December 16, 2010 (Escondido) – Local sports fans will be able to cheer on a Padres’ Triple-A baseball team in Escondido starting with the season opening in 2013, if plans proceed on time to build a $50 million stadium approved yesterday by the Esondido City Council.
But several issues remain to be resolved.
Padres’ owner Jeff Moorad has said he hopes to buy the Triple-A Portland Beavers and bring the team to Escondido—with a name change, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports today.
Groundbreaking is slated for January 2012 on the 9,000 seat minor league stadium, with opening day in April 2013, if all goes according to plan.
Escondido’s Council voted 4-1 in favor of spending redevelopment funds on the project, which would be located just north of downtown Escondido. Councilman Ed Gallo cast the lone “no” vote, arguing that the city can’t afford the expense because the project doesn’t offer enough guaranteed return on investment. But other members said the ballpark with spur job creation and development which they believe will boost the economy.
However, council members have requested several changes before a final agreement is reached in February. Mayor Sam Abed asked investors to cover up to $10 million in potential land and infrastructure cost increases, more than the $5 million initially agreed upon, and also opposes a proposal to give Moorad and his investors an exclusive option to buy city land next to the ballpark, the North County Times reports.
Councilmember Diaz also asked that the city receive a share of revenues from the ballpark; however an attorney hired by the City said any such revenue transfer could jeopardize the project’s tax-exempt status.
Dozens of residents spoke at the hearing. The majority favored the project, citing economic opportunities and the advantages of being able to attend games locally. However a substantial minority opposed the project, citing high costs and arguing that the deal favored Moorad at the city’s expense.