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Archive for Saturday, June 6, 1992

CITY BALL FIELDS HAVE THE BASES LOADED

June 6, 1992

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Former Saturday Night Live star Garrett Morris could slip into an old character routine to describe one of the city's fastest-growing pastimes: "Baseball been bery, bery good to me."

Unfortunately, baseball and softball have been so good to Lawrence that organizers of the various children's and adult leagues have found a pressing need for more facilities for an ever-growing number of participants.

"We're totally to the limit in terms of the facilities that we are able to use," said Bob Stanclift, adult sports supervisor for the city's parks and recreation department, which sponsors adult softball leagues.

"I see everybody's programs growing, and I don't know what's going to happen," he said.

League organizers who sponsor team play in Lawrence are hoping to reach an agreement in which the city eventually will build more ball diamonds for a growing number of players.

"We're talking about quite a few diamonds in the next five to 10 years," said Fred DeVictor, director of the city parks and recreation department. "It will be a priority down the road."

DeVICTOR estimates that 12 or 13 more diamonds could be built in the next five to 10 years to accommodate new players in various leagues.

The parks and recreation advisory board will discuss a proposal that will include construction of new ball diamonds when it meets at noon Tuesday at South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass.

The meeting is open to the public.

City staff in April estimated that up to 17 additional fields would have to be built to meet current needs, but that number was reduced because of a mistake in projections, DeVictor said.

The estimated 12 to 13 new fields needed is based on the increased number of players, he said.

In 1988, for example, about 400 children participated in city baseball and softball leagues. This year, about 1,300 children are participating, he said.

THE ADULT city softball leagues also have mushroomed: The number of teams has risen from 210 two years ago to 250 this summer.

In addition, non-city-sponsored teams, such as the Holcom Amateur Baseball Assn. and the Douglas County Amateur Baseball Assn., have grown.

Marvin Bredehoft, a coach in the Holcom league, said only two fields at Holcom Sports Complex, 2700 W. 27th, are available for 24 teams in the league.

"We can only get in two games each night and we are filled," he said. "We can not even go out there and practice, we are so filled."

Bredehoft said scheduling is so tight that any rain delays can not be rescheduled.

"If we had some other fields, we could at least work out somewhere else," he said.

CHRISTY Humerickhouse, youth activities supervisor for the city, said, "I am in desperate need of fields. It's my personal opinion that my program would benefit."

DeVictor said the proposal to be presented on Tuesday, which eventually will go to the city commission for review, probably will include the completion and-or construction of a few ball diamonds on Youth Sports Inc. land just southwest of the city.

YSI, a non-profit amateur sports organization that provides facilities for youth baseball, soccer and football leagues, proposed in November that the city help complete lighting, water and other capital improvements for two of its baseball fields.

City officials were interested in the proposal, but only if the fields could be used for city as well as YSI leagues, DeVictor said.

"I think some of the concern was that if there was going to be city money used, the city wanted to be able to use some of those facilities," he said.

DeVICTOR said that two more ball diamonds could be built adjacent to the existing YSI diamonds, forming a clover leaf similar to that at Holcom complex.

Several more fields could be built on adjacent land, he said.

"Ideally, we'd like to have them all in one location."

The city in April estimated that the cost to complete the two existing YSI ball fields and build two others at the site would be nearly $2 million.

However, DeVictor said the cost may not be that high under the new proposal.

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