Training center put on hold

Training center put on hold
The site of the former Del Mar Skate Ranch, where plans for a new junior sports training facility was supposed to be built, has been put on an indefinite hold due to funding. Photo by Jared Whitlock

DEL MAR — Plans to build a first-of-its-kind junior sports training facility at the Del Mar Golf Center have been put on hold indefinitely after a recent estimate came in at more than twice what the project was expected to cost when it was launched three years ago. 

Matt Clay, general manager of the golf center, made the announcement “with a heavy heart” at the March 13 board of directors meeting for the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which manages the Del Mar Fairgrounds, on which the facility is located.

In a February letter to Tim Fennell, fairgrounds general manager, Clay stated engineering estimates from the architect and his team were upward of $2 million.

The golf center partnered with Del Mar resident Sean Cochran, Phil Mickelson’s personal trainer, and had, according to Fennell, “a handshake deal” with Titleist for sponsorship.

An original estimate of $1.25 million was developed in 2010 without formal construction documents because it was necessary to get the required coastal development permit, or CDP, before any work could be done.

The 22nd DAA had approved the project and agreed to fund the $1.25 million.

But it took more than 2 1/2 years to obtain the CDP. During that time, Titleist was sold. The new owners “decided to move in a different direction and we were unable to solidify the partnership,” Clay wrote.

Clay said he believed at the time the project could still move forward without a major sponsor, but once the full site survey was performed, soil samples indicated more work was needed than what was originally expected. The price tag continued to rise as the cost to bring utilities to the site also increased.

“After much debate and evaluation it has been determined that it is no longer financially feasible to complete the project with the approved budget,” Clay’s letter states. “Increasing the budget and requesting additional DAA funds is not a financially sound decision.”

Clay said he decided to put the project on hold while he looks for another sponsor or an underwriter.

Clay estimates about $22,000 has been spent on architectural plans and permitting fees. Knowing how much time and effort Clay had invested in the center, directors said they appreciated him putting the project on hold before any more money was spent.

Plans called for sports-specific conditioning and workout programs for young athletes, not just golfers. It was to include a 55,000-square-foot indoor facility and 35,000-square-foot field east of the racetrack, where the skate ranch was once located.

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