If You Build It They Will Come
story: Kerri Regan
Redding Community Baseball Field project
Ball players? Check. Fans? Check. Land? Check. Now the Redding Community Baseball Field project just needs folks to step up to the plate and write a check.
An alliance of local businesspeople, baseball enthusiasts, Simpson University and the nonprofit organization Add Some Color is working to build a regulation baseball field and stadium at Simpson University. The 900-seat stadium would be Simpson’s home field, and would also host American Legion games, local and regional high school baseball playoffs, camps for aspiring young ball players and much more, said committee member and local businessman Boyce Muse. It would also be a boon for the Redding Colt .45s, a Minor League-style community-based program.
When the field is done, Simpson and Redding Recreation will provide low-income, at-risk youth ages 6-16 with an opportunity to participate in organized, week-long baseball camps. Simpson ballplayers would be the youth’s mentors, teaching principles of character and leadership along with America’s pastime, organizers say.
“We think we can bring 400 or 500 youngsters into baseball camps who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to pay for them,” Muse says. “And as this program grows, our local kids who are really good might want to stay home and play for hometown crowds instead of leaving town.”
The donated stadium, valued at more than $2 million, was formerly used in Vacaville. It was dismantled, moved to Redding and will be rebuilt at Simpson, which is less expensive and faster than building a new field. Fundraising is now under way for the cost of reconstructing the stadium. The tobacco- and alcohol-free facility would bring dollars into the North State’s economy through tournaments, baseball clinics, training camps and new talent drawn to the area, organizers contend.
“Summer collegiate ball can bring in 800 to 1,000 people a night. If we can do that here, we can make money for our nonprofit organization, and it will in turn fund youth organizations around the county,” Muse says. Among the effort’s many supporters are former Major League players Mark Parent, Greg Cadaret, John Strohmayer and Rick Bosetti.
Shasta County is home to several small- and mid-sized fields, and high schools provide some access to their fields. Big League Dreams’ four mid-sized fields and semi-full-sized field are available for a fee. Tiger Field is the only full-sized baseball field available without a charge, organizers said.
So far, they’ve raised about $850,000 in cash and donations. Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association’s charitable organization, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, donated $100,000 to help with the cost of site work, grading, tree removal and site preparation. This grant was quite a coup – the Baseball Tomorrow Fund receives about 500 applications each year from groups looking to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball throughout the world.
But to make the project happen, they’re seeking another $1.3 million from the community. Two sizeable fund-raising events are planned in months to come, including one in April at Big League Dreams (check next month’s Enjoy for details). If there’s enough money in the bank, they plan to break ground in May 2011.
“It will be good, clean, family entertainment,” Muse says. “There is no downside to this.”