Free Lance Star Article by Robyn Sidersky
Sunshine Ballpark in Fredericksburg will host its first games March 24, officials with the park said this week. The park, which is affiliated with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, will have three fields and an Exploration Command Center.
The city and the Ripken foundation partnered in 2007 to build the youth baseball and softball complex in the Bragg Hill area.
The Ripken foundation is building youth baseball complexes in several cities, including Richmond, as part of its Swing for the Future campaign.
After the complex opens, it will be run by a newly formed local nonprofit organization called the Fredericksburg Area Youth Development Foundation.
The park is being paid for with $2.9 million that has been collected through private fundraising, said Chuck Brady, vice president of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. About $400,000 of that came from the city for park infrastructure and roads. Another $350,000 was contributed through in-kind donations to build the Exploration Command Center, the nonprofit immersion learning facility built next to the fields.
In 2008, local philanthropist Doris Buffett made a $1 million challenge grant that boosted fundraising.
Two of the fields—which are nearly complete—have artificial turf.
One of those fields will be an “ability field” for special-needs children. The field will accommodate wheelchairs. The turf on the ability field is 1 inches tall and is like a plastic carpet. The bases are even with the rest of the surface, as are the dugouts. The length of the field is 115 feet for right and left fields and 116 feet for center field.
Another field, called Griffith Field, has 1-inch artificial turf, and the field satisfies Babe Ruth baseball requirements. It’s 245 feet to left field, 260 feet to center field and 192 feet to right field.
Part of the reason for using artificial turf is to cut down on the cost of maintenance, said Bill Lynch, a member of the foundation’s Fredericksburg board of trustees.
The city will maintain the park after the first year.
The ballpark won’t just be for city residents—it will be regional and welcome residents from Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George counties as well.
The Griffith field will open for Little League for players on April 23, he said.
A third field, Ponce De Leon Field, will have real grass.
Sometime in mid-May, when all the construction is complete, there will be an opening ceremony.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413
Free Lance Star 2/22/2012
To link to the article on the web, click here.