Jackson officials expected to clear way for new baseball field

Monday, March 6, 2006

Preliminary plans for a first-class baseball field in Jackson's Brookside Park are expected to be approved by the board of aldermen at its regular meeting today.

The new field, which is expected to be completed next summer, is being partially funded by former St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog.

Proposed plans for the field include a covered grandstand, two sets of 70-seat bleachers, bathroom facilities and a concession stand and two parking lots for up to 250 cars. The 400-foot field will lie directly behind the Brookside Park war memorial.

The estimated cost of the new baseball field will exceed $200,000. Herzog, who has a foundation that helps fund baseball fields for young people, has already donated $25,000 to the project and has pledged to contribute another $25,000.

Jackson Mayor Paul Sander said the proposed location of the field is in a prime spot. Not a lot of initial dirt work will be needed for the construction and the site will tie into an existing roadway, making the war memorial and baseball field easily accessible, Sander said.

The next step is to get an engineering estimate of the dirt work costs, said Jackson Parks and Recreation director Shane Anderson. "If we're going to play in 2007, then we'll need to get going on the initial dirt work of the field," he said.

The city does not have funding in its budget to construct the field but will provide the initial engineering and surveying of the site. The remainder of the funds will come from various fund-raising projects and donations.

Herzog will be in Cape Girardeau on March 25 to help raise funding for the new field, said Jack Litzenfelner Sr. of Jackson. More details about the event have not been finalized.

"He basically said he'd come down as many times as we need him," Litzenfelner said about Herzog. Litzenfelner played minor-league baseball with Herzog in the 1950s and developed a friendship with the former Cardinals manager. Last summer, Herzog visited Litzenfelner and discussed Jackson's need for a new baseball field.

More fund-raisers will be planned by the Brookside Park baseball committee members later this month, Anderson said.

Although he hasn't seen the preliminary plans of the baseball field, Litzenfelner said there's been good cooperation from the city.

"I know it will be a great asset and a lot of generations will be able to use it," Litzenfelner said.

Currently the only baseball field in Jackson that accommodates baseball players, ages 14 to 19, is the American Legion field in City Park.

Sander envisions the Brookside Park baseball field will provide the opportunity for more baseball programs and tournaments to be held in Jackson.

"There are still a few details to work out with the field, but we have the general concept of what we wanted to do," Anderson said. "Overall we're really happy with it."

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

WANT TO GO?

* What: Jackson's Board of Aldermen meeting

* When: 7:30 p.m. today

* Where: City Hall, 101 Court

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