Big League Dreams Hires Engineers To Assess Closed Gilbert Park
Big League Dreams, the manager of a Gilbert sports complex that shares its name, says it’s working with the town to get the park re-opened.
The town closed the park earlier this month to address what it called “significant safety concerns.” Repairs were expected to be complete by 2019, and the park would be closed until then. Big League Dreams has a 30-year lease to operate the park, though it's owned by the town of Gilbert.
“Everything that we treasure in our business and our reputation right now is being damaged, and we need to get it corrected so we can try to move on and get our parks back open,” said John Giambi, one of Big League Dreams owners. His brother is former Major League first baseman Jason Giambi.
Giambi said he met with Gilbert staff on court orders on Monday. Gilbert staff confirmed the meeting.
Big League Dreams has hired engineers on its own dime to re-evaluate the park’s structures and safety. Giambi estimated the company will submit a plan to the town of Gilbert by week’s end to do so.
In the meantime, 87 empoyees, park vendors and scheduled sporting events from soccer to baseball and softball are on hold.
Gilbert staff issued a statement from Robert Grasso, an attorney representing the town, in response to KJZZ's request for comment.
"Elliot District Park is a valued amenity in Gilbert, and it is unfortunate that the town was forced to close the park because of significant safety concerns. Specifically, a recent inspection of the facility revealed safety concerns related to the structural integrity of the outfield grandstands, and the grandstands were found to be dangerous and unsafe. The town sought a second opinion from another outside engineer, and the same safety concerns were confirmed. The town notified Big League Dreams-Gilbert (BLD-Gilbert) about these safety issues in May and asked BLD-Gilbert to address them in a timely manner. Unfortunately, BLD-Gilbert failed to do so and, because of the monsoon season, the town was forced to take immediate action to protect the public.
"BLD-Gilbert has known for more than a year that the town planned to close the park this summer/this fall for necessary repairs. Since that notice, the town has considered other options, including a partial closure to conduct repairs in phases. Unfortunately, the phased approach is prohibitively expensive and still presents an unacceptable safety risk to the public.
"The town regrets any inconvenience that this may cause park users; however, the safety of town residents and visitors is the town’s main priority. The town is making every effort to accommodate park users’ needs to fullest extent and to reopen the Park as quickly as possible."