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Manteca scores with BLD
Annual payments inch up toward $400K
The Big League Dreams sports complex is three months shy of eight years of operation in Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The Big League Dreams sports complex is heading into the home stretch of its eighth full season and it is still scoring big for Manteca.

For the seventh consecutive fiscal year rent payments to the city continued to increase reaching $392,094 for the 12-month period ending June 30. That’s up $19,000 over the previous fiscal year and is $82,000 more than the $310,000 Manteca received in BLD’s first full fiscal year of operation.

The BLD complex has generated just under $2.4 million for municipal coffers since it opened in October 2006.

“It’s still hitting home runs for Manteca,” noted Mayor Willie Weatherford who for seven years through the approval process until it was completed was the primary target of those in the community adamantly against the public-private partnership.

And while the growing rent payments are pleasing Weatherford, he said the most important thing for Manteca’s bottom line is the expense the city is avoiding by having built the facility with $29 million in redevelopment agency funds and then leasing it out for 35 years to operate and maintain.

When the end of October rolls around it is estimated Manteca will have avoided paying out $4 million or $500,000 a year to pay for staff to run the facility and maintain it as well as paying for maintenance, upkeep, replacing items and other costs such as electricity.

“It would have been an annual expense on the city budget many times more than upkeep on the Northgate Softball complex,” Weatherford noted.

The city also doesn’t have a debt payment to make from the general fund since the BLD complex was paid for with RDA bond receipts. That means neither the cost of building or borrowing the money to finance the six softball fields and indoor soccer arena plus two restaurants or the cost of running is a drag on the general fund.

Had the facility been built in a conventional manner such as the Tracy softball complex, Manteca would have had operating maintenance and debt expenses approaching $800,000 a year.

The Manteca complex continues to be the most successful of all 11 BLD facilities located in California, Nevada and Texas. It is top in play, revenues, and attendance.

The Manteca complex has yet to have a weekend — including winter holidays — where there hasn’t been at least one tournament booked.

Weatherford said that is one reason why the city needs to consider possibly building two more auxiliary fields as part of the proposed 170-acre family entertainment zone immediately west of BLD that could be anchored by a Great Wolf Lodge resort.

The mayor said the two additional fields would provide time for maintenance of the other fields plus meet a growing demand at the same time.

The original assumptions for the BLD complex projected 28 weekends of tournament play.

Manteca receives 16 percent of all revenues up to $1.4 million a year. Beyond $1.4 million in revenues brought in through registration, gate fees, restaurant receipts and pro shop sales the city receives 20 percent.

“Having it run by people with a business plan makes all the difference,” Weatherford said.

The mayor said if a similar arrangement was in place to run, operate, and maintain the municipal golf course he is confident that the course would be sending money to the city’s general fund each year.