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Manteca BLD complex is still setting records
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Amateur recreation is still scoring in Manteca despite the recession.

The Big League Dreams is on pace for its sixth straight year of increased rent payments to Manteca for the 30-acre city-owned complex. BLD has paid Manteca $278,889 in rent for the first nine months of 2012. That’s based on BLD’s overall gross revenue of $1,721,351 from January through September.

Attendance is also on track to repeat as the BLD leader among the 11 locations it operates in California, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada. Manteca set company-wide attendance records both in2010 and 2011 with more than 430,000 people paying to attend games. Those attendance numbers exceed the next closest locations by about 100,000.

There were 312,115 in paid attendance from January to the end of September last year.

This year marks the first time rent payments will go directly into the city’s general fund. Manteca has budgeted a conservative $271,000 in revenue receipts which is significantly under which is what they received last year.

For the past five years, council policy directed rent payments to go back into the account were fees collected on new growth to build park facilities. That’s because more than $1 million was taken from growth fees for community parks to marry with nearly $29 million in redevelopment agency funds to build the city-owned complex

There was no statutory requirement to do so since the BLD complex is city owned and qualified as a recreational facility that park growth -fees can be spent on. The council, though, did not want to see other recreational needs suffer because the BLD complex was built. Most of the money that BLD has paid back has gone into Woodward Park.

The complex has now been up and running for 72 months. That is still less time, though, than the city spent vetting, debating and going through dozens of council meetings that ran in excess of five hours each and were packed with residents who didn’t want the complex built at Woodward Park. From the time then Councilwoman Denise Giordano suggested the city consider pursuing the public-private partnership she came across at a League of California Cities conference to the actual opening of the BLD complex it was 85 months.

Backers of the BLD plan argued that it was the only way Manteca could overcome a deficit of insufficient recreation facilities by avoiding maintenance and operation costs for 35 years under the BLD lease. It also involved employing RDA funds so the sports complex and Woodward Park could be developed at the same time.

The city also was banking on various economic studies that showed amateur sports - especially at venues that were attractive and took care of the participants’ needs - was near-recession proof. That was tested over the past six years as the economy tanked but BLD continuing shattered revenue, attendance, and team participation records.

BLD is required to pay 16 percent of its gross revenue each year to Manteca as a rental payment. That is in addition to picking up all operation, maintenance and replacement costs of improvements over the 35 years of the lease. The minimum payment escalated annual until the seventh year. This year the minimum payment is $150,000. Next year it hits $160,000 and stays at that level until the end of the lease terms.

BLD has consistently been paying more than double the minimum lease amount as outlined in the contract.