Two years after the city of Tracy broke ground on its newest sports park, Legacy Fields is still several months away from hosting a youth baseball or soccer game.
The city opened the 72-acre first phase of the 116-acre park to four local sports leagues with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in April 2013. Even as leagues seek sponsors for their share of the project, no progress is visible at the fields.
Tracy Councilman Robert Rickman said that the project, heralded as a way to make Tracy a destination for regional sports tournaments, has yet to be developed.
“My concern is we spent several million on infrastructure and you go out there today and all you see is a fence surrounding weeds and dirt,” Rickman said.
The Tracy City Council approved the $11.8 million project along Tracy Boulevard just north of city limits in January 2011. The city paid for roads, parking lots and the backbone for water and sewer lines and storm drains. The plan was for the leagues — Tracy Babe Ruth, Tracy Little League, Tracy Futbol Club and Tracy Youth Soccer League — to lease the land and pay to build the playing fields.
Rickman said the city could look for money outside its general fund to help pay for fields. At the least, he said, the City Council needs an update from the public works department on the status of the park. That update is scheduled for the council’s regular meeting Aug. 19.
“What we’ve instructed staff to do was to talk to the league and see if there’s any impediment to building their fields and check on their funding,” Rickman said.
The city public works director, David Ferguson, said he planned to meet with leagues and prepare a report that covers the status of the fields and the challenges the youth leagues face in getting those fields ready for play.
So far, only Tracy Little League, which played its final games at Jefferson School two weeks ago, is ready to begin its part of the project.
The Tracy Little League president, Dave Peltz, said no start date was set for construction of his league’s seven fields, but he expected that the city would approve plans for irrigation and grading by August.
“It breaks down to what we need to do step by step and the man hours needed to do it,” Peltz said. “Right now, we’re just working on grants and outside funding.”
The cost of about $70,000 per field is still a factor, but the league is confident it can put in turf, dugouts and backstops this summer, plant turf seed in the fall and have fields ready for the league’s next opening day in March.
“We don’t even need fencing. We can use portable fencing for the outfield,” Peltz said.
He added that Tracy City Councilman Charles Manne went to the league’s May board meeting to let the league know that the city wanted to help.
Manne, responding to an email message Wednesday, wrote that coordination between the leagues could turn out to be more effective than an influx of cash from the city.
“For example, it might be cheaper to grade all the fields with one contractor as opposed to each league hiring individual contractors to grade at different times,” he wrote.
“The goal is to come alongside the leagues and assist them in building their fields efficiently and quickly, and not get in their way.”
Harry Bourassa, president of Tracy Futbol Club, said that Legacy Fields was just one part of a bigger picture involving sports groups and the city. Even with a 10-acre portion of the first phase, enough for four full-size soccer fields, his group would still rent Plasencia Fields and Tracy Sports Complex, both on 11th Street, from the city for local tournaments.
He added that his group had two sponsors ready to provide nearly $200,000 in 2013, but those sponsors backed away as TFC and the city continued to negotiate over details related to all three venues.
Bourassa said that while other sports groups rent the 11th Street complexes, some of them allowed to have on-site storage sheds, he wanted to make sure that Tracy Futbol Club would still have access to those fields even with Legacy Fields added to the mix.
“Part of the agreement moving forward is they would accommodate us equally and fairly,” he said.
Contact Bob Brownne at email@example.com or 830-4227.