Friday, January 26, 2018

"Minor League - like" baseball may come to Elk Grove

Preliminary talks have begun that could send a unique minor league-like baseball franchise to Elk Grove. 

In December, representatives of local sports organizations, members of the City Council and Elk Grove city representatives met with Ken Wilson, commissioner of the Great West League, to discuss the possibility of a locally-owned franchise beginning play, hopefully very soon. 
Logo of the Great West
baseball league, hoping to
start a franchise in Elk Grove

The Great West League is one of the premier summer collegiate wood bat leagues. According to its website, it provides professional minor league-like atmosphere for top college players seeking professional baseball careers. In 2017, the Great West League had franchises in Medford, Ore., Klamath Falls, Ore., Yuba City, San Francisco, Chico and Lincoln. 

According to notes taken from the meeting on Dec. 7 and provided to me, Wilson stressed that his league games offer a family-like atmosphere.

"The Great West League sees Elk Grove demographics as ideal for success," Wilson wrote in his meeting summary. "(City of Elk Grove) has all the assets necessary with (the ) exception (of a) fully adequate facility."

In the past, I have written that same opinion in this column. For as baseball crazy as our city is, we stink when it comes to our baseball diamonds, for the most part. We have been ripe for a minor league baseball franchise for years, but we haven't built that one facility in which not just a team such as a Great West League squad could play, but high schools, our Babe Ruth League or even our area colleges could use. 

We're talking about a stadium-type lighted facility in which 1,500 - 2,500 could be seated with concessions, rest-rooms, press box, dugouts and team rooms could be constructed. Can you imagine a weekend event where, say, on a Friday night Elk Grove High School plays Franklin then on Saturday at noon Cosumnes River College plays Sacramento City College followed by a Babe Ruth League doubleheader?

How about an season opening showcase where all ten local high school varsity baseball teams play five games against each other - two games on Friday, three more on Saturday? Charge $10 admission and after covering expenses, give the rest to the Elk Grove Food Bank? And, like Raley Field, ask the baseball booster clubs to run the snack bar during their games and they keep the profits?

Wilson said at the meeting that a site for this kind of baseball stadium would be at Bartholomew Sports Park where a regulation diamond already exists. His estimate is that an upgrade to that facility would run $640,000. 

He's poking the City and CSD to crack open the wallets and built such a baseball stadium. Wilson also lofted the idea of developing the Brown Diamond in Elk Grove Regional Park.
Maureen Zamarrippa of CSD was at the meeting and promised Wilson she'd be presenting the idea to the CSD Board.

The idea so far has gained some excitement from local baseball fans, however, as Wilson wrote in his meeting notes, "the project is challenging and needs local advocates/champions."

Count me in as an advocate. 

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