Financing to make ballpark expansion possible.
A project that was started over a decade ago will have another chapter completed soon.
The Youth Sports Complex was originally planned to boast a baseball field and two softball fields that adhere to standards for set by the National Federation of High Schools, but due to budget constraints, those projects were abandoned.
Those fields will soon become a reality due to the city’s refinancing and extending of their bonds that will provide approximately $1.55 million for the project.
“I had been asked to bring this project up again,” said City Manager Jimmy Bolt.
“I talked to the board, and I gave them some numbers. We had some options to pay for it, but they opted to go with extending the loan.”
Additional funds have been obtained through State Representative Richard Womack to help fund the project, and State Senators Bruce Maloch and Larry Teague are also working to procure money for the project as well.
“We have been given $80–90,000 from State Representative Richard Womack,” said Ward 1 Director Jason Jones, who has been working with the project since the beginning.
“It looks like we will probably get some money from [state senators] Bruce Maloch and Larry Teague. There is some other grant money that we can apply for to do some extra things.”
According to an estimate from McClelland Consulting Engineers, Inc. for the probable construction cost for this phase of the complex provided by Bolt, the estimated price tag for the project is just over $1.7 million.
Jones noted that this project will benefit the school.
“The schools will definitely benefit from these fields,” he said.
“They are also contributing ideas to the build. They are contributing a good deal of money to make this more than just another municipal field.”
“The city is doing Parks and Recreation fields, and we are offering the high school upgrades,” Bolt noted.
“The high school wants to play there. They want steel panels instead of chain-link fence, and they want a dressing room.”
The proposed dressing rooms will be 15’x9’, which will allow for the players to change into their uniforms on site rather than travel to the field in uniform or change in the bathrooms.
In addition to the dressing rooms, there will be a concession stand and bathrooms added at the second pod where the new fields will be built.
“We have proposed upgrades to the dugouts to make them bigger and more player-friendly,” said Arkadelphia Badger head baseball coach Brant Matros.
“We want some upgrades on the field as well: the highest quality clay and the right quality of Bermuda grass.”
Matros also noted that he has requested a bigger outfield fence as well as some practice options.
“We want a bigger outfield fence, probably solid instead of chain-link. We also want some practice-type things: mounds, hitting stations, batting cages. We have to have those to have an effectual practice.”
While the size of the field has not yet been set, Matros said that he hopes for it to exceed 320 feet.
“I’m looking for over 325 feet,” he said.
“I want it to be 320–325 feet in the corners and 365 feet in the center.”
Jones also emphasized the fact that the school will not have the only teams on the fields.
“Their seasons end early compared with some of the others,” he explained.
“Babe Ruth and others can also use these fields. They are partnering with us.”
The project will also include paving and creating a concrete plaza as well as some landscaping.
“We will put in an plaza at the all-concrete fields,” Bolt said.
“The biggest part of [the project] is already done. The dirt work is already done. We will need to get irrigation, and I hope we can get the water department to put that in. We are going to try to save on some of the landscaping by doing some of it with Arbor Day.”
Some of the work for the project has already been completed.
“The removal of the gravel was done originally,” Bolt said, noting the $22,370 price tag in the estimate.
“The fencing will also be less than we expected.”
Maintenance for the fields will be split between the city and the school as well.
“We are going to keep up with the basic upkeep,” Bolt said.
“If they want the field dressed a certain way, that will be up to them. These fields are not dedicated for their use, but they can use them.”
The new facilities would be a big boon for the Badgers.
“We love the atmosphere we have created at Sturgis,” Matros said.
“A new facility gives us the opportunity to get something like that at the new site. If we do this right, this can be everything that Sturgis has
been for 50 years. If we get it right the first time, we can have this one for 50 years.”
Matros said that this also gives the school opportunities they do not have currently.
“It gives us the opportunity to bring in bigger teams,” he explained.
“We have had to travel to play some of the bigger schools because we don’t have the facilities. This will also give us the possibility to host
Arkadelphia Athletic Director Chris Babb agreed that this would be a good thing for the district.
“I’m glad that we will be able to partner with the city on what we plan on being a great facility for baseball and softball,” he said.
“This gets our teams together and gets the girls on a regular softball field.”
The city does not have a firm timeline set, but they hope to get the project coming along soon.
Bids for the fencing are set to be awarded on April 1.
“This is a long project,” Bolt said.
“We believe it will be ready in the spring for them to play on it. They will possibly be ready for fall ball.”
Bolt said that this project is a big one for the community.
“This is a big positive for our community,” he concluded.
“People will see this and want to be part of this community.”