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Proposed Santa Maria pro team raises hackles of youth-baseball advocates

Pacific AssociationA proposed upgrade of Santa Maria’s Elks Field for an independent Pacific Association team has raised opposition from youth-baseball organizers, who don’t want to lose any spots in an already crowded schedule.

Baseball fields are at a premium in Santa Maria, both for its own residents and those of neighboring Santa Barbara, which contracts with the city for playing time. But with high-school, Babe Ruth and other teams using the ballpark, there are worries from residents that there won’t be enough openings for all — and potential fees hikes if they are. From the Santa Maria Times:

A myriad teams rely on Elks Field. Aside from Babe Ruth and the Reds, it is also used by Santa Maria High School, St. Joseph High School, Orcutt Academy, Righetti and clubs like Cal Poly and the Wahoos.

Santa Maria Professional Baseball LLC revealed recently it is eyeing Elks Field for a non-affiliated minor league team. The players haven’t been selected yet; investors want to find a field first. The group hopes to be playing ball by 2014.

Having been given an informal nod from the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission during a meeting Tuesday, the group is moving forward. One of its first steps will be to set up an advisory committee of locals to sort out community issues — like the potential scheduling conflicts that worry Newby and Peña.

The proposition, as it stands now, is fairly minimal: the team owners are proposing a revenue split instead of a set rent, but the team would be responsible for any ballpark upgrades. Right now Elks Field is a minimal facility, seating 750 and perhaps capable of holding 1,000.

RELATED STORIES: Pacific Association pitches team for Santa Maria’s Elks Field


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