SBD/Issue 34/Facilities & Venues

Triple-A Ballpark Could Be Part Of Mixed-Use Project In Escondido

The city of Escondido, Calif. yesterday, hours before it held a forum on plans to build a ballpark for the Padres' Triple-A team, released a "city-commissioned report outlining construction of a complex that includes the sports venue, more than 3,200 homes, two hotels and 760,000 square feet of commercial and retail space," according to J. Harry Jones of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The 150-acre Sports Entertainment District "would be a major undertaking that could take well over a decade to complete." The London Group, which prepared the study, "didn't offer a price tag for the overall project, but it did estimate that roughly $180 million could be borrowed in bonds based on the projected tax revenues generated." Escondido officials said that there "appears to be widespread community support for the general idea of building a ballpark to house the baseball team." Most critics "agree the concept is exciting, but they draw the line at the complicated financing plan that would essentially use much of the city's redevelopment money for the next decade to pay for construction and associated expenses." Jones notes the 9,000-seat, roughly $50M ballpark would be home to the Triple-A PCL Portland Beavers, as they are currently known. A group of investors led by Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad "has agreed to buy the Beavers and move them to Escondido in time for the 2012 season, should the ballpark be ready by then." Negotiations are "continuing between Escondido officials and Moorad's group." A majority of the City Council "has said it needs more details before deciding whether to finalize the deal" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/28).

WORTH THE RISK? The London Group President Gary London said that the "increased redevelopment property tax revenue" from office buildings, retail development and housing would amount to $12.2M per year. London said that this revenue "would allow the city to pay back the money borrowed to build the ballpark and have millions left over for other development" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 10/28). Escondido officials said that "no deal will be in place until the council votes Nov. 30." City Manager Clay Phillips said that the site "would need to be cleared eventually for another development if plans for the city to spend $50 million building the ballpark fall through." So city officials "recently sent an eviction notice to North County Interfaith's drug and alcohol treatment center, which is next to the public works yard on Spruce Street." The City Council also was "scheduled to approve spending $5 million in redevelopment money" yesterday "for 4 acres now occupied by a plumbing company next to the public works site." Critics contend that city officials "would not be acting so aggressively if they had doubts about how the council will vote Nov. 30 on the ballpark" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 10/27).

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