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More BLD playing fields?
Manteca exploring possibility
BLD2 5-21-15
Players exchange pleasantries at the end of a Big League Dream sports complex softball game. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Big League Dreams may expand.

City officials have been talking with the Cathedral City-based organization about adding additional fields to the city-owned sports complex that BLD operates.

Manteca a few years backed discussed the possibility of creating two standard softball fields in a storm retention basin immediately west of the 30-acre BLD complex. At the time it was envisioned that they would have normal bleachers and not be full-blown replica stadiums.

As the city and its consultants delved into market research for the proposed 210-acre family entertainment zone (FEZ) being pursued on municipal-owned wastewater treatment plant land west of BLD and Costco, they decided it would make sense to explore more options.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted it could involve two or more fields that could even be replica stadiums as well.

“A lot of it depends upon what BLD wants and is willing to do,” McLaughlin said, noting discussions are preliminary at best.

The BLD complex opened in October 2006. It has consistently exceeded city projections for both revenue generation and cost avoidance. BLD has a basic 35-year lease with options to extend it.

The Manteca operation has been the most successful among BLD complexes in terms of revenue, attendance, and the number of tournaments. A weekend hasn’t gone by since it was opened that there hasn’t been tournament play at the Manteca BLD complex.

Besides the six replica fields there is an indoor soccer arena and two restaurants

McLaughlin said there is no talk of possibly adding a second indoor soccer arena.

The FEZ proposal includes a 500-room  resort complete with a 75,000-square-foot indoor water park, a 15,000-square-foot outdoor waterpark, 37,500 square feet of restaurants and a 30,000-square-foot conference center.

The FEZ concept is devised to build on the success of BLD, Bass Pro Shops and Woodward Park (in the form of soccer tournaments) in attracting regional visitors’ dollars to Manteca.

There would be 62 acres set aside for indoor and outdoor amateur sports activities. That’s in addition to 28.5 acres for the expansion of the BLD complex and the creation of multiple use fields with the primary emphasis on soccer. The fields, just like BLD, would be operated and games booked by a private sector partner. And just like the BLD fields, the multi-use fields would be available for free use by the public weekdays before 4:30 p.m.

The project also envisions a stadium built around an internationally sized field.

It also is aiming to tap into a younger market that is developing in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and the growing trend of families to take vacations built around their children’s sport activities.

The heart of the FEZ would be a manmade lake. Some 33 acres could accommodate up to 337,000 square feet of restaurants and retail.

The sports portion is proposed to include an indoor arena designed for basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and cheerleading competition.

Other sports envisioned include a BMX track, a race course for mini-electric race cars, and a hard surface skate park.

The city is hoping to encourage private sector partners to offer activities such as miniature golf, family arcade games, laser tag, and ball crawl. Significant facilities could include a rock climbing wall, ropes course, zip line, and a flow-ride facility that creates waves for surfing and similar uses employing boards.