Saturday, February 07 2009
The Boys & Girls Club of Evansville is proposing a $ 150,000 renovation to the baseball field at Bellemeade Park. Half of the funding would come in the form of a grant form Major League Baseball; private donations would cover the rest of the expenses. We wish the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville all the best with this project. This certainly will benefit the Club and Evansville.
MLB funds eyed to help renovate baseball field
Boys & Girls Club swings for fences
The Boys & Girls Club of Evansville has proposed a $150,000 renovation to the baseball field at Bellemeade Park.
Half of the cost would be funded with a grant from Major League Baseball, said Jamie Morris, club resource and development director. Private donations would cover the remaining expenses.
"We're very confident in our ability to match that $75,000 if we are awarded that grant," Morris told the Parks Board on Wednesday.
The renovations would include improvements to the infield, mound, dugouts, the addition of public restrooms and possibly new lighting, Morris said. The Boys & Girls Club would be responsible for maintaining the field, but "in no way is expecting exclusive rights to this field," Morris said. "We understand that this is a city park."
Several parties have expressed interest in making donations, including the Tri-State Hot Stove League, Don Mattingly — the former New York Yankees standout and Evansville native — and Jamey Carroll, an infielder for the Cleveland Indians who played college baseball for the University of Evansville.
Morris said he plans to send a letter of inquiry to Major League Baseball and a proposal for the renovation. The grant is available through the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, which promotes and enhances youth participation in baseball and softball worldwide.
According to mlb.com, the fund awards an average of 40 grants each year worth more than $1.5 million total. The average amount is $50,000.
If the Boys & Girls Club receives the grant, renovations to the field could begin in September, Morris said.
The baseball field would be the latest in a series of major projects at Bellemeade Park. The Boys & Girls Club is building a $4 million facility at the park, which also is the site of a new $2.9 million city pool.
Both are scheduled to open this summer. "Those two pieces alone would make that piece of property a gem for the city," Morris said.
Parks Board President Steve Bohleber said the city has long attempted to create a youth-supported program at Bellemeade Park.
"We've been trying to do that as a Parks Department for more than 20 years," he said.
Board member Jerome Stewart also said he supports the conceptual renovation plan.
"I can't remember the last time that baseball facility was used," Stewart said. "That place has been dormant for a long time."