UPDATED: Elk Grove Unveils Plans For Multi-Million Dollar Facility at Weekend Workshop

July 13, 2015 | SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF THIS POST Before a standing-room-only crowd on Saturday morning, the City of Elk Grove ...

July 13, 2015 |


Before a standing-room-only crowd on Saturday morning, the City of Elk Grove unveiled a concept site plan for their proposed soccer complex.

The public workshop was attended by over a hundred people in the city council chambers at Elk Grove City Hall to hear what the city plans are for the 99-acre site that lies outside current city limits. The land was purchased for an above market price of $4.3 million in September, 2014 with money siphoned from the city's drainage fund as the city pursued a $100-million professional soccer stadium in hopes landing a Major League Soccer expansion franchise.

Subsequent to that, MLS chose Minneapolis over Sacramento (or Elk Grove) for expansion and further indicated if they were to locate a franchise in this region, they are more interested in Sacramento's railyard development. 

At Saturday's workshop a throng of parents and their soccer-uniformed children listened intently to city staff lay out plans for the facility which is expected to be build in phases. The first phase will use approximately 70-acres and include 12 lighted regulation-sized pitches, 4 lighted junior ones, nine warm-up fields, all of which would be on natural turf, parking facilities and a community-support building which includes a concession area, classrooms for clinics, locker rooms, a strength and conditioning facility, and a second story restaurant. According to staff the project will be the premier youth soccer facility in the country which will draw teams from throughout the nation to our city for clinics and tournaments.

A second phase would include the aforementioned professional soccer stadium/amphitheater located on the southern 30-acres sharing that parcel with a proposed UC Davis Bio-Tech facility. Details of that project were not discussed.

While the audience was overwhelmingly in support of the proposed facility, the city staff led by Public Works Director Richard Shepard were unable to answer some pointed questions about the facility. Shepard did not specify how the city intends to finance the construction or on-going facility operating maintenance costs, not to mention the costs of actual field use by local clubs once this state-of-the-art-facility is ready for use. 

In the past the city council has indicated financing alternatives available to them include a public-private partnership or the issuance of revenue bonds. Under California law, governmental entities can issue revenue bonds without voter consent.

Also, if revenues fall short of expectations, the general fund must make up the shortfall. So while the enthusiastic crowd liked what they heard, no one yet knows what this plan will cost them.

Although revenue bonds are relatively easy to issue since they do not require voter approval, they do carry other risk. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, "governments typically pay higher rates when they borrow through revenue bonds rather than general obligation bonds."

According to city staff, ground breaking on the facility is expected for early 2017. 

UPDATE: Prior to this story being posted, a reader send EGN a link to the video posted below from HBO's "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver." The commentary by the always-on-the-mark Oliver was about none other that subsidies on public funding of stadiums. 


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Steve L said...

I raised my family here and participated in seven years of youth softball and 13 years of soccer here in Elk Grove and surrounding clubs. I care deeply about having wonderful facilities and coaching for our children. I applaud the city for trying to reach for the stars and bring our kids the best facility that money can buy.

However, I don't agree that EVERYONE in the community should have to pay their fair share to build and maintain such a facility. Older generations, and there are a lot of them, more everyday as the baby-boomers give way to the millinials, shouldn't have to be taxed for programs that they will not and cannot use. It simply isn't fair. Older generations are having a tough enough time just trying to make ends meet as it is.

Funding for this $115 million facility must be born by the users and private funding.

Interestingly, no one at Saturday's meeting discussed what the likely "user fees" would be for access to these "world class" fields. They want to sell you a Rolls Royce, but won't tell you what the monthly payment will be. Yeah, you want the Rolls, it's a great car. You deserve it. But, can you afford it?

I recall paying a $250 a season participation fee for each soccer season for one child. On top of that there were uniform costs, roughly $125.00 if I recall, and tournament fees, another $300 or so. That was as of several years ago, so I'm sure these numbers are relatively conservative. You can multiply the costs by the number of children each family has participating.

Now, if you want to play on the "world class" fields, what will the additional costs be? Perhaps $20 per player, per event?

Are EG parents willing to pay that to access these fields or will they instead go back to the CSD standbys that have weathered the overuse and drought, but at reasonable costs?

Parents must realize, they will not be able or perhaps willing to pay for regular use of these fields. Perhaps this is why no other municipality has taken the initiative to build this project before now. It is simply too much, just like the Olympics quality swim and dive center our council wants to build here.

Want to see how this can be done. Look at the Frisco, TX youth soccer facility. It's a wonderful, world-class facility. Realize however, they are largely financed by the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, billionaire Jerry Jones. I don't believe that EG has such a generous benefactor.

Building such a facility may well lead this town into bankruptcy when those repayment of the revenue bonds come due and we don't have the money to repay the loan. Hell, we borrowed $4.3 million from the drainage fund just to buy the property in question. We didn't have the reserves in the general fund to even buy the vacant property. How are we going to pay to build and maintain this incredible facility?

Short answer: We can't.

Clayton Williams said...

Steve L.,

I need to remind you what I told Ann Richards when I ran against her for Governor of Texas in 1990. On the discussion of sexual assault, using the words of John Riggins here who told former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor “come on, loosen up, Sandy baby, you’re too tight,” I told that old silver haired air bag that rape was bad weather; "If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it."

The Amazing Kreskin said...

When government runs short on money, they go to the taxpayers and plead for a tax increase. Package it up in such a way that the people think the city will crumble (as in asphalt streets), throw in a few bike trails and sprinkle in a sports field--and voila, they got themselves some more play money!

Connie said...

I don’t know about Clayton Williams’ comment. I had to have that one explained to me.

What I see here with the aquatics center, animal shelter, Senior Center, Veterans’ Hall, and now the youth sports complex, is spend, spend, spend.

Elk Grove went from boom to bust and now it appears it is boom again with the new housing developments up for approval in the SEPA. But we haven’t learned from the last boom. The city had tens of millions in reserves, and so the Council, circa 2006, decided to form our own police department and transit system. The Council burned through our city’s reserves. The usual suspects at the time spoke up and said, “Police force, Yes.” Transit system, “No.” One of the reasons: We need to save some of the reserves for rainy days and the future.

Now with the new boom, spending appears to be on the horizon and some of our elected leaders are looking to transform our bedroom community into a destination city. The Council is setting itself up to approve large projects to raise Elk Grove’s profile. I get it city leaders want to make our city more appealing to new home buyers. [We have been told that HHC will move full force with the mall if new homes are in close proximity to support it.}

The thought of revenue bonds makes me cringe and cities like Stockton and Vallejo didn’t go bankrupt over night; both were slow moving train wrecks. None of us want that for our city, however some of us see it as a possibly with all these grandiose projects and no money to fund them.

I would like nothing more than for our city to have a “world class” youth sports complex. However, with all of these other projects looming out there in the “feasibility” stages, it is very scary.

Anonymous said...

Sports fields are one thing, but the idea that they will bring in revenue to the city is bogus. Add in the idea that a stadium might be part of the long range plan, and we are in deep doo-doo.

Those kinds of promises and pie-in-the-sky projections are just massive PR.

Don't fall for any of that.

Support the kids, but don't make all of us pay.
User fees should be a real part of the conversation.

On the subject of publicly financed sports venues, stadiums and the like, be sure to watch John Oliver on the subject:


Anonymous said...

Well that didn't take long...3 days ago they were in the dark when asked about financing and now it will be presented next month at the City Council meeting. Has anyone seen the firmed up plans, what sports will be included and are the community meetings now over? Are we continuing before it's even in the city limits of Elk Grove? This gets crazier every day.......


Willie Mays said...

A sports complex? Lets just call it what it really is, a soccer complex. Whatever happened to building a few diamonds for America's favorite pastime?

P.T. Barnum said...

ELK GROVE IS AN EASY MARK. PERIOD. All because the politicians want to put Elk Grove "on the map". Don't worry, we are already on the map--in every board room of every major homebuilder, ice rink operator, and huckster in the region.

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove is a big joke prime for the pickings.

Anonymous said...

"a second story restaurant?" That's amazing...NO hotel too? That way they wouldn't even have to drive in to the city to spend their dollars...just ship all of it to the big chains. Who in their right mind would open a restaurant in a soccer complex anyway? Perhaps a stand selling hot dogs, drinks, chips, etc. could work. In most of the tournaments I have attended the parents took their food and drinks in ice chests, chairs & canopies and when you had a follow-up game you sure didn't load it all back in your car to go to the city for some shopping.

What I find in these meetings is that the focus is only on the sports fields and not on all the extras that are thrown in and that are very costly to operate & keep up. Remember this is out in the boonies and security would be necessary with all the extras too. We need to come back down to earth and build these kids some sports fields with the extras that are necessary and leave the big stuff to someone that has bigger pockets than we do. Don't mortgage our hard working taxpayers with all the fluff!

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