The dormant fields of Granite Park are once again a field of dreams.
The crack of the bat, the smack of a glove and the cheers of a crowd returned to the park Saturday for the first time in more than seven years.
“This is truly the best day in District 4 history,” Paul Caprioglio with the Fresno City Council said.
City departments and the media anointed the new fields by reviving a tournament from the days before the park turned into an eyesore. The once-promising project, backed by city money, imploded.
Fresno was stuck with a $5.5 million loan and none of the ideas to fix it seemed to be much different than the first.
“And the consistent theme they had was they wanted the city to underwrite it or the city to guarantee it,” mayor Lee Brand explained. “We’re not going to make the same mistake twice.”
And as the paint started to peel and the green fields turned brown, businesses left the commercial space. Even as some restaurants anchored in the area, the city struggled to find a partner willing to help turn around the sports complex.
“The fact is Granite Park had a stigma and there were a lot of ideas about renovating and how to make this work,” city manager Bruce Rudd said.
This opening day turns an eyesore into a point of pride, so the stigma may be gone and the name could follow.
Rudd said they’re open to renaming it for a sponsor, as they did with Chukchansi Park. Former pro baseball player Terance Frazier was the driving force behind the revival.
His pitch may not have been the first, but city officials thought it was the best.
“We want to be in these impoverished neighborhoods. We understand parks,” he said. “We understand if you get the parks and get the kids out here you can have fewer police officers.”
So now, they’re all pitching in and hoping for a turnaround extending from the park out into the surrounding neighborhoods.