By Mark Ross
The Hope Fair Park Legion Field is getting a makeover. Recently the Hope City Board of Directors voted in favor for an agreement of maintenance on Legion Field between the City of Hope and the Hope Public School District. Hope Baseball Coach Eryn McCaslin is the coach in charge of all the improvements.
Coach McCaslin said, “There will be several phases of improvements over the next few years. The first phase will be redoing all the playing surface itself within the fenced in area.”
He advised the field has had a bad drainage problem in the past, as well as problems with the foundation of the dirt. “These two problems keep us from being able to practice on the field when it’s wet, and we must resort to practicing in our indoor facility at the high school, “McCaslin said.
They will be grading, bringing in new topsoil and leveling the field properly. The outfield and infield will have all new drainage and they plan to build the infield back up and place a S.F.A coat on the infield. The S.F.A coat will allow moisture to soak in quicker than regular dirt.
McCaslin went on to talk about how they are going to build up the pitching mound to regulation like Razorback Baum Stadium, redo all the bases and re sod with Bermuda Grass. McCaslin said, “By the time we get done, we are going to have a field similar to a college baseball field.”
The field work is being done by Athletics Field Services and Sherwood Lawn Services. McCaslin stated, “Now having the right equipment and day to day maintenance they will have a nice surface that the kids should be proud to play on.” With this work, the Bobcats will have less rain-out games and more on field practice time.
The team now has a baseball field quality roll out tarp to protect the field from rain prior to games. McCaslin is hoping it will give the team a more competitive advantage in winning games. He stressed that he wants the kids and the community to get more involved in Hope Bobcat Baseball.
McCaslin has plans for several other improvements. Next up, getting the dugouts redone and go to a more open face dugout. He said, “The next priority is replace the back stop netting, its old and dry rotted. It is just in real bad shape and needs replaced.” The goal is to get it back flat and safe for the fans sitting behind it. After that, he wants to improve the fan seating, like Ladycat field, with stadium seating. Along with with those improvements, he also would like the team to have locker rooms. Presently the team dresses out at the Hope High School locker room and then they are bused over to the Fair Park Legion Field prior to a game.
McCaslin said, “With all these improvements Hope could start hosting district and possibly state high school tournaments.” He went on to say, “The most costly improvement will be the lighting. All the lights are outdated, and the lights bulbs are no longer available. At this point, if very many more bulbs go out, the team will have to resort to day games only. I was told Legion Field was installed in the early 70’s and not much has been done over the years. I want to thank Coach Turner, Hope Public School Board and the City of Hope Board of Directors for the opportunity to be able to make these improvements.”