In what continues to be quite the curveball, Big League Dreams continues to delay the return of $400,000 to the city of Oxnard.
The Oxnard City Council voted unanimously in April to end a six-year relationship with the Chino Hills-based company that builds little league fields as replicas of famous ball stadiums. The company wanted to run its business on about 22 acres of Oxnard’s 75-acre College Park. But the city concluded it did not have funds for the construction costs. City Attorney Alan Holmberg then wrote a letter to Big League Dreams requesting a refund of the $400,000 license fee paid to the company.
Almost three months later, Big League Dreams has yet to respond.
“We still hope to work something out, but they have not responded directly,” Holmberg said. Despite the company’s reluctance, Holmberg said he is confident the issue will be resolved.
Scott LaTellier, CEO of Big League Dreams, is also confident the issue will be resolved and hopes his company will still be able to manage and maintain the facilities at College Park.
“What we’ve concluded is to sit down and talk with the partners and talk with Oxnard,” LaTellier said. “The discussion is, they still have the intention of building a recreational sports park along the lines of Big League Dreams, but without Big League Dreams features, and that places them in a situation where they still need to maintain and operate the park.”
He added that there are dozens of cities across the country that are lining up to have his company take over the maintenance and operation of their traditional municipal facilities.
Big League Dreams currently operates 10 parks with its customary Major League Baseball stadium replicas, but has yet to take up an offer to manage a facility used simply for recreation.
Additionally, LaTellier said his company has consistently been on time in payment obligations with other cities, and said the situation with Oxnard needs to be explored further.
“We’ve made over $16 million in payments to our partners and have never missed a contractual payment,” said LaTellier. “What we’ve learned is, in all of these situations, is what makes sense is for partners to discuss the issues.”
But reports recently published show that attempts by cities seeking the return of their licensing fees from Big League Dreams have been fraught with negotiations and potential lawsuits.
City Councilman Tim Flynn cautioned about doing business with Big League Dreams back in 2007 when the City Council voted 4-1 in favor of bringing Big League Dreams to Oxnard.
“This was a bad deal from the beginning,” said Flynn, “but let’s put it this way: The city has made a decision not to go forward. We’re not going to sit down and renegotiate a contract. That’s all there is to it. The money needs to be refunded as quickly as possible, and with interest, of course. I know other cities have had issues with this, and I hope we are not going to fall into that category.”
Ventura Chamber CEO resigns
The Ventura Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday, July 13, that CEO Sandra Burkhart has accepted a leadership role with the Western States Petroleum Association, a chamber member. Her last day at the chamber will be July 31. Burkhart has served as the chamber’s CEO since May 2010.
”During her time as our leader, has brought an incredible energy and positive momentum to the organization,” said Marni Brook, chair of the chamber board.
Burkhart plans to stay connected with the chamber through the association.
The search for a new CEO will begin next week, according to Brook. An interim will be placed immediately. Those who applied for the position last year whom the chamber board felt were good candidates will be contacted again and the chamber will be seeking new applicants as well.