With a goal of new softball and baseball fields on the high school campus, a fundraising push has begun in Swanton. The Bulldogs currently play at Memorial Park on village-owned fields.
To many, new fields are long overdue. They were included in some plans for the high school, which opened in 2003, and the current fields are missing key features.
Unlike other high school baseball fields in the area, Swanton’s field does not have an outfield fence or a grass infield. Accessibility is also an issue.
“I think as long as I’ve been in Swanton now, 20-plus years, watching my own children play on the fields downtown, the constant refrain has always been, ‘we should have our own baseball and softball fields,’” said Superintendent Chris Lake.
The Swanton Baseball & Softball Complex Committee has drafted and sent letters to community members and has a fundraiser presentation ready to share.
“Our goal was to get in front of some folks, and kind of make that pitch, and get some of that support coming in,” said Lake. He added that the letters have already led to some donations.
A variety of support levels are offered for potential donors. They start with the White Tier that includes donations of $100-$499 with the donor name on a plaque at the field. The highest levels are over $100,000 and include field or stadium naming rights.
The committee consists of Lake, Swanton Middle School teacher Becky O’Shea, district resident Amy Remer, Swanton High School Baseball Coach Josh Siewert, and Athletic Director Wade Haselman. In addition to donations, they are seeking grant opportunities.
Lake said they have sought estimates on the cost of this project and based on the information collected, the district will need around $1 million dollars to install playable game fields. Adding a press box, bathrooms, field lights and other upgrades would cost additional money.
He said, for the time being, the goal for phase one is to raise the funds that will help to install playable game fields so that students will have a true home field to play on.
“Not that we haven’t appreciated playing on the fields downtown here that the village owns, but I think it’s something that if we have our own fields we can do a little bit more with them,” said Lake. “It’s something that a lot of people would like to do. It’s something I know I wish had been around when my son was playing ball.”
The current plan is for the fields to be located north of the practice soccer field on a nearly four-acre piece of land that is currently being farmed. The softball field would be first with the baseball field behind it, according to Lake.
Donations can be made out to Swanton Local Schools with “Baseball and Softball Complex” in the memo line and dropped off or mailed to the Swanton Board of Education, 108 N. Main St., Swanton, OH 43558.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010