Eight famous baseball stadiums are rising from the dirt at the northwest corner of Power and Elliot roads in Gilbert.
Smaller-scale replicas of Yankee Stadium, Chase Field and Wrigley Field, among others, have begun to take the shape at Big League Dreams Sports Park, a recreational ballpark that town officials expect to become a popular attraction for residents but also draw regional league tournaments.
“It’s just like you would have in a spring training facility,” said Curtis McFarland, construction project manager for M.A. Mortenson. “It’s a professionalgrade field.”
McFarland joined Chris Kartchner, project manager for Kitchell CEM and a town consultant overseeing the project, in a tour surveying the facility earlier this week. Already, the outfield structures are complete, forming the shapes of the fields, and stadium seating to accommodate 180 at each field is under way.
“This is for anyone who plays on a softball team,” Kartchner said of the facility, which Gilbert is constructing for $33.5 million. It will be operated by Big League Dreams Consulting, which has six complexes open in other states, two more under construction and at least four more in the planning stages.
“People at some of the parks in southern California are driving 50 to 60 miles to play softball,” Kartchner said. “You’re playing in a great park. Most town recreational parks, they may be nice, but you’re playing up against a chain-link fence, bring-your-own-chair facilities.”
The 65-acre park is expected to open in November. It will have eight stadiums in the shape of a four-leaf clover, including Anaheim’s Angel Stadium; the Boston Red Sox Fenway Park; the Polo Grounds that were home of the New York Giants before they moved to San Francisco; Ebbets Field, which is the old home of the Brooklyn Dodgers; and Sportsman’s Park, which is the former home of the St. Louis Cardinals. An indoor soccer field and batting cages will be at the center of the facility.
Each field includes details seen in the real stadiums, including homes outside of Wrigley Field, the large artificial rock in the shape of an A in the outfield of Angel Stadium, a smaller version of the 37-foot left field wall at Fenway Park known as the Green Monster, and backboards with lifelike graphics of fans in the stands. The outfield stretches more than 300 feet at each stadium. There are two stadium clubs where guests can eat and watch games.
Grass is anticipated to be seeded at the park next week.
The park is anticipated to bring in $4 million in gross annual revenue.
A revenue-sharing agreement with the town, which takes effect three or four years after its opening, calls for the town receiving 6 percent of gross receipts up to $3 million of revenue, 7 percent up to $4.5 million and 8 percent for any larger total revenue.
The economic impact of a six-field Big League Dream park in the Houston area is as much as $27 million, said Don Webber, the company’s vice president of development.
“It’s going to be drawing families, boys and girls, men and women, who will be playing sports there,” he said. “Tournament promoters from all over the country are constantly waiting for the next Big League Dreams.”
By the second or third year of operation, the park should attract more than 400,000 annual guests, Webber said. He said Big League Dreams is already getting calls from interested sports leagues, from Gilbert, the Valley and outside the region.
Gilbert Town Councilman Steve Urie said he is disappointed the park is not opening in July as originally planned. But he said that once hotels begin to open in the area, the town could reap some profits from hosting the attraction. To do that, Urie said, he would support the town approving a new tourism or hotel tax.
“Guests will be staying in Mesa, because the only place we’ve got a hotel is 10 miles away,” Urie said. “I hope it performs as expected or promised.”