MISSION VIEJO — Saddleback College trustees agreed Monday that they need more time to decide whether to allow construction of a $6-million campus ballpark to attract the Long Beach Riptide baseball team.
The seven-member board met in closed session Monday night without coming to a decision on the proposed 4,500-seat stadium, and Chancellor Robert Lombardi said the trustees will need more information.
"It's a complicated, multifaceted issue that's growing more complicated all the time," Lombardi said. "All the issues are resolvable, but they are not resolvable right now, or a week from now."
The board will hold a special meeting Dec. 16 to discuss the issue in closed session, but Lombardi said they are not likely to decide then.
Time is becoming an increasingly precious commodity for the minor league baseball team, whose owners have a Dec. 31 deadline to let the city of Long Beach know if the club will return. The odds that the college board will decide by the Dec. 31 deadline, Lombardi said, are "about 50-50."
Lombardi said the trustees are concerned about environmental impacts of a stadium on the hilltop campus and about the project's effects on the surrounding community.
The stadium is opposed by campus groups such as the Academic Senate, a faculty organization that feels the college is rushing into an agreement without fully studying its effects on the campus.
The city of Mission Viejo has already agreed to a tentative 25-year deal with the Riptide that would guarantee sales of 1,750 season tickets. In exchange, the city would get a percentage of ticket, concession and parking revenue.
The city would finance the ballpark by issuing bonds. City officials expect to pay for the bonds from redevelopment funds.
The plan has been vehemently opposed by a handful of residents, who say Mission Viejo could be stuck with paying for an empty ballpark if the Riptide decided to jump cities again. And homeowners near the campus are concerned about traffic and noise.