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Almost time to play ball: City of Elko Sports Complex nears opening
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Almost time to play ball: City of Elko Sports Complex nears opening

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City of Elko Sports Complex

Three baseball/softball fields with a concession and bathroom building, back, are shown Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at the City of Elko Sports Complex, which is tentatively slated to open for use in September or October 2020. 

ELKO — A centralized sports complex has been a long time coming.

Parks and Recreation Director James Wiley said the land the City of Elko Sports Complex currently occupies was actually purchased by the city clear back “in the 1930s or 1940s,” sold by then-Mayor Dave Dotta for what Wiley thought “was only $30,000 or $40,000.”

After decades of brainstorming, plans than failed to launch and numerous obstacles, the opening of the sports complex is on the horizon — likely coming in the fall of 2020.

“The concept goes way back, but the planning stages for this location and this complex began in 2012,” Wiley said. “Altogether, the size is about 80 acres — which will include 60 developed and 20 wetland.”

Wiley said the plan was to begin construction in 2016, but the process was held up significantly due to permitting issues.

“We got hung up, waiting on a permit with the Army Corps of Engineers,” he said. “We got started in 2018, and I knew it would be at least a two-season construction window.”

As for the ground, Wiley said the location was made possible because “parks are allowed to develop in flood plains.”

“There was no water on the fields last year after a pretty big winter. I was excited to see that aspect,” he said. “That was one of the first steps of construction, grading channels out away from the river and back into the main.”

The complex is nearing the end of Phase One, which included mass grading, creating a wetland water-flow plan, installing utilities, all the heavy lifting, constructing three baseball/softball fields, a parking lot and a bathroom/concession area.

“There will probably be between six or eight phases, resulting in six baseball/softball fields and two soccer/football multiuse fields,” Wiley said. “Conceptually, I can see having to do the soccer and football fields next. We could have soccer on the baseball fields if we had to for a tournament or something like that, but we probably won’t.”

As for money, Wiley said progress is consistent with the original budget.

“We stayed within budget based on the estimate we had. We only bid the project out one time. We had a higher bid and then a lower one,” he said. “Granite Construction was the general contractor. We had a lot of subs (contractors), some local — some not.”

Granite Construction’s bid for the general construction was for $6.78 million, with other costs pushing the total to “about $10 million,” Wiley said.

The largest donor to the project was from the William N. Pennington Foundation — which put up $2.1 millionfollowed by a $500,000 pledge from Barrick Gold Corp., $100,00 by Newmont Mining Corp., $50,000 from Kinross Mining and $1,000 donated by Southwest Gas.

“I have the full list on my desk at the office,” Wiley said. “CCS (Concrete Construction Supply) donated materials — rebar for the scoreboards — and Pacific Steel (and Recycling) gave us the beams for the scoreboards. The mine donations came before the merger, so what’s why the scoreboard says Nevada Gold Mines.”

Wiley said the rest of the money was “bonded through the city,” which included a $200,000 retaining wall along Bullion Road.

“We had to phase out a few things — some landscaping, concrete between the fields and around the concessions and putting in the common area,” Wiley said. “But the complex is functional now and the fields are nice. We’re just missing some of the esthetics.”

Seeding of the baseball fields began during September 2019, “knowing that was pretty late for around here,” Wiley said.

The fields were seeded again during the first part of May 2020 and then once more in the beginning of June, awaiting germination of the second round to fill in spotty patches.

“We could play on the fields right now, but we want the grass to be in great condition so we don’t ruin it,” Wiley said. “We have some nice dugouts, bullpens, the lights, and the water on the fields but we still have to build the grandstands.”

Wiley said each field will consist of three grandstands — a large one behind home plate and two smaller ones on the sides — the bigger of the three consisting of “about 15 rows for probably 150 people” and the lower-level stands containing “maybe seven rows for about 50 or 75 people apiece.”

“We still have to furnish the concession stand with kitchen equipment, and we have to wire the scoreboards,” he said. “We’re low on staff — working with a skeleton crew — but we’re keeping up. There is a job that is coming open for a full-time maintenance position at the complex.”

Start date

“I’m gunning for September. I’d like to have the last adult softball tournament here; the Stephanie Gonzales-Estrada Memorial Softball Tournament,” Wiley said. “I think we’ll make that. I want to have a big grand opening with all the sponsors and the community, but I want to do it right with no social distancing or restrictions in place. We’ll see what comes about as far as that goes.”

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