior division.

“That space will be our space, but we will be partnering with the city,” he said, adding that his teams will continue to play at Jefferson and Monticello schools until the new fields at the Holly Sugar complex are available. “We know we’re not going to build all seven at the same time.”

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