CALEXICO: Sports complex needs Mexicali patrons

January 10, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Without Mexicali and its more than 1 million residents, a sports complex couldn't survive here, indicated members of the City Council on Tuesday.

The opinion came about after the council, seated as the city Redevelopment Agency, met Tuesday to discuss delays in the execution of an exclusive negotiating agreement with Escondido-based For The Game LLC for the possible construction of a multi-million dollar sports complex.

On Oct. 10, the RDA approved entering into a 90-day agreement with For The Game that included the private company funding a market feasibility study to see if such a complex would fly in Calexico.

When Calexico's consultant in redevelopment matters, Urban Futures of Orange County, suggested a study that did not include Mexicali, For The Game principals refused to sign and return the negotiating agreement before addressing its concerns with the City Council.


David R. Willis, general manager with For The Game, told the council, "We agreed to pay for the feasibility study, and we will. But the study presented to us didn't include Mexicali."

He said without factoring in the Baja California city, a sports complex would not work.

Willis said to a reporter after the council meeting that he thinks Urban Futures for whatever reason may not want to see such a project in Calexico.

"We're hesitant to work through somebody that gets the results they want," he said of Urban Futures.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see you can't carry $8 million in debt (the price of the proposed complex) without Mexicali residents," Willis said.

The council directed staff to go forward with For The Game and find another firm to conduct a market study that would include Mexicali.

RDA Executive Director Rich Inman appointed himself as the main go-between with For The Game. Willis said at the onset of Tuesday's meeting he was concerned because the city hadn't established such a "point-person" for the project.

While addressing the issue, discussion veered toward the problems with Urban Futures and the way in which it has conducted feasibility studies on a number of issues.

Several years ago when the city was attempting to get the Calexico 10 Theatres project going, a study by Urban Futures said such a venture would not survive. That study did not include Mexicali, and the theaters have stayed open and attracted customers.

Further, a similar situation arose last year when council members wanted to see a water park built in Calexico. However, after a study said it could not be sustained — a study that, again, didn't include Mexicali — the issue was dropped.

City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva said Urban Futures is being paid to consult with the agency to do things "in the best interest of the city," but he said the firm is doing more of a disservice to the community.

"It seems like our consultants are undermining this project," he said. "These are studies done by consultants who don't live here."

As for the sports complex, negotiations will continue for a facility Willis has said could include two indoor arenas for soccer and roller hockey, four softball fields, a batting cage, a child-care center, a restaurant and a police substation.

Staff Writer Richard Montenegro can be reached at 337-3453.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles