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Manteca may turn Morenzone into baseball field
PARK1 12-14-13
Morenzone Field may be converted for baseball play. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Morenzone Field — created originally for adult softball — could be converted to accommodate 13- to 15-year-old Little League baseball play.

It won’t be cheap. Once all costs that include modifying the infield for 90-foot base lines and installing new bleachers as well as dugouts and fence modifications the price tag comes to $510,000.

The city has the money to undertake the transformation of the Center Street field west of Union Road. But to make it happen, the council would have to bump other projects already identified for funding in the current budget using park-related funds.

Mayor Willie Weatherford and Councilman Vince Hernandez are asking the council to do just that when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane. The meeting’s location on the Civic Center campus is a departure from the usual meeting spot as the council chambers are undergoing renovations to bring them up to American with Disabilities Act standards.

Converting the lighted field for baseball play has been talked about for years. The two have met with leaders from the city’s three Little Leagues — Northgate, Spreckels, and Manteca — over the past several years to discuss the project. When Big League Dreams was being pursued to accommodate adult softball, the city council at the time indicated the long-range plan was to make Morenzone available for baseball since the softball use would shift. The BLD sports complex has been open now for six years.

Projects that could be bumped include conceptual projects to renovate the Lincoln and Northgate picnic areas, exercise stations at Woodward park, and several playground upgrade projects.

The fees that would be used were collected from new growth specifically for parks and recreation projects.

Work needed for Morenzone Field also includes installing new concrete, making ADA improvements for access to the site plus the existing  restroom building, modifying irrigation for coverage of all new turf, new infield/warning track material, new outfield fencing, and netting to protect the golf, course and Stine gate apartments from errant baseballs.