Big League Dreams past one year mark
The Big League Dreams Park in Gilbert has received plenty of exposure since opening in January of 2008. Critics cite the $40 million cost, originally estimated at $26 million, and deteriorating field conditions since opening day. Town officials defend the public/private partnership as a way to attract outside revenue and an alternative to traditional subsidized recreational activities. Add in the sometimes bumpy relationship with Big League Dreams that operates the park and there is no doubt the first year of operation has been more eventful than anyone expected.
Replicas of famous baseball stadiums
There are eight scaled down versions of real ballparks, past and present; including Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field, Angel Stadium, Sportman’s Park, and to appease the local crowd, Chase Field. Each ballpark has seating for 190 spectators. There are two clubhouses that provide food and beverages. Once you see the prices for the soda pop, you’ll make a quick note to fill up the cooler the next visit. Continuing the baseball focus, the park also has installed batting cages. I was very impressed with the 26,000 sq.ft. indoor soccer complex, and the intense co-ed soccer game that was in progess. At least the artificial turf in the soccer facility won’t become an issue! After reading the complaints about the condition of the lawn I went back and reviewed the pictures I took and while it does not look as good as opening day, it appears that improvement has been made.
The Friday night I visited the park, it was busy with slow pitch baseball games in most of the parks. The indoor soccer facility was busy as well as the batting cages. The parking lot was full so in spite of the on-going controversy, it appears that someone is enjoying the facility and the kinks are being worked out.
Whether the $40 million investment was a wise one will become more evident in the coming years when Gilbert starts receiving 6% of the revenue starting in 2011. Until then, expect the continuing debate from both sides. But regardless of what you read, make sure and visit the 60 acre Big League Dreams in Gilbert near Power Rd. and Elliot and come to your own conclusion. It is impressive and worth the visit, and your tax dollars paid for it!
Satellite view of Gilbert Big League Dreams (The map may not be up to date since the park opened in Jan. 2008)