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Oxnard OKs Minor League Ballpark Study

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Plans for a minor league baseball stadium in Ventura County moved a little closer to first base Tuesday when the Oxnard City Council agreed to help pay for a feasibility study.

Ventura and Camarillo--the other cities interested in the project--have already agreed to pay their shares of the $85,000 study, which also will come up with possible sites for the ballpark.

Joseph Gagliardi, president of Class A California League, has pledged to bring a team to the area if the three cities can somehow deliver a stadium.

The cities have responded by hiring the Spectrum Group, an Irvine-based firm that helped bring minor league baseball to Lake Elsinore and Rancho Cucamonga, to do the study. It is the first step of an effort to build a stadium in time for the 1996 season.

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The study will outline nine to 12 possible sites for the stadium, mostly along the Ventura Freeway. It will also contain attendance projections, marketing studies, demographic analyses and revenue estimates.

Most important, it will tackle the toughest obstacle facing the plan: finding private funding for the stadium. The cities have all vowed not to pay for the ballpark, which could cost up to $12 million.

“I don’t think we’d be prepared to spend much money, if any, on a park,” Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez said. “I think it would be beneficial to all the cities to have a park in this area. But we don’t know who will pay for it.”

Most minor league teams can barely pay their operating costs, experts say, adding that expecting them to pay the mortgage on a stadium is out of the question.

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Even funding a study on a stadium that may not be built in their community--if it is built at all--was questioned by some officials in each of the three cities.

But all three city councils eventually agreed to cooperate in funding the study, with some council members saying a minor league ballpark would increase quality of life in the area and provide low-cost family entertainment.

Several officials from each city toured stadium sites in Adelanto, Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore in February, concluding that the parks had a positive effect on those communities.

Accounting for differences in size, Camarillo will pay $15,725, Ventura $27,030 and Oxnard $42,245 for the study. Camarillo will act as the main contact with the Spectrum Group, which plans to present its findings in August.

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The proposed stadium is expected to be a multipurpose facility that could also accommodate festivals, soccer and football games, as well as special events.


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