Sports

San Rafael Mulls Adoption Of Minor League Baseball Team

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(AP)

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) – The San Rafael Parks and Recreation Commission was set to hear a proposal Thursday to bring professional baseball to Albert Park next year.

The San Rafael team would join six others in the independent North American League’s Western Division and play half of its 90 games at Albert Park at B and Treanor streets between late May and early September starting next year.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

The games would not start before 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If the commission approves the proposed, it could then go before the City Council.

Dublin resident Brian Clark, chief executive officer of Centerfield Partners LLC, owns the North American League’s territory rights for the Bay Area.

Brian Sobel, a consultant to Centerfield Partners, said reaction to the proposal at a meeting of several San Rafael neighborhood associations recently was “outstanding.”

“There were some questions by some about noise, traffic and alcohol. There are some neighbors who are not happy, but we had a wonderful dialog,” Sobel said.

Brian Gannon and Samantha Sargent, of San Rafael, are two of those unhappy neighbors. They said the proposal needs to move through the regular planning approval and environmental review process like any other development.

“The proposal trivializes everything. This is a new development. Its impact will be monumental,” Gannon said.

Under the proposal, the ballpark’s 750-seat grandstand would expand to 1,500 seats. Seating also would be added to the first and third base sides of the field behind existing netting and on the field past the end of the dugouts with fencing or netting to protect fans and players.

Centerfield Partners also wants to provide a mobile concession stand and several barbecue stands. Currently, there is no concession stand at the field.

Most fans are expected to access the park by foot from downtown or nearby neighborhoods or by cars from U.S. Highway 101, which is one-third of a mile east of the park, according to the proposal.

Centerfield Partners estimates between 1,000 and 1,500 fans will attend the games and 300-500 parking spaces will be needed.

A parking lot and garage across Andersen Drive from Albert Field will accommodate 700 cars. Traffic and parking will be directed away from neighborhood streets, according to the proposal.

There also are 700 additional parking spaces in city parking lots at A and C streets.

Gannon and Sargent said that the project’s parking requirements are understated, that people will be parking on crowded neighborhoods streets to avoid paying for parking, and that there needs to be a study on the increased traffic the games will draw.

There are no sanitation facilities on site, and 30-40 portable toilets will have to be brought in to accommodate the crowd, the objectors said.

Serving alcohol would add to the existing problem of public drunkenness in Albert Park, Gannon and Sargent said.

Centerfield Partners has offered to pay San Rafael field rental rates of $250 for a day game and $500 for a night game based on a minimum 6-hour rental.

Centerfield Partners also is proposing a two-year agreement starting in January 2012 with an option for a third year.

“They are giving them a pass and exempting them from planning regulations,” Sargent said.

“There will be a war down here in San Rafael. This will destroy our neighborhood,” Gannon said.

Bringing professional baseball to San Rafael will provide low-cost family entertainment and draw shoppers and others to San Rafael, Sobel said.

There will be a contest to come up with a name for the San Rafael team, Sobel said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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