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February 11, 2013

THEIR DREAM OF FIELDS: Little League will partner with Floyd County on baseball diamonds

Organization moving forward with plans despite similar proposal by mayor

NEW ALBANY — Floyd County has agreed to partner with New Albany Little League to construct a new baseball and softball complex on a site near the Interstate 265 interchange along Charlestown Road.

New Albany Little League President Mark Boone announced at a press conference Monday that the organization will move forward with its plan even if the city pursues its own park.

Last month, Mayor Jeff Gahan introduced a proposal to build a new Little League facility — possibly at the former Hoosier Panel site off Silver Street — at an estimated cost of $5 million.

Boone said Monday it was New Albany Little League that first presented the administration with the idea of building a facility at the Hoosier Panel site, but that the organization viewed the property as too small.

New Albany Little League plays at fields off Mount Tabor Road, but the property has been widely seen as inadequate for the organization due to space and safety issues.

Boone said New Albany Little League has a purchase agreement in place with Northside Christian Church for the property, and the first phase of the project including land acquisition will cost $3.8 million.

The first phase of the plan would include six baseball fields, which is two more diamonds than New Albany Little League has. The second phase would feature the construction of four softball fields, and would bring the total project cost to $6 million.

“We think that this could not just be good for baseball, but we think it could be an economic driver,” Boone said, as he added Little Leagues typically bring 1,000 people to the park a week during the season.

Meeting with the mayor

Gahan met with Little League officials Sunday, and his administration issued a press release Monday citing his intention to move forward with the city’s project.

“In just over a month since the city began operation of its own city parks department, the plans of having a centrally-located facility for the children of New Albany to play baseball are nearing completion,” Gahan said. “We are eager to begin the discussion with the New Albany City Council about these new exciting quality-of-life projects.”

The administration pointed out the proposed New Albany Little League site is outside the city limits. However, the administration agreed to assisting in the permitting process if the organization moves forward with its plan.

Boone estimated the facility could be completed in two years depending on community support and the garnering of funding partners. He said New Albany Little League wouldn’t play on the city’s fields even if they’re completed first.

“We don’t think the city should have two baseball parks,” Boone said.  “We think we have a better plan,” he added, saying he though the county/Little League plan would also be more cost-effective.

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