Granite Park revival endorsed by Fresno Mayor

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's been seven years since anybody played baseball on the fields at Fresno's Granite Park sports complex, but that could soon change. At a news conference on Thursday Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin proclaimed:

"Granite Park will live again."

Swearengin and some city council members are endorsing a deal to turn the decaying eyesore back into the regional sports and recreation complex it was originally planned to be. It's in council member Paul Carprioglio's district and he's behind the deal.

Carprioglio said, "Granite Park has new beginnings, and much like the Phoenix this area will be brought back to life."

Behind the enthusiasm is a complicated but carefully constructed deal that even Council Member Lee Brand, the toughest critic of past deal making mistakes, approves of.

"This is one of the best deals I can possibly imagine for the City of Fresno," Brand said.

Behind the plan is Fresno Developer Terrance Frazier and financier TJ Cox. Cox, heads an investment firm called Central Valley New Markets Tax Credit Fund.

Cox describes the deal as a good one for the city. "It's a proposal that one, is absolutely no risk to the city nor any contingent liability to the city."

Cox, and Frazier formed a nonprofit corporation, that will restore and operate the facility. Sports leagues will pay nominal fees to play here, some events will charge admission, and an onsite restaurant and advertising will help cover costs.

Frazier played baseball for Fresno State and the Oakland A's. He says reopening this park is an emotional decision for him. He recalled how baseball helped him survive a tough childhood in Oakland and sees this as a way to help kids in Fresno. With baseball and other sports and educational programs he already runs through the Central California Baseball Academy.

Frazier added, "A lot of us we never looked for a handout but we needed a hand and these kind of programs will give kids that need a hand, a hand. "

If the city council approves, contractor Bill Cummings says the work of restoring the fields and facilities could start soon.

Cummings said, "We are looking to begin construction toward the end of the year."

Cummings said the baseball fields, soccer fields, volleyball courts and other amenities could be in use by next spring.

The deal will have a minimal cost to the city. The city currently pays $104,000 a year just for security and maintenance of the 20 acre facility. The amount will rise to about $150,000 if the deal is approved by the City Council. The city is also expected to pipe in recycled water to keep the 14 acres of grass green.

The plan goes before the City Council on the 24th.

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