When the 2012 baseball season begins, Marinites might be flocking to San Rafael’s Albert Field to watch minor league baseball games.
At least that what C.E.O. of Centerfield Partners, LLC. Brian Clark hopes.
In a meeting with members of the Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods Wednesday night, Clark and two business associates presented a proposal to bring a professional baseball team to San Rafael. Their plan, which includes revamping to accommodate a new team, seeks to provide the community with low-cost entertainment while adding to the economic vitality of the city, according to Clark.
“We really want this to be about community,” he said. “We know the potential impact events like this can have on a community.”
If the proposal is approved by the city, it would add between 26 to 40 full-time and seasonal jobs, and host 45 home games from late May to early September starting next year. Games would begin after 6:30 p.m. so they would not interfere with other activities in the park, and the company intends to hire local residents.
Centerfield Partners would also maintain and make improvements to Albert Field, including refurbishing locker rooms, cleaning the grandstand facade, adding 700 seats to the stadium, adding bathrooms and making room for local food vendors at games.
“So many people have great memories of Albert Field, like remembering when they scraped their hip on second base,” Clark said. With these new improvements, Clark hopes to make Albert Field a well-known sports destination that draws people from all over Marin County and the Bay Area to San Rafael.
With home games attracting larger crowds to downtown, neighbors from Gerstle Park are worried about traffic congestion and parking in the area.
Clark estimates the games would bring in a maximum of 400 additional cars. Centerfield Partners have made arrangements to use the San Rafael Corporate Center parking lots across from Albert Field, which have 700 available spaces. The company also plans to charge around $5 for parking to offset the cost of traffic attendants and signs that would direct cars from the freeway to the parking structure.
“It’s important to keep parking costs as low as possible,” said Steve Patterson, chair of the Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods and a Gerstle Park resident. “Otherwise they’re going to push tons of cars out in to the neighborhoods [to avoid paying].”
Clark said they would keep the parking issues in mind in further planning, but that running Albert Field “is a business, and [they] don’t want to come here and then fail the community” because they can’t cover expenses.
Sharlene Moss, a representative from the West End neighborhood, remembers having fun at Albert Field when she watched the Seals play baseball. A new San Rafael team would be a wonderful addition to the community, she said.
Centerfield Partners will present the proposal to the city on April 28. Clark and his associates plan to continue dialogue with community members to get feedback on the project as it goes forward.
One of the first things he will ask locals is what they should name the new team.