Column: Help Niles build a new ballpark

Published 4:18 am Friday, October 8, 2004

By Staff
In late August, Niles hosted the Babe Ruth 15-year-old All Star Ohio Valley Regional tournament. Nearly 1,000 players, families and fans from 10 teams across seven states spent a few days, and their money, in our fair city.
The tournament was widely viewed as a success. Not only did the many visitors bolster Niles' economy, it also brought a small slice of fame to our city by showing people all across the Midwest what a beautiful and friendly city we have.
Thomas Stadium is a gorgeous ballpark. Many of the fans at the Babe Ruth tournament said it was one of the finest little league fields they'd seen. The stadium has that ability to draw little league tournaments to Niles, which benefits the entire city.
Now, with Niles High School working to construct a brand-new ballpark, similar in style and aesthetics to Thomas Stadium, the city could have two top-class stadiums by the spring baseball season.
In September, the Vikings unveiled their plans for a new stadium to be built where the school's current field stands. Niles athletics director John Danaher and head baseball coach Mike Vota envision the new field in the mold of Thomas Stadium - a state-of-the-art ballpark that will host many tournaments, not just high school games.
The school is currently embarking upon fundraising efforts to get the ball rolling on construction. In order for the new park to be ready for play by April, construction will have to begin by the end of October, Vota said.
This is a project that the people and businesses of Niles and surrounding communities need to get behind and support. Not only will it benefit the baseball players of our community, but it will bring in money and people the way Thomas Stadium has done.
Danaher said he can see Niles' new stadium hosting four or five tournaments a summer. He said it will bring income to the city and incorporate all the surrounding states and little leagues.
The economic benefits of another top-of-the-line ball field in town are obvious. When people come to town for a weekend, they are going to spend money at local business.
Besides hosting little league tournaments, Vota said the new field will be available for use by local little league teams as well. He sees the new diamond as an opportunity to further increase the community's awareness and love of baseball.
However, the new park will be good for the economy in other ways.
Because the new field will be funded entirely by private donations, and a generous $100,00 gift from Niles Junior Baseball, the school doesn't have to use the lowest bidding company for construction. Instead, Danaher said Niles hopes to keep all the work local by using contractors from the community.
But for this project to get off the ground, it needs support. Niles' baseball team is selling bricks that will be place in the stadium's walls to people as a fundraiser. Buy a brick, and your name will be engraved on it and put in the wall for everyone to see as long as it stands.
While buying a brick helps, Niles is going to have to sell a ton of them to reach its $100,000 goal. So, it needs supplemental donations from business and the Niles community. Danaher said he's even open to the idea of naming the field after someone if they want to buy the naming rights.
Business can do their part to help, too. If a company doesn't have the fiscal ability to write a check, donating building materials is another perfect way to help the stadium get its legs.
Whether it's $5 or $1,000, every bit of assistance helps. Niles new ball park, combined with Thomas Stadium, will do wonders for the city and it deserves as much community support as it can get.