The $5.3 million facelift planned to start later this year on the north field at the Belmont Sport Complex — the installation of an artificial turf field striped accommodate both soccer and lacrosse, along with general facility upgrades — will be a big benefit to the Belmont sports community going forward.
But it is not without short-term drawbacks. The best-case scenario is the project is done on time, which begins in November with a scheduled May completion. But officials have already admitted that, because of financial reasons, construction will go longer.
Any kind of delays dig into the Bel-Mateo Babe Ruth Baseball season. Unlike the Belmont-Redwood Shores AYSO, which has access to 10 fields around the community, including the sports complex, there is only one baseball field on which Bel-Mateo can play.
Bel-Mateo Babe Ruth consists of players from Belmont and San Mateo, with nine teams and roughly 150 players in the league. While schedule makers have a little leeway, there is not much time between when construction could conceivably end and the start of the regular season.
“We can bypass what is called preseason,” said Steve Vega, Bel-Mateo Babe Ruth Baseball president. “But the regular season must start the second week of May.”
Construction delays would also affect the organization’s ability to host postseason all-star tournaments as well. Bel-Mateo and the Belmont Sports Complex have become the de facto hosts for the Northern California tournament and it will host it for the fourth year in a row beginning July 6.
“We’re kind of the go-to (facility) for [the Nor Cal state tournament],” Vega said. “The likelihood of (being affected by construction) is pretty good.”
The Babe Ruth all-star season is already underway with District 6 tournaments being played. The U15 all-stars are playing at Baylands Park in Palo Alto this week, while Bel-Mateo is hosting the U14 tournament beginning this weekend.
But as this summer season is wrapping up, attention has already turned to the 2020 campaign. Belmont city officials have reached out to other local districts, but Belmont Parks and Recreation Director Brigitte Shearer said her group has not been successful in securing a site.
“We have reached out to other Park and Rec agencies in neighboring cities and we have not had any luck yet,” Shearer told Daily Journal reporter Zachary Clark. “We’re hoping Babe Ruth may have some other connections and a network where they may be able to help us out. … It’s going to take a village for us to get this solved.”
Vega and his team have been doing their due diligence in trying to remedy the situation. He said he has already reached out to his baseball contacts and has gotten a good response. He said it appears the organization has a line on a field, but nothing has been formalized.
“We’ll have to work with the city to find another site. Right now, that’s up in the air,” Vega said. “There are going to be some high field fees … and we will not be able to do that (financially). We don’t have the budget for that.”
Vega is confident, however, that the city will do everything in its power to help alleviate the field crunch.
“Through the meetings of this entire project … they have given us assurances there will be a place for our athletes (to play),” Vega said.