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San Rafael ballpark proposal scaled back to 800-seat facility

North American LeagueWe’re totally mystified by this: a proposed lease for San Rafael‘s Albert Field calls for an 800-seat facility with free parking and temporary concessions for a independent North American League team. Where are the profits?

The proposal, presented last night to the San Rafael City Council by Centerfield Partners, calls for minimal changes to the existing 700-seat grandstand and adds only 100 or so more seats to the mix for a maximum capacity of 800. Permanent concessions were scrapped in favor of temporary ones. A proposed three-year lease was scaled back to a single year. The only permanent changes to the community rec facility: new netting behind home plate and a cleanup of the field.

The changes were prompted by neighborhood opposition to any pro ball at Albert Field; residents had hired a lawyer and demanded an environmental-impact study as part of the process, which would cost approximatelly $75,000. By scaling back proposed changes to the park and adopting other strategies, like promising to stop playing game music at 9 p.m., Centerfield Partners is obviously working to curry favor with neighbors — but at what cost?

Centerfield Partners claims it can make money charging between $10 and $20 for tickets, but even assuming every ticket will be sold for every game (no comps! no freebies!), it’s hard to see how an NAL team could turn a profit of $30,000, as Centerfield Partners told San Rafael officials, paying for travel to distant locales like Maui, Alberta and Yuma. True, a yearly rent of $5,000 would go a long ways toward turning a profit. But we know the nut for a NAL is well above 800 paid fans a game based on conversations with league GMs.

The City Council will be discussing the proposal at its Sept. 19 meeting.

RELATED STORIES: San Rafael delays decision on NAL ballpark, as citizens class over merits; San Rafael debates NAL ballpark at Albert Field


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