Soccer league joins sports field effort
by Jon Mendelson
Sep 05, 2012 | 2496 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Tracy Youth Soccer League became the fourth youth sports association to sign up for sports fields north of the city Tuesday, Sept 4.

A unanimous vote by the City Council solidified a deal that will have TYSL lease 9.7 acres of the Holly Sugar Sports Complex for the next 15 years, with a 10-year option the city can extend at the end of that period.

The league will pay the city $1,455 per year and maintain the fields under the lease’s terms, while the city will maintain roads and other vital infrastructure.

The soccer league agreed to contracts similar to those signed by the Tracy Fútbol Club, Tracy Little League and Tracy Babe Ruth, rounding out the players attached to the first phase of development for the complex off Tracy Boulevard, north of Interstate 205.

Shirley Thompson, president of TYSL, said after the council meeting that the league took longer to finalize the contract than other leagues because its leaders wanted to fully vet several issues, including runoff from irrigation.

“We had a few things we had to iron out,” Thompson said. “Nobody should jump into (memorandums of understanding) without thoroughly researching things.”

Thompson said her league includes 1,700 players on teams ranging from under-6-years-old to under-19 years-old. TYSL has had recent problems finding enough fields for the youth to practice and play, she said.

“We struggle every year just to find places for them to practice,” she said. “It’s kind of rough. It’s a constant battle.”

City staff explained during the meeting that the city’s role in preparing the sports complex should be completed by the middle of January. The next step will be for the clubs to put in their playing surfaces, a project that Thompson said will be a challenge because both labor and money are needed. The league is still determining the costs of installing the fields and subsequent work needed to prepare them for league play.

“It’s going to take the community to help do this,” she said.

After years of advocating for more fields, Thompson said it was a “great” step forward — and not just for her club.

“I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and been fighting for this for 15 years,” she said. “It’s a much-needed thing for all of the sports in town.”

Sports complex name game

The council also took a first step toward naming the Holly Sugar Sports Complex.

All four members of the council agreed that staff should look at selling naming rights to the under-construction sports complex in exchange for either a one-time lump sum or annual payments.

But, all four council members said, staff should also consider a naming process that could combine a sponsor’s name with a local historical element.

According to a staff report delivered by city management analyst Vanessa Carrera, such an arrangement could pay homage “to a historic, geographical or cultural element within the community, while maintaining the benefits of a for-profit business naming rights agreement, which include revenue generation and greater marketing exposure.”

Examples offered by Carrera included naming rights deals in Gloucester, Mass., and Lewisville, Texas, which netted their respective cities $500,000 over 10 years and $1.5 million over 10 years, respectively.

Waste project goes forward

The council unanimously agreed to changes in a project designed to save the city money and desalinate city wastewater in order to meet state salt discharge standards.

In addition to extending a timeline for the project’s completion by 18 months, the council agreed to add an ethanol alcohol component.

Now, sugar beets will be used to create the ethanol, which will power a significant portion of the plant that otherwise, would have needed electricity from Pacific Gas and Electric Co., according to Frank Schubert of Combined Solar Technologies, the company designing the desalinization system.

The mash left over from the converted beets will be added to cattle feed, while the electricity generated will be sold to the city at a reduced rate to power the desalinization plant, according to city staff.

After the council meeting, Schubert said that will bring a cost savings to the city and speed up the project’s finish date.

He said a two-year timeline for completion of the plan approved Tuesday was more than realistic.

“We’re putting full weight into it,” Schubert said, adding that not having to negotiate with PG&E knocked three to five years off his timetable.

He added that without CST’s novel approach to taking the salt out of the treated wastewater Tracy discharges into Old River, the city was looking at a more costly desalinization system that could have required increasing local water rates “200 percent” or more.

At a glance

WHAT: Tracy City Council regular meeting

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4

WHERE: City Hall, 333 Civic Center Plaza

DETAILS: Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel, councilmen Steve Abercrombie, Bob Elliott and Robert Rickman were present. Mayor Brent Ives was absent.

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