Gilbert Town Council to consider rebranding of Elliot District Park facility as Cactus Yards

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Cactus Yards will be the new name for Elliot District Park’s fields facility if a proposal before the Town Council on Thursday meets it approval.

The rebranding comes as the town continues with refurbishment efforts and prepares to reopen the facility, likely in February, as part of its parks portfolio.

Big League Dreams USA, which runs 10 other similar sports parks in California, Texas and Las Vegas, once privately ran the facility.

It closed in July 2017 because of the town’s safety concerns about crumbling concrete and unstable outfield walls. The town then voted to terminate Big League Dreams’ contract in October 2017.

A public park

The town plans to run the facility as a public park, interim Parks and Recreation Director Robert Carmona said, but it wants to compete to host private tournaments, just as Big League Dreams and other municipalities do.

The rebranding is part of an effort to give the park and a new look and feel, Carmona said. Officials engaged with a marketing group in the effort.

“As we were bouncing around names and logos and colors, we really liked the idea of Cactus Yards,” Carmona said. “I think we all know the Cactus League [Major League Baseball spring training] is a very important Arizona stronghold based on the area. Then using the yards concept, a popular baseball term whether it’s used
for a park or home runs. We all liked the way it felt to say, ‘Cactus Yards.'”

Prominence

The name, logo and color scheme will be prominent throughout the park, Carmona said.

The facility features eight ballfields, two restaurants, an indoor soccer facility, batting cages and playground.

Craft Culinary Concepts, which also is being presented to the council tonight for approval as the vendor to run the restaurants, is looking to incorporate the theme into the restaurants’ concepts, Carmona said.

Craft Culinary Concepts mostly does food for sports stadiums and events, such as Arizona Cardinals games, the Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the Barrett Jackson Auto Auction.

Tournament-public use mix

The facility is ideal for tournament play, Carmona said, and it frequently would be used as such on weekends and holidays. In fact, he said the town has interest in bookings for tournaments on 90 percent of the weekends after it opens.

Still, the park will not be run exclusively that way, he said.

“The biggest thing we wanted to do is take it away from [being]more of a special-interest park into a balance of that special interest for the tournament-type facility, but also have a community park field where we have balanced programming throughout the week and opportunities and recreation classes for youth and adults and leagues.”

To fit the needs of the community better, the park could expand into sports such as kickball and frisbee, Carmona said.

Also before council

Other items involving Elliot District Park before the council on Thursday include:

• an agreement to allow the Arizona Diamondbacks to refurbish the scoreboard at the field’s Chase Field replica field;

• installation of artificial turf in the indoor soccer pavilion and in areas between the ballfields; and

• increasing a contract amount with Shade ‘N Net by $200,528.20 to allow for safety netting and shade structures.

The Town Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in chambers at the Municipal I building, 50 E. Civic Center Drive.

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Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.
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