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Council to Vote on Pro Baseball at Albert Field

If you cannot make the meeting, send your questions to nicole.ely@patch.com or tweet @sanrafaelpatch and I will ask them for you during public comment.

San Rafael City Council members will vote on a company’s scaled back proposal to bring a North American League professional baseball team to next summer.

Dublin-based partnership Centerfield Partners, LLC to avoid an environmental review. If approved, they would be permitted to use the field for one year and city officials will hold a community meeting Sept 20 to discuss lease conditions.

Centerfield Partners considered doing the initial $30,000 to $40,000 study of the project's impacts but decided against it because of the significant cost and the prospect of delaying fielding a team until 2013, Sobel said.

The New Proposal

The original proposal, , included expanding seating to 1,500, renovated bathrooms, new netting and parking arrangements to accommodate the crowds during the 45-game season that was to start in spring 2012 at the 60-year-old park.

Now, the seating will remain at 700 seats and 100 for standing room, there will be free parking at the San Rafael Corporate Center and the lease will be one year instead of three, according to Centerfield’s consultant Brian Sobel.

To make up the difference, Centerfield Partners plans to charge higher prices for tickets and to sell more corporate sponsorships, Sobel said.

The original price they considered was between $6 and $10, and now they are looking at a range of $8 to $15, but that is not final, he said.

“This, in our view, is not a project,” he said. “We are not developers. We’re just renting the field like any other applicant.”

There will be no music or on-field entertainment after 9 p.m. and Centerfield Partners will hire a local security firm for the parking lot, around the ballpark perimeter and inside the park. Tailgating will be prohibited under the revised plan.

There will be temporary concessions, including sales of beer and wine, in the existing areas within the fence line.

Alcohol consumption will be prohibited in the parking lot and around the ballpark perimeter, no one will be allowed to bring alcohol into the park and alcohol sales will stop after the seventh inning. No on will be served more than two drinks at one time, under the new proposal.

Concerns from Opponents

Several neighbors are still concerned over noise, parking, lights and alcohol consumption.

Dotty LeMieux, the lawyer representing a coalition of residents and business owners in five San Rafael neighborhoods known as Communities for Albert Park, said the possibility of sports fans eating in local restaurants is slim because they would have to arrive early to find parking and food will be sold at the ballpark.

Even with the scaled down proposal, “there’s still going to be noise. There’s still going to be alcohol. And 80 percent of the people are coming from outside San Rafael,” she said. "We just don't see the benefits."

Support from the Community

Beginning Sept. 13, San Rafael Patch posted on how readers would like the City Council to vote on the issue. Over 500 people voted, and 67 percent said they were supportive while 30 percent said no.

In Friday’s letter to the editor, about a minor league team in Cape Cod that built a strong community following.

“It's a shared experience that bonds communities,” she wrote. “What else does San Rafael have that does that?”

Email Questions

The City Council meeting begins at 8 p.m. at . San Rafael Patch will be live blogging the meeting.

If you are not able to attend the meeting but have questions, send them to nicole.ely@patch.com or tweet them to @sanrafaelpatch by 5p.m. today and I will ask them during public comment for you.

Also check out our Pro Baseball at Albert Field Facebook page to see earlier coverage of the issue.

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