Here is a quote from two newspapers:
Catching everybody by surprise, Tracy is giving a Los Gatos developer a shot to build a $1.2 billion tourist destination four times bigger than Disneyland.
The city gave an exclusive right to negotiate for 628 acres to James Rogers and Spirit of California LLC. Spirit of California is the name of the proposed theme park.
"This will create a destination entertainment park that will exceed Disneyland," proclaimed Rogers, 54. "Six Flags and other parks don't rival this."
Rogers envisions hordes of visitors flocking to a huge mosaic of attractions north of Tracy: an amusement park, race track, casino, hotel, convention center, wine-tasting center, Delta marina and more.
The project, which has become much bigger than the city of Tracy expected, is still evolving. Some aspects will change, said Rogers, who is still commissioning studies.
Nevertheless, he says he wants to break ground in two years and have the park built out by 2024.
"Tracy is the perfect spot for it," Rogers said.
According to Rogers' calculations, there are 8.5 million people living within a one-hour radius, eight highways and a dearth of recreation.
"A lot of kids who go to college don't come back," Rogers said. " 'There's nothing to do in Tracy,' that's the most common comment I've heard there."
Spirit of California will fix that, he said. "Everything that happens in California can happen at this destination," he said. "And it's going to be exciting and entertaining." The project originated in 2008 with the closure of the Altamont raceway. A couple of Tracy entrepreneurs approached the city about building a race track on Holly Sugar plant land the city bought after the plant closed in 2000.
Rogers came aboard, saw Tracy's connection to the Bay Area, even water access, and decided to propose a vastly bigger project.
"Why don't we expand the thing into a destination project and the synergy that's created by having all these different venues makes all of them more successful than they'd be on their own?" he said he reasoned.
Tracy is interested because the project dovetails nicely with north city land use, said Tracy City Manager Leon Churchill.
The city is building a sports complex on the sugar plant land. The park could enhance it. It could also boost the West Valley Mall and other nearby retail, Churchill said.
In fact, the economic impact of a successful theme park would be huge countywide. Disneyland, which attracts about 40,000 visitors a day, pumps $4.7 billion annually into the Southern California economy.
The environmental impacts would be equally huge. Rogers claims he can keep the Altamont from gridlocking with rail and bus. The project has not reached the stage of concrete mitigation proposals.
It is not even clear Spirit of California will be built.
Its visionary magnitude invites comparison to Gold Rush City/Califia, another enormous theme park proposed for Lathrop in the 1990s. The project fizzled.
Tracy is protecting itself, Churchill said. "The city will not go forward or allocate staff time or any resources whatsoever until we get verification of financial viability," he said. "Whether it was real or a pipe dream will be proven by the level of investment it obtains."
The exclusive right to negotiate lays out various deadlines for Rogers, including proving he has the money. Rogers missed that deadline.
"I have multiple investors at the table that will put up the entire amount," Rogers asserted, saying, "Until the studies are done, you can't sign people."
Rogers said he will produce proof of financing within a month.
The project came as a complete surprise to Stockton leaders. "It's news to me," said Stockton chamber CEO Douglass Wilhoit. He added, "If it's true, the economic impact would be wonderful."
John Beckman, head of the Building and Industry Association of the Greater Valley, was caught off guard, too.
"My only trepidation is like many of those big, grand ideas - they go a little ways and then don't go anywhere," Beckman said. But, "If the guy was able to actually build it, it'd be incredible."
A leading Sierra Club member, also an urban planner, Eric Parfrey, called the idea "just absurd on the face of it."
"To put an amusement park on the far side of the Altamont Pass away from 8 million people in the Bay Area makes no sense at all," Parfrey said. "It's a nonstarter."
Crunch time for Rogers is Sept. 20, when the exclusive right to negotiate expires. He must satisfy all Tracy's requirements by then.
He vows he will - and if San Joaquin County does not become the Happiest Place on Earth, it will be much more fun and prosperous. "You'll finally in the Central Valley have a real destination with something for everybody," he said.
TRACY, Calif. -- A developer is proposing to build a $1.2 billion entertainment hub in Tracy that would be four times bigger than Disneyland.
The Stockton Record (http://bit.ly/Pxv71v ) reports city officials gave James Rogers and Spirit of California the exclusive right to negotiate for 628 acres north of Tracy, about 60 miles east of San Francisco.
The Los Gatos developer says the Spirit of California project would include an amusement park, race track, casino, hotel, convention center, wine-tasting center and marina.
Rogers is still commissioning studies on the project, but says he wants to break ground in two years and have it built by 2024.
But the project is likely to run into opposition from residents worried about its environmental impacts. Local Sierra Club member Eric Parfrey calls the idea a "nonstarter."
Supposedly, this is breaking news as both articles were posted today. Honestly, I think this will be a flop and never be built since there is not much more demand for another amusement park in Northern California as we already have SFDK, CGA, SCBB, and many smaller parks. I think that Tracy isn't the best location, but I can see this park attract the Bay Area and especially Stockton & Sacramento. But, what do you think?