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New Ontario ballpark pitched for city sports complex

MiLBWe could see a $95-million Low-A California League facility in 2026, as the City Council approved moving forward with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rancho Baseball for a new Ontario ballpark.

Rancho Baseball LLC is led by longtime MiLB operator Bobby Brett, who also owns the Spokane Indians (High-A; Northwest League) and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Low-A; California League). The plan is to keep the Quakes at LoanMart Field and acquire another Cal League team for the new Ontario ballpark–an interesting approach, as the two ballparks will be approximately 11 miles apart.

The new Ontario ballpark would be an anchor of the new Ontario Regional Sports Complex, a 200-acre facility that would also include restaurants and entertainment. All in all, the new complex would include 10 new soccer fields, two football fields, four baseball and four softball fields, four tennis courts, indoor basketball courts, four pickleball courts, a skate park, and an aquatics center. The complex will be located on the south side of East Riverside Drive, across from Whispering Lakes golf course, on property being acquired by the City.

In decided to move forward with the project, the City Council authorized the City Manager to execute a memorandum of understanding with Rancho Baseball to develop a lease agreement for the proposed stadium, which will come before the City Council for review and approval upon successful completion of negotiations and all legal requirements. The Council also authorized the City Manager to enter into an agreement with two companies to provide architectural, engineering and construction management services for the sports complex and ballpark. Also part of the City Council’s action: hiring Populous and regional firm Tilden-Coil Constructors for the architectural, engineering and construction management services for the sports complex and stadium. 

Here’s an initial version of the lease. The team will not manage the ballpark, as the city will oversee concessions (ASM Global is already involved) and control parking (with the team receiving 60 percent of the revenues), but the team will not need to contribute any upfront construction costs and will pay $400,000 in an annual lease, raising by $25,000 after five years, plus a $1 ticket tax up to 225,000 tickets sold annually. In addition, the city will pick up the utility costs (electric, water). As you’d expect, the new ballpark will be constructed to meet MiLB facility specs. Total capacity is planned at 6,000, with permanent seating between 4,000 and 4,500 plus group and premium seating, and berm seating for 500-1,500 fans. Rancho Baseball would be bound to a 20-year lease, with two five-year team options. The city raised its local sales tax earlier this year to fund projects like the sports complex, generating an additional $95 million annually.

In the meanwhile, Rancho Baseball is working with the city of Rancho Cucamonga on the upgrades needed for LoanMart Field to meet the MiLB facility specs by 2025.

“Along with the Grand Park being developed in the Ontario Ranch, the Ontario Regional Sports Complex is part of our commitment as a City Council to provide our residents and families with enhanced open space and recreational facilities. The Sports Complex and the stadium give us the opportunity to program so many more community events, and add to our current sports and entertainment portfolio,” said Mayor Paul S. Leon via press statement.

Ontario has become a Los Angeles-area sports destination. The Ontario Reign, owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, is the top farm team of the Los Angeles Kings and play at Toyota Arena, which is also home to the Ontario Clippers, the G-League affiliate of the Los Angeles Clippers.

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