Havre Daily News
Plans to revamp one of the Havre Men's Slowpitch Softball Association's two ballfields are progressing, and the club is asking the community to support its efforts - which members say will bring larger tournaments, and out-of-town dollars, to the city.
The association's board will meet next Wednesday to hammer out the details of a proposal to add a new sprinkler system, sod and new fence to the club's eastern field. Members also will consider enlarging the field.
The group is looking to improve its two existing fields, which are located south of town off Fifth Avenue. The city-owned fields were built in 1971. The outfields are now choked with weeds, the fencing needs replacing and the existing sprinkler system is on its last legs.
In the coming years the club hopes to expand the complex to four fields, which members say would bring large tournaments with dozens of competing teams to Havre. Those players would spend a hefty amount of money at local restaurants, hotels and other businesses, members have said.
About a dozen club members met with city Parks and Recreation Department maintenance supervisor Kris Bakke Wednesday night to discuss the improvements to one of the fields. Bakke said the materials needed to build the sprinkler system would cost between $4,600 and $5,400. He said the more than 55,000 square feet of sod would come in at about $9,800, including delivery. The price of a new fence is still an unknown factor. It varies based on the height and grade of material used. Some members suggested a fence as high as 12 feet in some places, and Bakke suggested a four-foot fence.
The club's members will donate their own time to build the new irrigation system, lay the sod and install the fence, association president Brett Antley said. Bakke said Havre Mayor Bob Rice will provide city equipment for the improvements once there is a “hard commitment” from members and the community to move forward with the project. Rice could not be reached for comment today, but has said the fields “deserve our consideration.”
Also on the table is a suggestion to enlarge the field by moving the infield and backstop to the south - a shift that would increase the distance to the home-run fence to an even 300 feet. The fence now sits about 270 feet from home plate. Perhaps the biggest question before the club is when to do the upgrade. The club may open its season using both fields and shut the east field down for repairs on June 1; it may start work on the field before the season begins; or it could wait until the season's end to begin the work, Antley said.
The club is reworking the signs that have lined the outfield fence for years. Sponsors can purchase a new sign for $300, and yearly renewal is $75. Tax-deductible donations also are accepted. Checks can be made out to the Havre Area Recreation and Parks Foundation at P.O. Box 231 in Havre.
Members will hold a meeting for team managers during the second week of April. The outlook for this year's season is good, Antley said. A few new teams will likely join the league, meaning it could have as many as nine teams, he said.
He and club member Ken Erickson said they'd like to see a team formed for younger men and high school kids.
“I'd rather see those young kids out playing ball than messing around with drugs,” Erickson said earlier Wednesday. He said he and his brother Dale, owners of E-1 Towing, would sponsor a team if some younger guys found a coach and got a team together.
Teams are made up of no fewer than 10 men. The fee to create a team is $750. Antley said sponsors are available throughout the community.