MARION — Prospect Meadows leaders are hoping to knock it out of the park Thursday during the baseball facility’s ribbon cutting.
The public will get its first chance to see the project — which has been about eight years in the making — at an open house at 5 p.m. Thursday with exhibition games beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The facility, at County Home Road and Highway 13, is set to open for competition later this month and will cater to both local leagues during the week and traveling tournaments on weekends.
Staff and crews are rounding third when it comes to the facility’s $14 million Phase I construction. The first quadrant of fields will be open Thursday, along with the Miracle Field, a field accessible to children with disabilities.
A second quadrant likely will open June 14, said Jack Roeder, Prospect Meadows’ general manager. Roeder got involved with the project nearly a decade ago after retiring as general manager of the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
A second phase is scheduled to come online in 2023 with two more quadrants. Roeder said an early cost estimate for Phase II is roughly $5 million, although construction costs could change by then.
“I think it lets everybody grow into it a little bit, which, which I think will be a good thing,” said Tim Strellner, vice president and chairman of the fundraising committee. “Financially, that was important, but it also gives us a chance to get up and running and learn and just be as top notch and as efficient as possible. Versus biting off maybe more than you know what you can chew right away, right?”
The primary tenant of the facility will be Perfect Game USA, a Cedar Rapids-based baseball scouting company. Roeder said the company has committed to bringing in 1,000 teams a year for the next 14 years.
“And the great majority of those teams will be coming in from outside the state of Iowa. So that’s where the economic impact really takes off,” Roeder said, adding that those tournaments often lead to multiple-day hotel stays.
Funding for the project has come from public and private coffers.
Local government entities, including Marion, Linn County, Cedar Rapids and the state, have committed about $6 million. Field naming rights a $1-per-year lease for the county-owned land from Linn County have also helped the project.
Private donors, including the Hall-Perrine Foundation, Hall & Hall Engineers, MUSCO Lighting and others, have pledged millions.
“We hope it grows the game of baseball and softball, and creates opportunity for our local youth,” Strellner said. “We’re huge on the things that kids learn and take away from playing team sports, that’s very important to us.”
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IF YOU GO
Where: Prospect Meadows, 1890 County Home Road, Marion
When: 4 p.m. Thursday ceremony and ribbon cutting; 5 p.m. public open house; 5:30 p.m. exhibition games.