Is a Task Force the Best Way to Determine Whether We Need a New Sports Complex?

Does Davis need a public funded Sports Complex
Does Davis need a public-funded sports complex?

This summer when the city council was considering an infrastructure revenue measure, activists encouraged and abated by Davis Mayor Dan Wolk pushed for the council to include a new sports complex as part of the considerations.

The city council, understanding the political pressure on the one hand to include a sports complex in discussions, but on the other hand the peril of tying it to the revenue measure, quickly acted to separate the question and put a consideration of a Sports Complex Task Force on the calendar for an October discussion.

As staff notes, the city has studied a sports complex many times in the past. In 2004 and 2010, the city looked into potential locations for building a sports complex and a way also for the maintenance of such a complex to be funded through private parties.

In the past, three potential locations were identified: The Old City Landfill Site, a portion of the Howat Ranch Site and the Mace/Covell Site.

However, as staff notes, “With competing needs for funds, combined with the economic downturn, the project was put on hold.”

Those efforts have been reinvigorated in the last couple of months with both city staff and Mayor Wolk meeting “with groups who are interested in resurrecting the discussion of building a Sports Complex in Davis.”

According to the staff report, “During the two meetings representatives from various sports user groups indicated the desire and need for Davis to expand the existing usable field space, particularly for Little League, AYSO Soccer, Legacy Soccer during tournaments, Davis Youth Softball and Davis Lady Demons Softball.”

Proponents see “a Sports Complex as a way to not only ease the burden of scheduling, but also as a way to draw out-of-town teams to Davis for tournaments. Such tournaments can have significant positive economic impacts on a community, especially in the areas of hospitality and restaurant revenues.”

On the other hand, staff writes, “such complexes must also be carefully considered as to size, types of fields and amenities, construction and maintenance funding, management, and location so as to ensure that the facility is an asset, not a burden, to the community. Models of how to institute sports complexes are evolving and the ideas and options must be carefully considered, with input from a variety of different stakeholders.”

On July 7, the city council directed that any discussion of a Sports Complex would be better explored as a stand-alone effort, separate from the utility user tax that council is considering as an infrastructure funding mechanism.

Councilmember Rochelle Swanson made the motion that the city have a Davis sports park complex advisory committee or task force like the city has done in the past for other major infrastructure. She asked that it be brought back in the first meeting after the summer break.

“There’s a lot of concern about what the subject matter of the vote is,” Councilmember Swanson explained. “My fear is that we’re going to lose a lot of momentum whether it’s support for a tax which is what we need.”

The council was clear on the need to separate the issue of the sports facilities from the tax conversation.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis stated, “I think we have to divorce the conversation about a sports park from the UUT or any type of tax measure that we would eventually have.” He added, “In my opinion we need to look at the existing infrastructure backlogs that we have for roads, key city building, the fleet… and other key infrastructure needs.”

Robb Davis added, “We need to clear the decks on this, we need to move the conversation about sports parks which is not even a city council goal at this point, we need to move it aside, do our homework, look at all of the options for improving what people need – but we need to focus our attention on the fundamental backlogs that we have already identified…”

Lucas Frerichs said that he is agreement that we need to put core infrastructure – roads and parks, which in many cases are in disrepair – as a priority. However, “I also think that there is an ability for us to envision a future in this community that is grand and also is achievable. That includes building a sports park.”

The recommendation is for the creating of an 11-member task force made up of 3 members of the sports user groups, two parents or citizens at large, a representation from three differ commissions (Parks, Open Space, and Finance and Budget), two members from visitor attraction or independent user groups, and an ex-officio from the school district.

The purpose of the Sports Complex Task Force is to advise the city council on the following:

  • Define needs for sports complex (with no assumption that one single facility or a dispersed facility is necessarily the right approach).
  • Explore desirable locational characteristics of a facility or facilities.
  • Explore and identify potential candidate sites or general geographic areas of interest.
  • Explore and make recommendations on amounts and funding options/mechanisms for capital and maintenance.
  • Make recommendations to the City Council on next steps of implementation of recommendations (e.g. solicit proposals, additional analysis needed, etc.).

Staff calls this an “ad hoc and time limited effort.” They write, “The development of recommendations related to SCTF for consideration by the City Council will target a completion date of no later than April, 2016, unless extended by the City Council. It is anticipated that, to maintain momentum and complete the ascribed tasks, the Task Force will need to meet approximately every two weeks.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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3 Comments

  1. Anon

    activists encouraged and abated by Davis Mayor Dan Wolk

    Encouraged and ABETTED?

    Robb Davis added, “We need to clear the decks on this, we need to move the conversation about sports parks which is not even a city council goal at this point, we need to move it aside, do our homework, look at all of the options for improving what people need – but we need to focus our attention on the fundamental backlogs that we have already identified…

    This is a key point – a Sports Park was not a City Council goal, but road repair/maintenance is.

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