Developer: City will gain ball fields with Copper Sky medical project

This proposed medical campus at Copper Sky was approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission Monday. Part of the city's agreement with the developers is that they will find sites and build new ball fields to replace those lost to the development at Copper Sky. [City of Maricopa]

A board member of S3 BioTech, developer of the medical and innovation campus planned for Copper Sky, said the city will see a net gain of baseball and softball fields as a result of the project.

“Copper Sky will lose two fields with our project,” said Ed Johnson, a member of the S3 BioTech board. “There will be a combination of baseball and softball fields at the new site, and it will be at least the size of what’s currently at Copper Sky.”

Johnson said the city will gain fields in the deal.

“There are two fields being lost at Copper Sky and there will be more than two at this new site,” Johnson said. “The designs we’re working on now call for the new fields to be equal or greater in quality to the Copper Sky, but others will be judge of that. We’re designing them to be at least as good as Copper Sky.”

Johnson said the fields would include restrooms and “solid parking,” but concession areas and other amenities are still under consideration. City Parks & Recreation Director Nathan Ullyot had a somewhat different perspective.

“Since the current fields have restrooms, concessions, etc., we will require (those amenities) if there is any relocation or movement,” Ullyot  said. “We may attempt a different design to improve the operations, but we will not reduce the amenities.”

Ullyot said the city prefers that all of the new fields be in one location.

“Our philosophy is to be efficient with space, personnel and resources,” Ullyot said. “Having four-plus fields in one place maximizes those factors. Less equipment is needed, less staff and equipment have to travel, less water sources are needed. (We get) more bang for the buck. Complexes are more attractive, (for) tournaments and practices alike.”

Johnson said that is S3 BioTech’s preference, as well, to ease construction timing and cost.

Location of the new complex is undetermined, but Johnson dropped a hint.

“We’re looking at the eastern part of the city where population is growing,” he said. “We have identified sites in town already and they will all allow us to keep our promise that the number of fields will not decrease.”

He added that things will be moving quickly.

“We can’t move on Innovation Village until the field replacement deal is in place,” he said. “We must have a signed agreement, and we hope to come before the Council with that agreement in the next couple of months. That arrangement has emboldened us to move forward on this quickly. We’re doing drawings for fields all around the city so we can move quickly when we find the right site.”

Ullyot said the city does not have a preferred location of the new fields.

“Whatever option best maximizes the value of our parks system to our residents from a use and economic-impact standpoint,” he said when asked for a preferred location. “(We are) flexible here.”

One place the fields are certain not to be is another part of Copper Sky, Johnson said. There simply is not enough acreage at the park. But he did intimate that there could be more down the road.

“These immediate fields will not be at Copper Sky,” Johnson said. “There could be a possibility for more fields there in the longer term, depending on what happens east of the lake. But the need is there now, and that isn’t a solution right away.”