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COMMUNITY SPORTS

Baseball stadium taking shape at McBean Park

New diamond to have economic benefits
By: Jim Linsdau and Steve Archer of The News Messenger
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Renovations on the ball diamond at McBean Park are well underway and should bring Lincoln a first-class stadium by sometime this fall.

The project is a partnership between the city of Lincoln, William Jessup University and Lincoln Little League. Following the completion of the improvements, William Jessup baseball plans to begin fall-ball scrimmages and will play its regular-season home games there next spring.

Farnum Smith, associate athletic director at the university, said the school had been in talks with Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department for some time. A proposal to share the cost and benefits of the new stadium were reached and presented to the city council.

“We’re excited about it. We’re excited, obviously, for our team,” Smith said, “and excited for the city of Lincoln and what it will bring to the city.”

Placer Valley Tourism was also included in the negotiations and a financing agreement amounting to nearly $1 million was agreed upon. The city agreed to release about $329,000 from unspent Redevelopment Agency bond funds to get the project started.

Verde Design Group was the architect of the project and Sierra Valley Construction was contracted to do the work that began June 6. Both companies have a great deal of experience in the design and construction of sports facilities.

It was reported that a group known as Friends of McBean Stadium were interested in forming a team to join the Great West League. The GWL was formed in 2014 and includes the states of California and Oregon. It is a wood-bat league and made up of collegiate players wanting to stay active in baseball over the summer.

The teams presently in the league are the Chico Heat, Lodi Crushers, Marysville Gold Sox, Medford Rogues, Portland Pickles and Sacramento Stealth. It was proposed that the team be 50 percent owned by local investors.

Former Lincoln High baseball player Isaiah Garcia is a member of the Stealth. Stealth Director of Baseball Operations Danny Royster said his club is also doing renovations for a home stadium at historic Harry Renfree Field.

“It was the first lighted field in Sacramento, which was built in 1967,” Royster said. “We are in the process of beginning renovation. We’re hoping it will be ready for the fall.”

Royster said the league has discussed having two teams in close proximity to each other, but the feeling is the two markets can sustain themselves.

Lincoln City Manager Matt Brower reinforced Royster’s comment about the Great West League being able to support two teams in the area.

“Absolutely yes, they both can,” Brower said, adding that the collaborative agreement between the city and William Jessup to renovate McBean Field drew the attention of the Great West League. “(They) see Lincoln as a viable spot for an expansion team in the summer of 2017.

“So really, the alignment of stars just came together. I don’t think you could have orchestrated a better sequence of events than what just transpired here in Lincoln.”

The Warriors of William Jessup University belong to the Golden State Athletic Conference. The league consists of Arizona Christian University, Biola University, Hope International University, Menlo College, San Diego Christian College, The Master’s College, Vanguard University, Westmont College, as well as Jessup.

Phase I of the renovation, which includes installation of an artificial turf infield and grass outfield, plus dugouts and other improvements, should be completed by early fall.

Brower said Lincoln Little League has committed to building the batting cages.

Phase II will take in improvements to the spectator facilities.

Brower said Friends of McBean Stadium were instrumental in getting the field ready for construction and were now raising money for the stadium renovations. He said the GWL also plans to be involved in Phase II.

Lincoln Economic Development Director Shawn Tillman said Phase II is just in the beginning stages.

“What we’re calling Phase II is basically the improvements behind the backstop,” Tillman said. “We’re just in the process right now to determine what the extent of those improvements will be. We’re just in the beginning stages of designing that.”

Tillman said there will be a design-plan workshop at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at city hall.