Ballpark almost ready for seasonPublished 10:42am Monday, March 25, 2013
Eclectic’s Aaron Park has received a major facelift over baseball and softball’s offseason, and the progress is likely to continue right up until the first pitch of the Eclectic Youth Ball Organization’s 2013 season.
Funded by a $250,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, new sidewalks now criss-cross the ballpark. Information and weather warnings can be announced using a new public address system and families can take a break from the sun under a new picnic pavilion.
The grant also funded a retaining wall to hold in place the steep grade from the softball field to the lower baseball field.
Much of the labor was performed by volunteers and players’ parents, as part of the “in-kind match” where EYBO volunteers performed the labor instead of paying 20 percent of the grant.
EYBO President Rich Ryals and an the dedicated volunteers were so cost-conscious on the project that they came back about $4,000 under budget. So with the town council’s approval this month, they began planning to build a second picnic pavilion. It will be adjacent to the lower field, to give fans of the big boys’ baseball teams a place to sit in the shade while they watch the games.
The last of the sidewalks will be poured this week, Ryals said, and work on the new pavilion will begin soon.
The big official unveiling will be April 13, Opening Day in Eclectic. The day will begin at 9 a.m. with the traditional parade through downtown to Aaron Park.
Mayor Michael Holton, a longtime baseball parent and one of the league’s volunteers, said he hopes to see “a great crowd.”
“I want the sidewalks filled for the parade, to show all the kids how much we support them,” he said.
Opening Day ceremonies will follow at the ballpark, with the league anxious to show off the much-needed improvements that were made.