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Pacifics' 3-year Contract to Go Before Council

Now with new ownership, the minor league baseball team hopes to renew its contract for 2013 through 2015.

After their inaugural season, minor league baseball team the San Rafael Pacifics are back to extend their contract to play at Albert Field for the next three years.

The baseball team's new contract will go before the San Rafael City Council for approval tonight. The new terms extend the agreement for three years and features earlier game starts, new improvements to the field, a traffic plan to reduce jaywalking on Andersen Drive and the use of a new PA system that will reduce the amount of noise for neighbors.

"Last year we brought the community a summer of great memories and lots of fun without any of the problems some people thought would occur," the team's co-owner and general manager Mike Shapiro said.

The 2012 season ended with the Pacifics taking home the division title. Throughout the season, approximately 32,000 tickets were sold, and the arrangement netted the city a little over $10,000. The team's owners also repaired the bandstand and took care of other maintenance that had been deferred for years due to budget constraints.

If extended for three years, the city expects to net around $46,000 in revenue.

"The city will benefit from net revenue generated by [the team's] use of Albert Park stadium and baseball field. The community will benefit from improvements enjoyed by all users of the facility," the staff report stated.

The San Rafael Pacifics recently changed ownership from their previous company Centerfield Partners, LLC. Shapiro teamed up with Eugene Lupario, a minority owner from the last season, and bought the team. Both Shapiro and Lupario live in Corte Madera and Shapiro said the purchase was to keep the team in Marin County so it could benefit "the local community and to make sure it continued to honor all of the commitments and promises we made from the very beginning."

"This team is a part of the fabric of the community and is best owned and operated by members of that community," he said. Now, the company's name is Sandlot, LLC.

Although the Pacifics ended the season as division champions, they had a rocky start. Neighbors raised concerns about the impacts of traffic, noise, lighting, the sale of alcohol and parking on the surrounding community when the plan was first proposed to the city. After the city approved the agreement for the first year in September 2011, the Albert Park Neighborhood Association filed a lawsuit, saying that it violated the park’s deed of restrictions that bar commercial use of the property for more than one week and that the proposal should be subject to environmental studies.

A Marin judge did not agree. M. Lynn Duryee ruled in favor of Centerfield and the city in February 2012, but the APNA has since appealed the decision.

As part of the initial agreement, the city assembled a seven-member advisory committee, which includes three members from the adjacent neighborhood, a downtown business owner, two members of Centerfield Partners and someone from the Park and Recreation Commission, that would report on the community impacts at the middle and end of the season.

Many loal business owners showed their support for the baseball team, saying that the activity increased foot traffic to their shops and restaurants. Noise and jaywalking across Andersen Drive during game time were the main problems.

The new contract hopes to maintain a 42-game schedule. Sandlot has also promised to work with the city's traffic engineer to reduce jaywalking. The PA system will be replaced with permanent or temporary equipment to improve sound quality and reduce the broadcast impact outside the park. The game start times will also be earlier to prevent late-night noise.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 1400 Fifth Ave. See the staff report on the three-year contract on the right. Check San Rafael Patch tomorrow or sign up for our newsletter to get updates after the meeting.

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