Officials hope public will fund new ball fields at Tecumseh High School
By MICKEY ALVARADO
Donations from the public totaling $1,100 were enough to get the ball rolling on the construction of a baseball field at Tecumseh High School beginning the weekend of April 14, with tilling of an existing practice field.
Plans for new sport facilities were solidified after the high school was moved from the old middle school to its new location. Since then Indian Stadium was added with an artificial field to accommodate football, lacrosse and some soccer competitions. Plans also called for a soccer field on real turf, which has been upgraded to competition level and is currently being used.
Indian Stadium also has a competitive track, which allowed competitions to be moved from the old middle school location to the high school.
The baseball and softball fields are the last phases of the plan for the high school facilities, according to Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Casey Randolph. While the donations coming in aren’t enough to build a competition grade baseball field for Michigan High School Athletic Association games at this time, the funding is being used to improve the baseball field for practices.
The Indians have three baseball teams and two softball teams, which creates a problem for practices when a home game is played on the existing competitive fields. As well, hosting tournaments is problematic with the softball teams using both Tate Park in Clinton and Mitchell Park in Raisin Township for multiple team game scheduling.
Currently the only regulation varsity baseball field in Tecumseh is at the middle school. Randolph said Tecumseh is the only school in the Southeastern Conference that has just one baseball or softball field. When those fields are in use, other teams have had to use facilities including Cal Zorn Park on the south end of the city.
“When they did the site plans originally for the high school there was supposed to be a softball and a baseball field on campus,” said Randolph. “But funding wasn’t there, and still isn’t there, so a group of parents are starting a fundraising effort to renovate an existing field.”
A chain link fence backstop was already in place behind a shoddy ball diamond however the field was not in good enough shape to use for quality practices.
A letter was sent out to the public by the group calling itself Friends of Tecumseh Baseball and Softball, in partnership with the Indian Fan club, asking for donations. The letter asks that checks be made out to the Tecumseh Indian Fan club-Field Project. Donors may specify what the funds are earmarked for.
Randolph said financially Tecumseh Public Schools are not able to nor do they plan on funding the project at this time.
“Zero dollars are coming from Tecumseh Public Schools,” said Randolph. “It’s all a fundraising effort. Some checks have come in so they’re starting to do some work.”
Randolph pointed to other areas in the county where facilities were created entirely by donations and volunteer work and said the group hopes to rally the community around the project. He said the work that has been done to the baseball field at the high school was entirely from volunteer labor.
The fundraising group is headed by Tim Vannatter, one of the organizers of the Indian Stadium concession stand project, which also relied on the community for a large amount of donations.
“Tim Vannatter has done a lot of work when he was involved with the Tecumseh Area Little League in renovating and building some of those fields,” said Randolph.
Phase one of the project is to get the ball fields usable for practices by grading, adding irrigation and drainage, concrete work, infield surface, seeding and fencing. However each and every phase relies on donated funding so there is no timeline for completion. The group would like to at least have the baseball field ready for practices by next spring.
There is no set amount targeted for the projects, which ultimately could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for competition grade baseball and softball fields. The estimated budget to complete Phase one for both fields is approximately $77,000.
“Right now they’re working on possibly getting some donated sprinkler heads. That would save several thousand dollars,” said Randolph. “There’s not a number earmarked, this is what it’s going to take, because of being completely volunteer. We’re not putting a price tag on it.”
Phase two of the baseball field project is adding dugouts/storage, scoreboard and PA system. Phase three would add seating while Phase four would be adding restrooms and concessions. Randolph said a press box might also be added and centrally located for use on different fields.
“That’s so far down the road and is kind of pie in the sky at this point,” said Randolph. “But the plans are in place and approved by the state which allows us to do this. Basically we’re altering an existing structure.”
Donations may be sent to: Tecumseh Indians Fan Club-Field Project, 760 Brown St. Tecumseh MI 49286.