The newest regulation-sized baseball field in the 209 will have a touch of AT&T Park and a setting that will give Banner Island Park in Stockton a run for the money.
Work started this month on Islander Field — a 500-seat baseball filed nestled against the San Joaquin River as you enter the 11,000-home River Islands at Lathrop planned community via the Bradshaw Crossing bridge. Plans are to christen the field with its first game in early October.
The stadium is rising up along River Islands Parkway next door to six soccer fields that will be ready for play this fall. Like the baseball field, the soccer fields will also be lighted. The field façade was inspired by AT&T Park — home of the San Francisco Giants — and will even feature barrel palm trees on the plaza.
The complex is aimed at providing a regulation baseball venue for boys ages 13 to 18 not just in the River Islands community but also the rest of Lathrop as well as nearby cities such as Manteca and Tracy.
And like Banner Island in addition to 500 fixed seats there will be grassy seating behind the outfield. While Banner Islands where the Stockton Ports play the grass seating backs up to the Deep Water Channel, behind Islander Field’s outfields is the San Joaquin River along with 300-foot wide levee that is being developed as a continuous 18-mile greenbelt park with paved path encircling River Islands.
The baseball and soccer complexes — both being developed and operated by River Islands — are the latest adjustments to the planned community’s master plan to make the development as family friendly as possible.
River Islands Project Manager Susan Dell’Osso noted the baseball field is where the town square was envisioned. By building the baseball field there, River Islands wants to recreate the tight valley community feeling that existed a century ago when communities had baseball fields that doubled as community gathering places in downtown areas much like Manteca with its ball field where Library Park is today.
As soon as work is completed on the entrance plaza for The Islander Field, River Islands will start staging weekly farmers’ markets.
River Islands isn’t simply providing the fields. They are contracting with well-established and successful youth programs in the Bay Area to establish leagues, stage clinics, and organize tournaments.
Don Johns — president and head coach of the Danville-based Hoots Baseball Club that has produced an American Legion National Championship team and a Connie Mack World Series Finalists — will oversee the baseball program.
“River Islands is building an impressive facility for youth baseball,” Johns noted.
The Hoots Baseball Club founded in 1991 as an American Legion Baseball achieved multiple California State Championships, three World Series appearances, and the American Legion National Championship in 2000.
As the Bay Area base changed and showcase baseball emerged, the club moved from American Legion Baseball and in 2005 affiliated with Connie Mack Baseball, a division of American Amateur Baseball Congress.
The Hoots have won both State and West Regional Championships in Connie Mack Baseball to advance to the World Series in Farmington, New Mexico and become only the second team in 50 years from Northern California to achieve that goal.
The Hoots have had several players make it into the majors while many former players have gone on to successful collegiate careers.
The Danville-based Mustangs Soccer Club led by John Doyle will oversee the soccer programs at River Islands.
Doyle’s storied playing history includes the Olympics, historic firsts for the United States in the World Cup, and a distinguished Major Soccer League career that included five years as the San Jose Earthquakes team captain as well as a stint as general manager.
Doyle is also the director of the coaching staff for the highly-regarded Mustang Soccer League that’s based in Danville and is known for their elite club play.
The fields are being put in place in an area that eventually will serve as the town center of River Islands.
The Mustang program — when it is up and running on River Islands — will be open to youth players throughout the area.
Both sports facilities underscore Cambay Group’s relentless commitment to create and build a strong family-orientated community. The firm’s willingness to open its pocketbooks to launch the highly successfully and highly regarded River Islands Tech Academy charter school that’s located near the soccer fields’ site is another indication of that commitment.
It isn’t by chance that Danville is in the same neck-of-the-woods of Cambay Group’s last 20-year transformative development — the 11,000 home Dougherty Valley project.
Johns noted the addition of The Islander will give the San Joaquin-Stanislaus counties its sixth quality regulation baseball field. Besides the minor league Banner Islands facility in Stockton and John Thurman Field in Modesto that have fixed seating from 4,200 and 4,000 respectively, there is the former home of the Ports at Stockton’s Billy Hebert Field that seats 3,800. The islander will have more fixed seating that either Delta College or the University of the Pacific.
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