MARION — In the world of sports, November usually is dominated by football and basketball. But for those with the Prospect Meadows project, baseball is on their minds.
Despite the chilly temperatures, crews with Prospect Meadows — planned as a 17-field baseball and softball complex — continued to work last week to prepare ball diamonds, lay turf and pour concrete at the site near County Home Road and Highway 13, north of Marion.
“It’s been going well,” said Jack Roeder, Prospect Meadows general manager. “The only downside that we’ve had has been the weather. That’s been a little bit stressful for everyone, but that being said, they’re making a lot of progress.”
Crews last week worked to complete the third of eight diamonds planned for Phase 1 of the project. A “Miracle Field” — a diamond with a rubberized surface and wheelchair-accessible dugouts so children with disabilities can play — also is included in the first phase, along with support buildings.
Roeder said the hope is to have the artificial turf for all eight fields finished this year, but some of that could take place next spring. Work on the dugouts for those fields — as well as concessions and maintenance buildings, press boxes and a front office and ticket windows — also is underway.
“It’s been exciting to see it actually transform from what you saw in the plans to what is being built out on the ground,” said Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn.
Phase 2 of Prospect Meadows, planned for a 2023 completion date, would add another eight ball fields.
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Roeder said Prospect Meadows has raised about $11.9 million of the project’s $13.6 million goal for Phase 1 construction costs.
Of the funds raised so far, about $5.8 million has come from public contributions and another more than $6 million has come in private funds, Roeder said.
He said the goal is to raise as much as possible before shifting away from fundraising and into normal operations.
“I believe we’ll continue to raise funds through the capital campaign up to the opening of the facility and then I think basically everything at that point will transition over to annual advertising,” Roeder said, adding that some advertising already is being sold.
To boost fundraising, Prospect Meadows officials earlier this month rolled out a new logo and donor wall, which was created in partnership with the Metro Area Rotary Clubs. The wall will include more than 600 inscribed baseballs in the shape of the state of Iowa — colored to match the American flag.
Roeder said rotary clubs already have sold 120 baseballs, with Prospect Meadows taking on efforts to sell the remaining baseballs.
Earlier this year, an independent Sports Facilities Advisory report of the Prospect Meadows Ball Fields proposal found that concession sales and commitments from Perfect Game, a baseball scouting service in Cedar Rapids, and event-management company Game Day USA of Naperville, Ill., make the project “feasible and demonstrates a strong likelihood for success.”
The report, which evaluated financial forecasts and visitors to Prospect Meadows, anticipate the facility would generate more than $325,000 per field in 2022 and about $300,000 per field in 2025.
The report noted $180,000 per field as the threshold for a top-performing field.
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Prospect Meadows officials have said Perfect Game already has guaranteed more than 1,000 teams a year for a 15-year-period. Game Day USA has pledged eight tournaments a year for a three-year period, Roeder added.
“We’ve got a lot scheduled already,” he said.
As long as work continues as planned, Roeder said Prospect Meadows will see its first of many pitches sometime in late spring or early summer next year.
As a parent of two ballplayers and longtime supporter of Prospect Meadows, Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson said he’s excited to see it come to fruition.
Both Oleson and Pluckhahn said there’s a possibility Prospect Meadows is just the start of additional opportunities in the area.
“If it’s very successful ... maybe this can become a recreational area,” Oleson said.
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