Closure Of Gilbert's Big League Dreams Ballpark A Blow To East Valley Athletics
The town of Gilbert abruptly closed Elliot District Park, better known as Big League Dreams, last week.
The town cited safety concerns and pending repairs as the reason for the closure.
Soccer, softball and baseball leagues heavily use the fields. The complex gets its name from the baseball fields that are scaled down replicas of historic Big League parks.
“We have other parks too, so we won’t stop doing tournaments. It's just that they won’t be nearly as big. They’ll be 25 to 50 percent smaller than in the past,” said Eric Bell, who directs tournaments for baseball organization USSSA. He estimated about 600 youth teams use the fields on a rotating basis.
“I’ve had multiple emails and calls and texts just saying it’s really sad because it will really affect youth baseball," Bell said.
Big League Dreams which is owned by Gilbert, but operated by the eponymous private company, is located near the intersection of Power and Elliot roads, has been mired in controversy since it was built 10 years ago.
Gilbert alleged construction defects and eventually settled with the builder for more than $10 million. Gilbert officials said in a press release it plans to use settlement money to complete $11.6 million in repairs and reopen the complex in 2019.
The Arizona Republic reported the town settled with construction company M.A. Mortenson for $13.5 million.
Big League Dreams spokesman Chuck Jelloian said the company wanted repairs to be handled differently. He estimated the number of events affected by the closure is more than 100.
“What we’re hoping for is to be able to sit down with the city and try to redirect what’s going on here in Gilbert,” Jelloian said. “We’re trying very hard to make sure the kids can play and that it’s a safe environment.”