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Sacramento considering selling ballfields to CSUS

Sacramento

The Sacramento City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to sell an 11-acre parcel of baseball fields near Sacramento State to the university’s nonprofit affiliate for $2.27 million.

The school intends to build student housing and accompanying retail, said university spokesman Phil Garcia.

University Enterprises will pay for the land in installments over 10 years, with interest, according to city documents.

New student housing has been an integral part of President Alexander Gonzalez’s Destination 2010 plan, designed to transform Sacramento State’s image from that of a commuter college to a more residential campus.

“There is a growing demand for on-campus student housing,” Garcia said. Student housing at California State University, Sacramento, was completely full last school year, and signed leases for next school year are running ahead of the number signed by this time last year, he said.

University Enterprises also leased off-campus lofts in 2007 at 65th Street and Folsom Boulevard. Then, in 2009, the school built the American River Courtyard for upper-division and transfer students. American River Courtyard and the six existing residence halls are part of the North Housing Village. The village is home to 1,700 of the school’s 27,700 students, according to campus officials.

The university’s recently approved master plan calls for eight new housing complexes. This new project is not a part of the master plan and must still be approved by California State University trustees, Garcia said.

The future dorm site, on the southeast corner of State University and College Town drives, is home to the Dan McAuliffe Memorial Ballparks. The city leases the property to the Sacramento Babe Ruth and Sacramento Men’s Senior Baseball leagues. Their lease expires in December.

The playing fields will be relocated to city property at Army Depot Park, at Florin Perkins Road and Okinawa Street. The university will pay an estimated $5.2 million to build two lighted adult baseball diamonds meeting standards for Triple A ball, along with a batting cage, scoreboard, fencing, a concession, a picnic area, a parking lot and a restroom building.

The new student housing won’t be built for at least four years, said university officials. In the meantime, the university will continue to sublease the ballfields to the leagues for $150 a year.

Concerns about the plan have been worked through, said Chris Knudsen, president of the Babe Ruth League, which serves youths age 13 to 18. “I think it will work out well for the leagues,” he said.

The Babe Ruth League spent millions of dollars over the 20 years it has leased the property. “The two baseball fields are the nicest in the city,” Knudsen said. “There is a snack bar and a meeting room and real bathroom and nice dugouts.”

Alan Van Ness, president of the Sacramento Men’s Senior Baseball League, has mixed emotions about the move. He is afraid that outside leagues that pay to use the field for tournaments won’t want to play at Army Depot East Park, which he says is in a high-crime area and is farther from the freeway. The money generated by tournaments is used for park improvements and to pay utility bills.

He also is worried about displacing teams that are already playing at the park.

“I love the city’s gift; I just wish it had a little better logistics,” Van Ness said.

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