In all of our lives every once in a while an opportunity comes along that causes us to pause and say: "This is so great can it be real? Am I being taken for a fool? Is this a con? What do these people really want?"
Well, this happened to me about a month ago when John Fuller, a member of the Martinez School Board and the Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission asked me to speak to a gentleman by the name of Corey Busch about brining a professional baseball team to Martinez this summer. My initial reaction was skepticism, but I agreed to have Corey give me a call.
Corey called the next day and introduced himself, explained a little bit about his background (most notably the executive vice president of the San Francisco Giants for many years) and asked if I was available to meet the following Saturday with the owners of the proposed team, Pat Ertola and Rami Muth of the Martinez Unified School District, Tim Farley and John Fuller.
We met in a small conference room at City Hall where Corey and the owners laid out their proposal to bring professional baseball to Martinez.
The club is a member of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball which currently has clubs in San Rafael, Vallejo, Hawaii, Maui, with a new club just approved in Sonoma.
The Pacific Association has goals to locate 8 to 10 teams throughout the San Francisco Bay Area from the North Bay and down through the East Bay to San Jose.
The Martinez Club will be the Martinez Clippers and will wear pinstriped uniforms to honor Martinez' own Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio. The season will start in June and run through August and will consist of 82 games with approximately 41 games played at home.
The weekday games will start at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday games at 1 p.m. If there is a scheduling conflict on weekends, games could start at 6 p.m. Games will be held at field 2 at Waterfront Park, with the field at Alhambra High School along Alhambra Avenue used as a backup if Waterfront Park is busy with special events and amateur tournament play.
Because most games will be played in the evenings it will be necessary to bring in portable lights, designed to minimize impacts to surrounding residents and businesses.
Portable bleachers with seating capacity for 500-750 will be installed, and other improvements to the infield and fencing will be made, all financed by the club and their sponsors.
The Clippers will employ local youth in game day management such as ticket sales, ticket taking, ushering and game day events. And Marty O will continue to operate the ball field concession with an expanded menu.
The owners, Cris and Wayne Franklin and Tom Macari, presented an overview of their proposal to the Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission last week and there were many questions, some concern and a lot of excitement.
Unfortunately, an email was sent out "alerting" certain parties that their already scheduled use of the Waterfront Park ball fields was in peril. It was apparent that they came ready to stop any further progress of this great opportunity and claim that it was at the expense of children's athletics.
This proposal is exactly the opposite. The Clippers' proposal is to become part of the Martinez community and involve Martinez youth through team-run clinics and partnerships with Martinez schools and United Sports Academy.
No youth baseball or softball will be displaced from using fields at Waterfront Park. And the Clippers improved field will be available for use of others when they are on the road.
The Clippers' proposal to bring professional baseball to Martinez is not without challenges to be worked through. The logistics of parking, traffic, safety, scheduling, noise and impacts on neighbors all are being analyzed and solutions developed.'
The city staff is working with the owners and will be bringing a detailed plan to the PRMCC on March 18. Their recommendation will be sent to the City Council for final consideration. I am certain that these challenges can be worked out and professional baseball will be played in Martinez starting this summer.
This is a huge opportunity for our community with the potential to bring hundreds of people into our community and downtown everyday. The potential economic benefit to our businesses is enormous.
The teams in San Rafael and Vallejo have done just that for their communities. It is time that we step away from our knee-jerk reaction to say no to an opportunity as we have so many times before.
See you on opening day!
Rob Schroder is the mayor of Martinez. Email him at email@example.com.