By DIANE XAVIER
The Dallas Examiner
The Dallas City Council was briefed about an upgrade to Reverchon Park ballpark during its Nov. 19 meeting.
Reverchon Park is a 39-acre public park, located between Maple Avenue, the Dallas North Tollway, Scottish Rite Hospital and the Katy Trail in the Oak Lawn area.
The original 36-acre park was purchased by the city of Dallas for $31,128 from the estate of John D. Cole. The century old park opened in 1915 with the ball field built in 1919. It was the first lighted field in the park system in the late 1930s. The ball field is considered run down and in bad condition.
During the briefing, City Council heard from the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department about the park development, maintenance and operation agreement. They were also informed about a proposal to build a new ball field.
John D. Jenkins, interim director of the Park and Recreation Department, presented the proposal.
“The current existing conditions of the ballpark is that it has 700 permanent, non-accessible bleacher seats, antiquated, non-accessible restrooms, an unusable concession facility, and dugouts with inadequate drainage and no team staging areas,” Jenkins said.
The idea of an upgrade was first considered on Dec. 1, 2016, when the Dallas Parks and Recreation Board was briefed on potential opportunities for the development and operation of a new ballpark at Reverchon Park. On Jan. 17, 2018, the first request for proposals was given and the agreement was approved by the board and council members but was never executed because funding was not generated.
This year, a second request for proposal was issued June 26 and one proposal was received July 19 from Reverchon Park Sports and Entertainment, LLC. RPSE is owned by Dallas Mavericks General Manager Donnie Nelson.
“RPSE has exclusive control of licenses for Major League Rugby, American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, and United Soccer League,” Jenkins said. “The term of the agreement will be 20 years with one 10-year and two 5-year optional extensions. RPSE will provide all maintenance of the facility, fields, and parking lot. They will use funds from naming and branding rights, sponsorship, season ticket sales, and suite sales, to offset annual operational expenses.”
RPSE will also be responsible for the development, design, marketing, sponsorships, branding, advertising, sales, and daily facility operations and maintenance of the ball field.
“There will be multiple uses for baseball, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, concerts as well,” Jenkins said. “In particular, I want to point out as far as our usage, the recreation leagues; we utilize the facility about seven times a year. RPSE has made sure at a minimum we will run a league in the fall as well as in the spring as well as tournaments in the summer that will include up to 20 to 30 uses per year. That was very important to the park board that we definitely have that in the agreement. Also, it would be available for community events and also one of the priorities of the park board was to make sure that for any existing users they will accommodate their current schedule for using the facility.”
As far as improvements, RPSE will replace the existing Reverchon baseball field and bleachers with a new, improved facility.
It would have 2,000 seats, including accessible seats and additional 1,500 bleacher seats. The facility would include restrooms, concessions, locker rooms, and dugouts for each team and would have public restrooms accessible to all users of Reverchon Park.
“It would also have enhanced parking lot and road access that can be gated off for pedestrian events and festivals” Jenkins said.
Jenkins projected that the new ball park would result in a loss of revenue for the first two years in operation but would bounce back and create revenue in years three through five.
“Benefits to the city include a new ball park facility, increased usage by youth baseball leagues, and is beneficial to public schools and other users needing baseball fields,” Jenkins said. “It also has greater access for all park users and includes improvements to the park. There will be enhanced maintenance and a venue for community events and activities.”
The new ball park would also have an artificial turf on the ball field. This is considered to be the first in the city system and also have an all-abilities ballfield which is also a first in the city system.
“Having artificial turf we think would allow us to extend our sports season,” Jenkins said. “Currently, because we have grass fields, and we just experienced a freeze this year, our fields went into dormancy because we had a freeze. So we normally would be able to use our athletic fields for about eight months out of the year and with this partnership with RPSE, we think we are able to get more athletic play, probably about 10 months out of the year.”
The estimated design and construction cost of the development is $15 million.
“My team and I are still working with RPSE in regards to the financial terms,” Jenkins said. “My staff and I are still negotiating a deal before we bring it back to the council.”
The item is waiting for city council approval on Dec. 11. RPSE would like to start construction on the ball park in January 2021 with construction complete in July 2022.
In other city news
During the afternoon session, the City Council went into an executive session, a closed session deliberation, to allow attorney briefings regarding the deployment of, or specific occasions for implementing, security personnel or devices regarding legal issues related to Diamond Ross – a 35-year-old African American woman who died in police custody in August 2018.