Ali to help dedicate Niles’ ‘field of dreams’

Published 11:06 am Friday, May 12, 2006

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The newly renovated Niles High School baseball field will celebrate its makeover with a dedication ceremony and three-game tournament on Saturday.
Events are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., and will include remarks from Muhammad and Lonnie Ali and various corporate and community organizations involved with the project.
The restoration project was made possible in part by a generous donation from the Alis and Ilitch Charities for Children (ICC), a non-profit foundation of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., which is headquartered in Detroit.
The donations helped purchase and construct in-ground dugouts, field fencing, a scoreboard, a windscreen and additional turf at the regulation field. Bleachers for the park will also be purchased.
The donated funds from ICC were generated through the Detroit Tiger's hosting of Major League Baseball's 76th All-Star Game at Comerica Park in July 2005.
Vota said that projects on the field are yet to be completed, as the school would like to add restrooms, a concession stand and a press box.
Before the renovations, the baseball field was occasionally used for baseball practices, with all of the high school games being played at Thomas Stadium. Vota said renovations got rolling in 2004, when the old fence surrounding the field was removed. Architects drew up plans, the school got state approval and away the project went.
Vota stated that tournaments will be played at the new field during the high school season and also in the summer, using the field in conjunction with Champs Field, which is located in between Howard and Ellis Elementary schools.
Events for the morning will include the opening ceremonies, where an introduction of the honored guests will be held and the guests will then comment on the field.
The special guests will then throw the first pitches, which will be followed by an introduction of past players and the current Niles baseball team.
All three youth baseball leagues - Howard Township, Niles FOP and the Greater Niles Baseball League - will then be introduced as the future players of the Niles area.
A tournament is also scheduled to begin at noon (weather permitting), where the Counterpoints will sing the National Anthem before the start of the games.
Niles will take on Coloma for the first game and Coloma will play Muskegon Reeths-Puffer at 2:30, followed by the Vikings and Muskegon at 5 p.m.
If the weather does not cooperate, events will take place in the high school gym. This event is open to the public and all former Niles baseball players are invited to join in on the dedication.