With the 2007 summer baseball season in the bag, local teams the Blues, the Rattlers, and the Men's Senior Baseball League are preparing for another skirmish over use of the prized Sinsheimer Stadium next season. And at least one of the city's options would award only one of the two semipro teams exclusive use of the field.
The three groups were represented at the San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department's Joint Use Committee's Aug. 28 meeting, which resurrected several issues that popped up while planning for the 2007 season namely the scheduling dilemma that left two semi-pro teams scrambling to nail down a schedule just three months from opening day.
Although several potential solutions were discussed at the recent meeting, the committee moved to discuss the issue further at its next meeting after an hour and a half of talks.
Negotiations for the 2007 season grew complicated when the Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the Sinsheimer property, realized that the venue was overbooked a technicality, according to a staff report, based on a finding that while time slots were open, no adult or professional team could reasonably play ball at noon on Wednesday. Negotiations turned to mediation after several months, and, in the end, both the Rattlers and the men's senior league had to play several games on borrowed turf.
Based on the successes and failures of last year, the committee released a 13-page staff report for this go-round, outlining possible solutions to the same problems: The two semi-pro teams could submit an RFP (Request for Proposal) detailing a plan to manage the facility and their conduct with city staff. This course could put both teams back on the same field. The Blues and Rattlers could also set aside past hurts to work with the city on a compromise. And a final option would have the city accepting an RFP from only one team, effectively shutting out the other. These options basically leave Dan Ainsworth and his men's senior league somewhat out of the park.
Ainsworth rose during the public comment period to address his concerns with the report, mainly that his team's season at Sinsheimer had been cut in half.
Several people from the Blues camp protested that a great community asset would be lost if the franchise didn't return for an '08 season. The committee responded several times by saying all three teams Blues, Rattlers, and the men's senior league were valued and wanted at Sinsheimer.
One committee member questioned the ultimate purpose of a Request for Proposal, after which the group decided to continue the discussion at a later time. The Joint Use Committee's next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 25. Once the committee makes a decision, the City Council will have the final word.