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A Stadium Is in Sight : Consultants to Propose Location, Financing for Minor League Complex

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

With four potential sites identified for a minor league baseball stadium, western Ventura County leaders instructed consultants Monday to come back with a single location and a budget for financing the project.

Traffic impact, environmental constraints, land prices, even the shape of available tracts will be analyzed by the Orange County-based Spectrum Group, hired in June to find the best site for a stadium serving Oxnard, Camarillo and Ventura.

After that, the stadium consultants will complete a feasibility study for the three cities with advice on financing the project.

The choice of a site could prove a test for the cities, working in a rare cooperative effort to build the stadium needed to draw a Class A ball team to the region.

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“The fact of the matter is, when it ultimately gets down to one site, it’s going to be in one city,” said Bill Little, Camarillo city manager. “It can’t be in three cities.”

Consultants spent the past month analyzing nine potential stadium sites adjoining the Ventura Freeway. They narrowed their choices to four: a 53-acre tract near the Ventura Auto Center in Ventura; a 30-acre tract near Camarillo Springs Golf Course in Camarillo, and two sites in Oxnard, 49 acres near Rice Avenue and Gonzales Road, and 72 acres near Del Norte Boulevard and Rice.

The group expects to report back in early September about the site and a month later about financing, Little said. The three city councils are expected to consider the matter in October and November.

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Before developing a financial plan, though, consultants and city leaders must know more about the site, particularly the price of the land. Supporters are hoping landowners will donate some property, said Ventura City Councilman Jack Tingstrom, a member of the Tri-Cities Baseball Committee.

The push for a professional stadium picked up steam this spring when the California League promised to deliver a Class A baseball team to Ventura if communities here built a stadium.

The three west county communities agreed to work together on the project and have each contributed toward the feasibility study now underway. The Spectrum Group is studying population trends, as well as construction and operating budget costs.

“We’re taking this one step at a time,” Tingstrom said. “We’re not in a hurry to throw out the first pitch. We’re trying to get some family entertainment for western Ventura County.”

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Tingstrom said he envisioned the stadium as more than a home for a minor league team. It could feature concerts, as well as football games between high school rivals, he said. The new 6,000-seat stadium in Lake Elsinore drew 16,000 fans July 4 for a Wynonna concert.

“There are certain things you can do to fill this thing up the rest of the year,” Tingstrom said. “It’s what the community wants for quality of life. Everywhere I go, people tell me there’s nothing to do.”

But the true test will come when the communities must consider financing the project. Minor league teams seldom pay for themselves, and other communities have used bonds and public funds to pay for new stadiums. Some new facilities have cost as much as $12 million.


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