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Escondido Considers $50 million Minor League Ballpark

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The North County city of Escondido is on the verge of taking one of the biggest gambles in its history. The city council will soon decide whether to spend $50 million to build a new Minor League ballpark.

The North County City of Escondido is on the verge of taking one of the biggest gambles in its history. The City council will soon decide whether to spend $50 million to build a new Minor League ballpark.

Escondido didn’t make the cut as a site for a new Chargers stadium, but the city is now poised to jump into a different sports deal, one that would build a ballpark for a Triple A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

Padres owner Jeff Moorad has bought the Portland Beavers and needs a long term home for the team.

Erik Judson is with JMI Sports, the group that’s proposing the Escondido site. He told the Escondido city council the ballpark would appeal to young families and create a synergy with the Padres.

“Many Padre fans who are going to Petco Park will come up here on off days,” Judd said. “I’m quite sure of it.”

Consultant Gary London presented the city council with a market study this week. He says the project could stimulate development of 3,000 new housing units, hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail and commercial space, and more than 3,000 jobs.

“Historically, Escondido has never seen these kinds of numbers.” London said. “But you have an opportunity, I think, coming out of this recession, to become a much larger regional player in the commercial office market at this site.”

The council is scheduled to vote on the ballpark plan Nov 30.

But next week, the mayor and two city council seats are up for election, and the results could affect support for the project. Jason Everitt is one candidate who thinks it’s too soon to jump into what he says is one of the biggest decisions the council has ever made.

“I know what an economic viability study looks like and that was not it,” Everitt said, “That was a sugar coated sales job. And the city needs real numbers.”

Everitt says one council hearing on the issue is not enough. He says more public input is needed, and the decision should not be taken before whoever wins the election takes office next year.

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