Park City’s baseball and softball teams push for turf field |

Park City’s baseball and softball teams push for turf field

Miners run $2.75 million fundraising campaign

An aerial view of the current baseball and softball fields along with the auxiliary field in between. The baseball and softball teams are raising money to build turf fields.
David Jackson/Park Record

Park City High School’s baseball and softball teams are raising funds for their own Field of Dreams, only with more turf and fewer cornstalks.

Both teams are looking to turn their current fields into turf fields. The cost is significant – the teams are looking for $2.75 million – but with it comes hopes of growing the game, leveling the playing field and improving the lives of the teams’ student-athletes. The project would also include the auxiliary field adjacent to the baseball and softball fields.

Park City baseball coach David Feasler, who graduated from PCHS in 2010, said that a turf field for the baseball team had been discussed since he was a student.

“I am thankful for the group of parents and community members organizing this effort to fundraise and make a strong push for turfing our baseball/softball facilities,” Feasler wrote in an email. “Turfing baseball/softball would allow us more home games and practice time. Field maintenance and water costs would both go down significantly. There are plenty of benefits to making the move to turf, as many other school districts are recognizing. I think our turf campaign has some momentum, and we can make it happen.”

With its current fields, both teams must wait until the snow melts to begin practicing outside, let alone play home games. Even with a milder winter than usual, the baseball team’s home opener was on April 1 this past season – its 10th game of the year. The Miners feel they are at a disadvantage compared to other teams because practicing indoors isn’t the same as training on their own diamond.

Rick Farnell serves as director of the Park City Miners Baseball Foundation, and his son, Jake, pitches for the baseball team. He understands the issues that Jake Farnell and his teammates have to deal with playing baseball in Park City.

“We can’t play on it for the first month and a half of our season because we’re melting snow,” Rick Farnell said. “We have to rely on indoor facilities as best as we can… or go down to Salt Lake City and practice with other teams.”

There are also issues with academics. With so many road games to start the year, players on both teams are missing out on school to travel. Between the travel to and from the game and the game itself, there’s not much time left for homework, either.

“For most games that we travel, the girls are getting dismissed from school at 1:15, and we’re not getting home until 8:30, 9:00 at night,” Park City softball coach Lindsay Cunningham said. “And that’s hard because they’re missing those classes every single week. In our first seven weeks, we were on the road. So, twice a week, they were missing those later-in-the-day classes.

“It’s just hard and not academically fair to the players versus players of all the other sports that have the ability to play at home and not travel as much.”

Cunningham grew up playing softball in Arizona, so she’s used to the idea of year-round softball. To start the year training indoors and not on a traditional softball field was completely foreign to her. While she’s thankful that the team can use Basin Recreation, it’s not the same.

“The first time we stepped foot on dirt and were able to put out a full team was at our first game,” she said. “And that just makes it really hard. I also think that baseball and softball could grow so much more in this community if we had the proper field. Because it’s really hard to get people excited about a sport that most of the year, we can’t be outside playing Park City because of where we live.”

Park City’s softball team faces its own challenges, but the field situation doesn’t help, either. The Miners didn’t play a home game until April 21 this year, which hurts Cunningham’s ambitions of fielding a competitive team.

“Right now, our school is at such a disadvantage, and these kids aren’t having equal opportunities as other kids because of where we live,” Cunningham said. “It’s impossible for us to practice and get the reps that these other schools are getting at this altitude without turf. Right now, our field was open this year on April 18, and our season started March 1. And so, we were six weeks into this season – and it’s not even a long season – before we were ever able to step foot onto our field.”

Other benefits the foundation cited included needing less water and maintenance. Both teams are also hoping that a turf field will encourage more kids to want to try baseball or softball and grow the sports in the community.

Rick Farnell didn’t divulge how much money has been raised so far, but he’s encouraged by the early results.

“I’d say we have a really good start,” he said. “I think we have a really good start to the campaign since we started in January.”

There are still some details to hammer out, like if the whole field is going to be turfed or if it will be a combination of dirt for the infield and the pitcher’s mound and turf for the rest of the field. Rick Farnell said he’s hoping to have the fundraising completed as soon as possible so that the turf fields will be ready for next season.

“We’re willing to be creative,” he said. “If it’s a phased approach for baseball, then softball, then another field, we’d be happy with moving forward in that direction. But I think the grand ambition would be all three fields.”

Jess McCurdy is in charge of communications and fundraising for the foundation and added that the foundation is hoping to secure the bulk of the funds that it needs through grants. She said that the foundation has hired a freelance grant writer to help with that effort. Those who are interested can also donate on the foundation’s website.

“(Grants are) where we’re going to get the bulk of the money,” she said. “Not to say that we haven’t had a handful of private donations, which is wonderful and we’re still looking for that. We just know that, unless a big donor comes in from the community, most of the money is going to be from grants.”

McCurdy added that this project will benefit more than just high school athletics. The fields could be used by other sports or rented out with minimal concerns.

“I think our goal is to just raise community awareness as well, not just within the baseball community, but within Park City,” McCurdy said. “This is a project that we’re working on and a goal for the community.”

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