SAN CLEMENTE : City May Take Over Softball Complex

A softball complex with four lighted playing fields that was built last summer by a private developer for almost $1 million may fall into the city's hands for free.

South Coast Sports Enterprises, which built the complex on land owned by the city, missed a bankruptcy court deadline to submit reorganization plans, City Atty. Jeff Oderman told the City Council on Wednesday. As a result, Oderman said, the city can legally assume the company's lease for the softball park.

"We are proceeding with plans to take over the operation" of the softball leagues using the park, said City Manager Michael T. Parness. South Coast Sports Enterprises and the city were partners in the project to build a championship-caliber softball park in the scenic rolling hills of east San Clemente.

But soon after the complex opened last summer in Richard T. Steed Memorial Park, the city received complaints from some of the contractors who said they had not been paid.

In January, the City Council voted to declare a breach of contract with South Coast Sports Enterprises when some of the contractors filed lawsuits against the city totaling more than $200,000. The sports management firm responded by declaring bankruptcy to protect its nearly $1-million investment in the park.

There was no answer to repeated telephone calls made to the company's San Clemente office.

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