HOPE FOR THE DISADVANTAGED
Any doubts about Terance Frazier’s fondness for the calculated risk were put to rest last September.
That’s when he and local developer TJ Cox pledged to turn the long-troubled Granite Park ball fields in east-central Fresno into something spectacular.
Frazier, Cox, Mayor Swearengin and top city officials gathered at city-owned Granite Park for the big announcement. Frazier and Cox promised to spend millions. The plan: Give kids a place to play, help the disadvantaged, add green space, bail City Hall out of a jam.
If you think that sounds a lot like the Al Radka game plan, you’re right.
Frazier said the Central Cal board decided it was time to expand its mission into Southeast Fresno.
“It would be better if we did Al Radka and Granite Park together,” Frazier said. “They complement each other.”
Al Radka has more than baseball/softball fields. There also are restrooms, field lights, picnic tables and a children’s play area, among other amenities.
“The problem with Al Radka is deferred maintenance,” Frazier said. “It’s been a huge problem. (City officials) don’t want to do the parks anymore. I don’t think they have the funding. So all these parks are in terrible condition. Once we get this going, we’re going to try to keep this running eight months to 12 months out of the year.”
The youngsters of Central Cal Baseball Academy will do more than throw, catch and hit.
“We’re going to have these kids learn how to volunteer and work on these parks,” Frazier said. “We’re going to have community meetings and talk to the parents and teach the parents how to be better parents. We’re going to do everything we can to help these kids and their families.”
Frazier said he plans to raise $40,000 in seed money for Al Radka. He said Cox has vowed to match it.
“We’re trying to get it to fifty ($50,000) and see if he’ll match that,” Frazier said.
Frazier said he hopes to raise the start-up money by hosting parties, inviting his friends, and asking them to donate to his worthy cause. But this fundraising model has limits.
“Begging for money all the time is not a good program for success,” Frazier said. “You have to have some way to bring in income instead of always begging for money.”
It’s not clear exactly how Frazier plans to generate long-term funding for his vision. But one thing is clear – that vision is grand.
Frazier said he also owns the Gateway Ice Center (formerly Icelandia) near the corner of Clinton and Marks avenues in west-central Fresno. He said the center in two or three years will be twice its current size and home to indoor ball fields in addition to the ice rink, all of it designed to give kids a place to play while getting wise advice about life from caring adults.
At the same time, Frazier is chairman of the board of Central Valley Sports Foundation. Cox is a board member. This foundation is the Frazier-Cox vehicle for transforming Granite Park. Frazier said the foundation is also the “umbrella” over the Central Cal Baseball Academy.
The entire picture may not be crystal clear to an outsider like me, but its outline is distinct: A foundation with powerful developers at its helm; a nonprofit baseball academy with admirable social welfare intentions; an arc of physical assets stretching from Al Radka Park in the southeast through Granite Park in the city center to Gateway Ice Center west of Highway 99.
“We are going to look for other teams and other organizations that do the same kind of work that we can put under our umbrella,” Frazier said. “That’s our main focus, our mission – to find the kids who can’t play sports because of funding. We’re trying to find the kids who need the extra help so we can wrap services around them.”
Frazier jokes that he has plenty of time to get everything done because he doesn’t sleep at night.
But the serious side is never far away.
“In life, you can’t just make money,” Frazier said. “You’ve got to be able to give some of it back. My job is to get Fulton Street and the downtown going. The money I make will be put back into the city of Fresno. This is how I do it.”