Park City baseball won’t see a new field next season as district’s master planning continues
Park City High School’s baseball team spent a lot of time on other teams’ diamonds this season. It didn’t get a home game until mid-April, so deep was the snow on the grass fields.
Students, parents and coaches are tired of the situation.
They want a turf field. One that can be plowed, and that can be played on more quickly after rain.
But that won’t happen until the Park City Board of Education makes a final determination on the master planning process it began last year. The uncertainty surrounding the fields has lingered for years, as the district has been engaged in discussions about facilities in some form or another since 2014 without resolution.
“We feel like we are really in limbo,” said Rick Farnell.
Farnell and Britta Mobley are local baseball organizers and parents — two among a large group of families who have grown tired of seeing the baseball team struggle with field issues.
Mobley is the mother of Max Mobley, who played baseball over his time as a Miner before graduating this spring, and Paxton Mobley, who will join the Miners as a freshman next season.
“Oh, it’s so stressful,” Britta Mobley said of the lack of home games. “You balance it. You find a way to make it work. But from a family perspective, it effects the whole family.”
The varsity baseball team played 9 “home” games on other teams’ soil this spring, and typically missed at least one academic period due to traveling for each game.
“It’s definitely not helping the academic side of it,” Max Mobley said. “And it’s definitely not great when you’re prepared to block out those two days a week or one day a week when you have to travel because you get back at 10 or 11 at night. There’s not a lot of time for homework there. When that turns into three days a week, it becomes a lot more strenuous on your time to work.”
Max Mobley said the toll is especially high for younger athletes, who are not only just getting into the high school system, but are often playing on multiple Miners teams: freshman/junior varsity and varsity.
“If there was a freshman or JV game on a different day of the week, they would play in those as well,” Max Mobley said. “I know it puts extra stress on them. I know that type of person who’s on both rosters, it really hurts them.”
As an outfielder, the lack of an outdoor playing field in the early spring also hurt Max Mobley’s game. The team didn’t have an outside practice until the week of its first home game, meaning the first fly ball he saw this year was in the season opener.
The ability to practice outside year-round may not ever be possible for a team based in Park City because of the cost of plowing snow off a field — this year it was prohibitive enough to keep the track team from hosting a home meet, because snow remained piled in the end-zones on Dozier Field. But parents and players say a turf field would allow the team to practice more during the winter, and play earlier in the spring. A longer season certainly helps teams farther south, in warmer climes. The last time a northern Utah team won the title in Park City’s class was in 2014, when Grantsville defeated Desert Hills. Since then the only teams to even reach the finals have been Dixie (St. George), Snow Canyon (St. George), Desert Hills (St. George), Pine View (St. George) and Cedar (Cedar City).
Britta Mobley said she has brought the issue before the Board of Education, which has been “happy to listen” but reluctant to say when it will make a hard decision on the district’s plans.
Britta Mobley said she has gone to several public meetings and presented the Board with a petition of upwards of 100 baseball parents asking for a new turf field. And the Board recognizes that need, said President Andrew Caplan, but it’s no reason to rush such a large process that will affect the education of every student who goes through the district’s schools. “We are looking at every facility we have, including the high school and there’s big changes,” Caplan said. “And we are not going to make a decision on what the high school looks like because we’ve put a baseball field in. It’s just not a responsible use of tax dollars.”
Those decisions include what to do with ninth-graders, who currently attend Treasure Mountain Junior High. There has been strong support for moving ninth-graders into the high school, which would require a new facility or expansion of the current building. Both options could affect the location of the baseball field.
“Toward the end of the calendar year, we are hoping to have a consensus with the community in terms of what we want the high school to look like going forward and what we want the rest of our educational facilities looking like going forward in the next 10-20 years,” Caplan said.
He added that the decision on where a baseball field would go won’t likely be settled for at least another six months.
“I know it’s disappointing for the families and the students who want to have a new baseball facility by next spring but that’s just not going to happen,” he said.
He said the families have the option of talking to Basin Recreation or Park City Recreation about building a new field, since those organizations’ sole responsibility is to provide recreation, and all three public entities are in a facility use agreement that would allow the high schoolers (and other teams) to use the field.
“But if they are just going to rely on the district, then they are going to have to wait until we are at a point where we know what is going on with the high school,” Caplan said. “And that is at least another six months away.”
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