Gregory Hasman/Observer

Cibola Little League President Ron Thompson looks forward to seeing more work done on the Sports Complex North project. (Gregory Hasman/Observer)

Work on the second portion of the Sports Complex North project is slated to begin next month, according to the City of Rio Rancho.

That’s great news to a member of a local Little League organization.

“We are excited to finally be moving forward with getting some long-overdue projects in the works,” Cibola Little League President Ron Thompson said in an email.

This phase will consist of site grading and drainage, extending water and electrical utilities to the location, providing emergency vehicle access, landscaping, stabilizing disturbed earth, constructing a concrete stairway and ramp from existing fields to a concrete pedestrian plaza and building concession and restroom facilities.

“The concessions will be a significant upgrade from the limited space we currently have and will increase the options of bringing in additional revenue to help with other facility upgrades, improvements and equipment replacements that need to occur,” he said.

The Rio Rancho Governing Body recently awarded a $2.37 million bid to T.A. Cole & Sons General Contractors of Albuquerque to do this phase of the project. The proposed location is between Hamilton Place NE and the Cibola Little League fields.

The sports complex is a quality-of-life facility important to residents, especially kids in Little League and those who use it for softball, Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull told the Observer.

Youth sports and activities can teach life lessons and build a stronger sense of community, Rio Rancho spokeswoman Annemarie Garcia said.

“Team sports are also known to bring in visitors from the area, region and even out of state, who will potentially spend time in our community and visit our local restaurants and shops,” she said.

The city received state grants and capital outlay allocations over the past few years that went toward the design and construction of the second phase, according to the March 10 city meeting packet.

“In the past, we struggled to find funding for it, but with capital outlay money and revenues pulled together from the city, we’ve been able to move that project forward,” Hull said.

Work is expected to begin in April and be completed in the fall, according to the city packet.

Looking ahead

The city began planning and acquiring land for the Sports Complex North facility in 2005.

The first phase of work, consisting of the construction of two Little League artificial turf fields, a pedestrian plaza and a temporary parking lot off Lincoln Avenue and Chayote Road, was finished in 2010, paid for by state, county and city funds. State grants totaling about $3.1 million allowed the city to later add shaded bleachers, scorers’ boxes, electronic scoreboards and field lighting.

Once the second phase is completed, the city will turn its attention to building three lighted, artificial turf fields and a parking lot.

The city anticipates using state legislative funds and park impact fees (fees collected when new development occurs) to pay for these items, Garcia said, adding that the start time for this work depends on future funding.

The new ball fields will increase field availability and allow local youth sports organizations to ensure that more players will have a chance to participate, Thompson said.

“Hopefully we can find solutions to get to the additional phases of building fields sooner than it has taken us to get to phase two,” he said. “The fields are in high demand right now (due to) the growth of the youth population in Rio Rancho.”