Janesville again seeks Dawson Ball Fields operator

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Jake Magee
Friday, October 20, 2017

JANESVILLE—Less than a year since it tried to lease Dawson Ball Fields, the city is giving itself another chance at bat.

After upgrading the fields, Janesville officials have issued a second request for proposals from parties interested in leasing and operating the complex at 920 Beloit Ave.

Proposals are due Nov. 10.

The request doesn't differ from the one the city issued in December. Officials hope to find an organization that can operate the entire complex and possibly expand the facility's use, increase its benefit to the community and reduce how much the city spends, said Jennifer Petruzzello, neighborhood and community services director.

The city budgeted $65,000 this year to operate Dawson Ball Fields but made only $33,000 in revenue. Concessions brought in an additional $6,000, and $26,000 from the general fund made up the shortfall, Petruzzello said.

That's typical. Dawson Ball Fields usually operate at a loss, Recreation Director Shelley Slapack has said.

Early this year, two parties—the Janesville Youth Baseball and Softball Association and Brooks Graff Baseball of Lake Mills—expressed an interest in operating the fields.

Both proposals required the city to address maintenance needs at the fields.

The Janesville Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee in March recommended the city not lease the fields to either party and instead improve the facility, which the city has done.

Officials this year made minor field improvements, renovated restrooms, replaced signs and installed a new roof on the concession stand.

Early next year, the city will regrade the fields, plant more grass and improve the lighting, Petruzzello said.

Neither proposal would have impeded the city's adult softball and kickball leagues, which the city wants to maintain or possibly expand. This season, Dawson Ball Fields hosted about 55 adult softball teams, seven adult kickball teams and six tournaments, Petruzzello said.

“We would anticipate that those programs would continue,” she said.

The association wanted to pay $1 a year for two years to lease Dawson Ball Fields. The facility would have served as a practice facility in 2018 and potentially would have become a game facility in 2019.

Brooks Graff Baseball offered $1,000 a month for two years. The business runs a 15,000-square-foot indoor facility and wanted to eventually relocate to Janesville.

Neither the association nor Brooks Graff Baseball has submitted proposals yet this time around, Petruzzello said.

The committee will interview interested parties Nov. 28 and make a recommendation on which organization, if any, to lease the fields to by January.

The city council will likely make the final decision in early February, Petruzzello said.

If the city does lease Dawson Ball Fields, the new renter wouldn't take over until after the 2018 season, she said.

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