League City proposes 2 plans for future Bay Colony Park and fields

Bay Colony Park option 1 (Rendering courtesy city of League City, TBG Partners)
Bay Colony Park option 1 (Rendering courtesy city of League City, TBG Partners)

Bay Colony Park option 1 (Rendering courtesy city of League City, TBG Partners)

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Bay Colony Park option 2 (Rendering courtesy city of League City, TBG Partners)
The plan to turn the Chester L. Davis Sportsplex into a regional attraction is dead, prompting the city to move towards building the first phase of new athletic fields with $8 million of taxpayers’ money.

In 2017, Western Spherical Developers expressed interest in turning the sportsplex and surrounding land along I-45 into a $460 million project dubbed Epicenter League City. The site would have included a convention center, amphitheater, hotels, restaurants and more, city officials said.

With the city already needing more athletic fields for youth and adult sports, part of the deal also would have included Western Spherical paying to build new baseball and other athletic fields on city land on the south side of Ervin Street near Calder Road. The sportsplex has 26 sports fields, and Western Spherical presented a plan that included building up to 40 athletic fields on the site of the new Bay Colony Park.

However, in 2019, it became clear Western Spherical was not going to front the money necessary for the project, and city officials began looking into funding Bay Colony Park.

The city hired consulting firm TBG Partners, which has designed other parks for League City, including Hometown Heroes Park. The firm has come up with two potential designs for Bay Colony Park—one with 15 proposed fields, and one with 17.

TBG Partners’ plans have less than half of the 40 fields Western Spherical originally proposed for the site. That is because Western Spherical’s plan did not include detention, green space and other requirements based on the site, Parks Director Chien Wei said.

“If you look at [Western Spherical’s] design, there’s no green space at all,” he said.

There are about 99 acres of land at the site of the future park. With the Grand Parkway posed to eventually come through the area, that leaves about 61 acres of developable property, said Blake Coleman of consulting firm TBG Partners.

TBG Partners determined two park plans—one with two soccer-football-lacrosse fields, five softball fields, four baseball fields and four tennis-pickleball courts; and a second with two additional tennis-pickleball courts.

Additionally, both plans include room for a 5K trail loop for marathons, a playground, concession stands and plenty of green space, plus detention space that could double as practice fields when dry, Coleman said. The major difference between the two proposals is how the park is laid out.

Coleman expressed excitement for the park, saying there is opportunity to make it different from other parks.

“This park has the opportunity to be differentiated and really ... give a great perception of what League City is,” he said.

Officials said the top priority from residents for parks is natural green space and trails, which is why Bay Colony Park includes such amenities.

Residents had through Dec. 23 to submit comments on both plans. In early 2021, League City City Council will likely vote to approve one of the plans, Wei said.

Phase 1 of the park will include five softball fields, concessions, restrooms, batting cages, parking and a maintenance area. Three softball fields at the existing sportsplex will be converted to baseball fields, meaning softball and baseball players will both have more fields on which to play, Wei said.

“We know we need more ball fields in the community. This is a great way to begin,” Baumgartner said. “Phase 2 won’t be far behind if we’re gonna have any chance to keep up with the community.”

The Phase 1 cost is estimated at $8 million. Construction is expected to begin in January 2023 and finish by January 2024. Money will come from 4B funds, which is funded by a quarter-cent sales tax specifically for athletic facilities. The city also applied for a $750,000 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department grant, officials said.

There is a chance Western Spherical or another developer could front the money to turn the sportsplex into a regional destination, but to do so would result in fewer athletic fields in the city than exist today. Baumgartner said that would not fly.

“We would not agree to a net loss in fields,” he said.
By Jake Magee

Editor, Bay Area & Pearland/Friendswood

Jake has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper. Today, he covers everything from aerospace to transportation to flood mitigation.