Water sports complex is a possibility for Fresno's Granite Park

FRESNO, California

The first thing the city would have to do is tear down the replica baseball parks now on the site and then, dig a big hole and fill it with water.

After that the developers would build a wake board park and some small soccer fields on the site. They say once built, the crowds will come.

Wakeboarding is a popular activity usually done behind a ski boat. But there won't be any boats on the man-made lake. Boarders will be pulled around by a motorized cable mounted on a tower.

Scott Towsley, the man who wants to build it says it will attract those who wakeboard on area lakes, but is mostly aimed at those who haven't tried it.

Towsley explained, "Our market is the new people that have never had an opportunity to wakeboard."

In addition to the main lake, there will be training ponds. Next to all that will be a series of small soccer fields , known as wall soccer, it's billed as a fast paced, small team alternative to soccer.

Fields would be rented out to teams and leagues. Michael Noble, who's been involved in building athletic facilities around the region, believes this will really catch on.

"Fundamentally it's a proven business model and this opportunity here at Granite Park, with Scott's cable wake park we think we bring something very, very, exciting to the city."

But, Granite Park was home to fields of dreams before. A development with ball parks and soccer fields and nightclubs fell apart, leaving the city of Fresno with $6 million in debt.

City Council member Larry Westerlund says this idea is different.

"They are going to put in their own private dollars," Westerlund said. "The city is not going to put up any general fund dollars, we are not subsidizing the lease and I'm excited about that."

The city would use about $400 thousand from the Public Works Department to dig ten acres of lakes and ponds for the wakeboarding site.

Westerlund says its money the department would spend for ponding basins anyway, and the wakeboarding pond would be part of the system used to recharge the underground water supply.

The developers would pay the city about $200 thousand a year to lease the place. Helping the city offset the $400 thousand a year the city has to pay for the debt on the property. Westerlund thinks it's a good deal.

Westerlund explained, "The risk to the city is we would end up getting that amenity turned back over to the city on city property."

But the city will also spend at least $100 thousand demolishing the baseball stadiums, another amenity the city got back.

The Fresno City Council will see a presentation on the new proposal for Granite Park at Thursday's meeting.

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