Empire Ranch being sold, turned into soccer complex | NevadaAppeal.com

Empire Ranch being sold, turned into soccer complex

Empire Ranch Golf Course is seen in this file photo.

Owners of a Nevada development soccer team are purchasing Empire Ranch Golf Course.

Art Castañares, founder and CEO of Manzana Energy Inc., and publisher of two bilingual newspapers, and Dr. Fred Simon, a trauma and critical care surgeon and owner of Khristopher's Ristorante and Bar on Mica Drive, are buying the 221-acre site to turn it into a soccer complex for professional, club, and youth play.

The property is being bought through Manzana Capital Investment Fund, their investment fund, for $3.5 million. The sale is expected to close in early March.

Castañares and Simon, both based in San Diego, and Ian Hill, owner The Changing Point, a Carson City consulting firm, own the Carson City Coyotes, the now renamed Western Nevada Football Club, a two-year old team in the United Premier Soccer League.

Hill and other investors will be investing in the new soccer complex as well, according to Castañares.

"It will still take millions to develop it," he said on Tuesday.

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The complex will serve as the Coyotes home and practice field as well as a place for club and youth leagues to practice and play.

Plans for the property are still on the drawing board, but Castañares said the complex could include between 10 to 18 soccer fields, with about half done in field turf.

The developers want to light some of the fields for night play. The Coyotes play a 10-month season and would need a lit field about 20 nights a year, said Castañares. He also expects the soccer-playing community would want to use some fields at night.

Any outside lighting will require a special use permit from the city as will the entire sports complex.

But first the developers plan to talk to nearby residents.

The only way into the golf course is Empire Ranch Road, which is lined with houses that are part of a bigger development adjacent to the course.

"We are open to working with the community to reduce the impacts. The space is so big and we can light with LED lights which would take a lot fewer lights. We can aim them away from the homes. There's a lot of things we could do. We want to be good neighbors," said Castañares.

The fields will consume only about 70 to 80 acres of the property and Castañares said the rest could be divided between open space, wetlands, and possibly a flood basin, as well as opening up existing walking trails.

The clubhouse will be retained.

"As a restaurant it has one of the nicest views in Carson City. And it could be utilized more for parties and events," said Castañares.

The property is one of four sites in Carson City that uses the city's effluent to irrigate. The contract comes with the sale and doesn't expire any time soon, said Castañares, but he said the developers are willing to work with the city to create a uniform contract as separate contracts expire soon with some of the other parties.

Empire Ranch Golf Course has long been in limbo. It's being sold by Dwight Millard, a Carson City developer, who filed for bankruptcy on the course in 2016 and charged the city with not providing promised effluent. The suit has been dismissed.

More than $38,000 in property taxes are owed on the property, according to the Carson City Treasurer's office, but they will be paid before the sale or out of the sale's proceeds, said Castañares.

"We get it free of any lien," he said.

The development partners initially considered other sites in town.

"The evolution of this is we were desperate for a field for our team," said Castañares.

They looked at Lompa Ranch, which will eventually include a 10-acre park, as well as the city's Centennial Park and Edmonds Sports Complex. The idea was to build one field suitable for professional play in exchange for the use of the land.

"But then this opportunity with Empire Ranch opened up and it became a much bigger deal," said Castañares.

The city is so far pleased with the outcome.

"We'd like to see the new ownership do careful community outreach to be sure the concerns of the community are taken into account when designing the project," said Nick Marano, city manager. "We think a well-planned soccer complex would be a great recreational addition to the city, especially if done with private dollars."