“Build it and they will come.”
That’s the quote from Field of Dreams that Don Johns imagined when he initially gazed upon the vast agricultural area at River Islands some four years ago.
The legendary Danville baseball coach knew of Lathrop but was quite unfamiliar with the master-planned community located on the other side of the San Joaquin River.
Johns, who founded HOOTS Baseball Club in 1991, shared the vision with the likes of field designer Don Coleman, project manager Susan Dell’Osso, and others from the City of Lathrop in making the Islanders Field a reality.
On Wednesday, the new 550-seat baseball stadium finally opened to much fanfare.
“We finished it a week ahead of schedule,” said Dell’Osso, praising the efforts of Lyn Hale and his crew from Hale Construction coupled with the rain-out of a week ago that moved the ribbon-cutting ceremony to this day.
“It turned out to be a beautiful day,” she added.
Islanders Field — a mixed configuration by the Cambay Group consisting of both bleachers and stadium seating along with a press box, scoreboard, restrooms, lights and spacious dugouts coupled with the soccer facility next door — is only one piece of the puzzle planned for this area located near the Bradshaw Crossing Bridge, according to Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal.
The new ballpark is an anchor to this area which will ultimately be the Town Center.
“Someday it will all come together,” the mayor said. “Be patient — it will take time.”
Recently, the Welcome Center relocated nearby.
Firefighters from the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District and Lathrop Police Services officers had the honors of playing the first-ever game at Islanders Field.
“It’s a nice field. It’ll be fun playing on it,” said San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jordan Duncan, who barely had to time to practice beforehand.
The game followed the ribbon-cutting ceremony — San Joaquin County Board of Supervisor Bob Elliott was also hand to present a proclamation to mark the special event — and was just the first of many.
“Together, we built something special,” said Coleman, who rattled off several big baseball tournaments scheduled for this summer. “They will come.”