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RiverDogs cancel play, cite loss of Miles Field

The uncertainty over the replacement for Miles Field has forced the Southern Oregon RiverDogs baseball team to suspend its games for a year.

The move affects some two dozen college-age players who use the summer season to hone their skills against teams from all over the state.

RiverDogs General Manager Jim McAbee expressed frustration over the dearth of playing space created by the demise of Miles Field, which was demolished in September because the property was sold to Wal-Mart for a prospective supercenter.

I'm probably like everybody else: Why didn't they build a facility first before they took the old one down? said McAbee. There's nothing sitting there; there's no new store.

He said he worries about the younger baseball players because the city is short on fields.

— It's going to be interesting to see where all these people are going to schedule their teams, he said.

A new field was supposed to be built by this summer by the Medford Youth Baseball Society. But the organization's failure to follow bidding requirements has put the project in limbo.

The Medford City Council is considering terminating its contract with the society at its noon session today in City Hall Council Chambers, 411 W. Eighth St., Medford.

Society President Gary Miller said he doesn't believe his group is at fault and plans to speak to the council today. He declined to give details, however.

We'll just talk about it so we're all on the same page, he said.

Parks Director Brian Sjothun and City Attorney Ron Doyle also declined to comment before the council makes its decision.

Site preparation and design work for the &

36;2.3 million field at the new Medford Sports Park was under way when an ironworkers union representative in November complained to the city. He said the building contract had been awarded to Batzer Inc. without the required competitive bidding procedure.

Doyle has said there is also concern whether prevailing- wage rates were paid on the project and fears there may be litigation.

The council today will consider paying for contractual work that has been completed to date. According to Doyle, about &

36;100,000 already had been authorized by the council, but there is another &

36;178,000 worth of work completed for which payment has not yet been authorized.

The city has until November 2006 to complete a new field in an agreement with Jackson County, which provided the &

36;2.3 million for the project from the sale of the property to Wal-Mart.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail .