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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / OXNARD

Suns Break Ground to Upgrade Field

January 22, 1998|CHRIS CHI

After they had to wait more than a year for approval to play at Oxnard College, you could understand the Pacific Suns' enthusiasm.

Hours after Ventura County college district trustees gave the team approval to use the campus ballpark, Suns officials took the field Wednesday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony.

The vote late Tuesday means the team can move ahead with plans to upgrade the field. Before opening day in May, the Suns plan to install bleachers to boost seating capacity to about 2,500, build a security fence, and put up five 80-foot-high poles for stadium lights.

The Suns moved to Oxnard from Palm Springs in late 1996, taking 1997 off to marshal community support. During the past year, team officials attended public meetings at City Hall and at the Ventura County Community College District to win support for the ballpark plan.

With the public meetings over, the team is focusing on pressing issues--such as finding a permanent stadium site and lining up contracts with concessionaires, Suns Vice President Paul Regina said.

"Obviously, there's a lot of happiness," he said. "But we're also sucking in air, because now the thing is to deliver a full season of baseball events. That's a lot of work."

To that end, team owner Don DiCarlo met with his attorney Wednesday to discuss a lawsuit aimed at blocking the team from playing at the college. A resident who believes that the team will bring traffic jams, noise and other problems filed the suit last week. The request for an injunction against the team goes to court Feb. 2.

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