A fix for Big League Dreams' poor field conditions will cost Gilbert taxpayers several thousand dollars as the town and ballpark work out an agreement to improve the situation before losing business.
The fields at Big League Dreams, near Elliot and Power roads, have gotten progressively worse since it opened in January. The ballpark's staff receives several complaints every day, and some teams, leagues and tournaments have threatened to go elsewhere.
The complaints center on the grass and infield dirt, with players and coaches saying it's like playing in the desert.
On many fields, large patches of grass are burnt out, dead or missing. The infield also receives a lot criticism about the dirt being too soft and sandy, leading to slippery conditions and uneven surfaces.
Gilbert paid $40 million to build Big League Dreams, which features eight ballfields replicating classic stadiums like Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. It was pitched as a facility that would bring in big events and money for the town, which will share profits with the park in coming years.
Original figures from Big League Dreams estimated it could cost more than $100,000 to redo the grass and infield, adding to the $18 million worth of increases already tacked on to the original project estimates of $22 million.
But the actual cost to the town will be lower.
Gilbert leaders and Big League Dreams have worked out an agreement that will have the town cover the expense for the infields. The ballpark will pay for the grass.
A final price for the town to fix the infields hasn't been determined yet. But it cost more than $9,000 to redo a single field, Town Manager George Pettit said.
The new dirt was installed on that field last week. Big League Dreams board member Ron Odekirk said it's held up well over the long weekend and will be installed on the remaining seven fields.
The town, contractors and ballpark representatives are still working out a final price.
But the agreement about who is responsible for the costs comes months after Big League Dreams and the town began discussing problems with the fields.
During that time, each side blamed the other.
Odekirk said the contractor hired by the town improperly installed the grass and dirt. Town leaders questioned whether the fields were properly maintained.
The Gilbert property is one of nine around the country owned by Big League Dreams, based in Chino Hills, Calif.