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City scores $494K from BLD
Sports complex lures 430,705 in paid attendance
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The economy might be wobbling but Big League Dreams has legs.

The sports complex set new records in 2009 surpassing $2.1 million in revenues plus 430,705 in paid attendance.

That means the City of Manteca received $494,284.70 in 2009 as its share of the gross under terms of the 35-year lease agreement for the sports complex that features six replica Major League  Baseball fields, two restaurants, and an indoor soccer arena.

The $2,150,652 BLD grossed last year topped 2008 receipts by $341,080. Attendance was also up by over 30,000 patrons compared to 2008. So far in 2010, attendance and gross revenue are both up over seven percent from 2009’s record setting pace.

Since the complex was built with nearly $30 million in redevelopment agency funds, there is no debt that must be paid back. Instead a council resolution from four years ago directs the money into parks projects. The philosophy was that out-of-town sports teams plus local adult sports leagues would help underwrite youth recreation facilities for Manteca residents.

Critics contend the city will never retrieve its investment. At the current rate of return Manteca will receive more than $16 million over 35 years plus avoid $17 million in maintenance and operational costs. The business plan for the complex noted if Manteca built a typical sports complex that was run by municipal staff that it would cost at least $500,000 a year to maintain and operate. The lease with BLD makes the private firm responsible for all those costs. The city by using RDA money also avoided financing costs.  RDA, by state law, must create debt by borrowing against property tax increment. Manteca had already borrowed the RDA funds and had them available when the BLD project moved forward. The RDA, which the city utilizes to put in place municipal infrastructure and amenities whenever legal to do so, does not have to be repaid. Most cities borrow money against park growth fees for major recreational facilities and then pay it back with interest as building permits are issued and growth fees are collected.

So for 2010, the BLD complex will have:

•tournaments every weekend of the year featuring out-of-town teams.

•a six-day, 70-team Girls Fast Pitch World tournament
•the complex’s first wedding that will feature a couple who are softball enthusiasts along with a party of 80. The ceremonies will take place on a replica field while the reception will take place in one of the two stadium club restaurants.

•a gathering of the Electrical Workers Union on Aug. 7-8 featuring a softball tournament, meetings, and a buffet banquet for 300 people in the soccer arena. The event has already sold out the rooms in two Manteca hotels.

•a third indoor youth soccer season will be added in May.

•an anticipated 8,000 guests at the Independence Day celebration that takes place on July 3.

There are currently 70-plus people employed at the BLD complex with additional staff being hired in the coming weeks as warmer weather increases use.

The free use of the field prior to the weekly adult league starting is now drawing hundreds of youth who use the fields mid-afternoon to practice for Little League and girls softball play.