The softball fields at Fresno’s controversial Granite Park, now temporarily renamed the Cedar Sports Complex, are tidy, green and ready for action.
On Saturday, the city and developers Terance Frazier and TJ Cox, who pitched a plan in 2015 to revive the 20-acre sports park in east-central Fresno, will hold a grand opening to celebrate the newly renovated fields – phase one of the park revitalization project.
Friendly games between local public safety agencies, a team from the city and others are scheduled that day. Then in the following weeks, softball leagues will start to play in the evenings and in weekend tournaments. Friday nights will be kept open for community events. The calendar is almost full for about nine weeks.
“I’m pretty excited about this project,” Frazier said. “It’s been a tough road, but I’m in the seventh, eighth inning.”
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I’m pretty excited about this project. It’s been a tough road, but I’m in the seventh, eighth inning.
Terance Frazier, developer
The park, on Cedar Avenue about a mile south of Fresno State, has a long history. The city co-signed a $5 million bank loan more than a decade ago to help the original developer build a regional destination for sports, restaurants and shops. But the developer went belly up, and the city got stuck with the property and the bill.
Other developers have come and gone over the years with ideas to revive or transform the park, but none caught the city’s attention until Frazier, representing the nonprofit Central Valley Community Sports Foundation, and Cox came along.
The pair’s $2.7 million plan starts with the renovation of the three ball fields on the property. The second phase includes a two-story restaurant, a basketball and volleyball facility and a fourth full-sized professional field for older players with press box and covered stadium seats.
The city agreed to a 25-year lease and service agreement with the foundation. It will pay the foundation $150,000 a year for 10 years to help with programming, staffing and maintenance.
Renovations started about a year ago with underground utility work to replace missing or faulty electric wires, plumbing and more. There was a lot more damage in the park than expected, Frazier said.
This is probably the hardest project that I’ve ever been involved in.
“This is probably the hardest project that I’ve ever been involved in,” Frazier said.
Other challenges included securing a loan and working with the city to navigate what Frazier called a “maze” of issues like identifying the parcels on the property and pulling permits. But he was quick to add that the city was a helpful partner.
A $1.5 million loan from Clearinghouse Community Development Financial Institution helped the fields and concession stand start to take shape in recent weeks. Turf was installed in the infield to cut down on maintenance, and grass was put in the outfield, Frazier said. The hardest and most expensive part of running a sports facility is maintenance, he said.
The complex will be open to the public when not in use for sports leagues and events. Other plans include after-school programs and tutoring for children.
“I feel good about giving back to the people,” Frazier said. “I can already see people hanging out having a good time.”