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BLD: Game changer for Manteca
Cash flowing into general fund; other rec projects were leveraged
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A player throws a ball at Big League Dreams. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Twelve years ago Yankee Field was a corn field.
Today the replica Major League field is helping harvest more than $800,000 a year for the City of Manteca’s general fund from lease payments and room taxes.
Big League Dreams — that starts its 10th season next month — has proven to be a game changer for recreation in Manteca.
Before the BLD sports complex that includes six replica fields, an indoor soccer arena, two restaurants, and batting cages was built the Manteca Parks and Recreation staff ran adult softball leagues at Northgate Park.
The fees paid by teams basically covered scorekeepers, officials, and the costs of other manpower to run the leagues. Maintenance of the field — watering, mowing, prepping for games, and repairs — was not covered.
The city-owned sports complex is being leased for 35 years by Big League Dreams. Not only are they responsible for running leagues but they also are required to maintain and repair the complex. The net operational cost to the city is zero for the next 35 years. Based on projections made when ground was broken on the $30 million complex built primarily with redevelopment agency funds, the BLD arrangement avoids $17 million in general fund costs to save city taxpayers roughly $500,000 a year based on maintaining the complex that was built on former wastewater treatment plant land along Milo Candini Drive and Daniels Street.
Unlike traditional municipal baseball complexes, there is no loan or bond to pay back using general fund revenue. The RDA funds were from bonds that are being repaid with property tax tied specifically to new growth that occurred in the agency’s boundaries. The state has since ended RDAs. Taxes committed to repay the bonds will be split between various taxing agencies once the debt is retired.
As a result, the $427,079 that Manteca received from BLD as a percentage of gross receipts last fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016 went to the general fund.
Based on receipts from nine fiscal years and without figuring for inflation, BLD will generate $15 million for the municipal general fund over 35 years.
Local leagues that draw players as far away as the Bay Area and Sacramento play during the week. The key to the BLD success, though, has been their ability to book tournaments every weekend since play started in the fall of 2007.
By using RDA money to build the sports complex Manteca also:
uwas able to secure an indoor soccer arena.
ufree up the Northgate softball complex for youth play.
umade it possible to revamp Morezone Field that was originally built for adult softball on Center Street for senior division Little League play.
udivert park fees collected on growth to develop Woodward Park amenities instead of building new adult softball fields.
The BLD attendance is in excess of 400,000 paid spectators annually.
And while the city had tournaments previously at Northgate Park, the frequency was nowhere near BLD’s. The drawing power due to the facilities and its location equidistance from Sacramento, San Jose, and San Francisco has helped draw teams and spectators that have helped triple hotel room occupancy in Manteca. The city is now incurring $1 million a year in hotel room taxes that also go to the general fund.
If only 60 percent of the hotel tax percent growth is specifically attributed to BLD tournament bookings that accounts for $400,000 a year.
Room taxes attributed to the BLD and lease payments, means Manteca’s general fund will take in roughly $25 million over 35 years from the decision to build the sports complex.
The success of BLD is what caught the attention of developers and operators interested in building a 500-room hotel and indoor waterpark with a conference center on city-owned land near the sports complex.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email