The idea becomes a reality

Published 11:35 am Monday, May 15, 2006

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Niles High School varsity baseball coach Mike Vota wasn't sure what to think when Lonnie Ali came up to him at Champs Field a few years ago.
Vota thought it was a great idea, but wasn't too sure when it was going to happen.
Not too long after that, a man approached Vota at the ballpark, which also caught him off guard.
After that day, Vota, along with school officials and Muhammad and Lonnie Ali, were able to hook up with mutual contracts through the Detroit Tigers.
Ilitch Charities for Children presented the school with a $55,000 check, which went toward in-ground dugouts, field fencing, a scoreboard and a windscreen. The donated funds were generated through the Detroit Tiger's hosting of Major League Baseball's 76th All-Star Game. Major League Baseball provides a portion of the ticket receipts from All-Star Workout Day to the host club so they can contribute to local charitable organizations and communities.
Other donations from the Alis, the Watsons and many other local companies and individuals brought the grand total to around $150,000.
The field appears to be finished, but according to Vota, it is not yet completed. Bleachers, restrooms, a concession stand, a pressbox and a brick walkway will conclude the project in the near future.
The renovation project started in 2004, when Vota and some of the high school players began tearing down the old fencing. After that, things got rolling and the field was just recently finished.