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Deadline looms for dream of sports complex

Ybarra millions short of funding goal; land use permit to expire

STERLING – Although he is now 7 years into his dream project and still millions of dollars from breaking ground, Larry Ybarra remains as committed as ever to building a sports complex in Sterling.

If he wants the 21-acre complex to be built soon, though, he must break ground by April 17.

Ybarra, 62, is a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance and a former Newman Central Catholic High School baseball coach. For 7 years, he has been trying to bring a private sports complex to town.

He envisions a multimillion-dollar facility that would include a football field surrounded by an eight-lane track, soccer fields, and a 4,500-seat stadium, and later, a baseball complex. Ybarra wants to build the complex at the northeast corner of Oak Grove Avenue and West 23rd Street, off West Lynn Boulevard.

Ybarra has just a few months to act on his dream or he will face a major setback. If he does not break ground by April 17, he will lose the R1 special use designation he earned for its construction, according to City Building and Zoning Superintendent Amanda Schmidt.

Schmidt said the special use designation expires a year from when it was initially approved. She said she has not spoken with Ybarra since the City Council meeting last April, nor has she received any correspondence.

Asked about the likelihood of Ybarra breaking ground before the deadline, Schmidt said, “If plans haven’t even been started, I doubt it.”

In an interview Friday, Ybarra said he estimates his plan for the sports complex will cost $6 million.

Ybarra said he was advised to raise 35 percent of that – about $2 million – on his own through investors. He would then acquire the 65 percent remaining through bank loans.

The former baseball coach said he was “nowhere” near raising $2 million.

“We have not gotten any commitments from anybody,” he said. “We’re still having trouble trying to locate people that would want to participate in this.”

He also blamed the poor economy.

“A lot of corporations ... they have money but they’re holding on to it,” he said. “They don’t want to make any type of investments at this point outside of their business.”

Ybarra said he believes investors would eventually earn a return.

And he remains firmly committed to his dream.

“We have everything ready to go; we’re just waiting on and we’re trying to locate the proper funding to get this off the ground,” Ybarra said. “Since this is a private enterprise, it’s very difficult for us to get any public dollars, any grants or anything like that.

“It’s got to be all done by individuals.”

Ybarra was asked whether it was possible to raise enough to break ground by the spring deadline.

“If I find the right people to contribute to that vision, then yes,” he said. “It would just be a matter of maybe weeks or maybe a month before all the money would be put in place.”

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