Region 8 town may wait another year to play ball at home

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

LEPANTO, AR (KAIT) – The boys and girls of summer may have to find another place to call "home" this upcoming spring. Officials in Lepanto told Region 8 News it may be another month or so before construction on a new sports complex is complete. Mayor Kevan Wright said the project is 80% complete, but it was expected to be finished last summer.

"We ran into weather problems right off the bat and it was just one thing after the other. We had a lot of rain. We were delayed once because of a fiber optic cable that ran across the field that no one knew about," said Wright. "By the time we got through the pretty weather in the summer with the delays, it started raining and so we've had to deal with that for the last year and a half."

Wright said voters approved a sales tax measure in 2007 to raise $1.56 million. In April of 2008, construction began on the $1.1 million facility.

"We were hopeful if the weather cooperated from that point on in January that we'd be looking at being able to something by the end of March, first part of April, and it's rained every week since or snowed every week since," said Wright.

Wright said a soccer field will be built after the project is finished. He said his top priority is finishing the parking lot.

"We've got to put up some more fencing. We've got to put up some more. We've got some lights we got to put on the field there. We've got several things in the works, but everything is hinging on the weather," said Wright. "The moisture content of the soil has to be watched before they can go in and pack it and all of that. Everything is depending on the water and the moisture and the weather right now."

The complex consists of one girl's softball field, two U-trip fields and one regular sized baseball field.

"I'm still optimistic about April. If we can get it started right now, here we are at the end of February, if we can get some good weather going, some things could still happen sometime in April," said Wright.

Wright said the complex will generate income for the city and local businesses.

"That's what we geared this thing for. We sized the fields and everything for tournament play. Everywhere I have seen tournaments take place and have talked to other mayors and council members and other people who are over sport complexes in various cities say there's a lot of money to be generated, not only for the city through concession sales and things like that, but for the whole community," said Wright.

"With the new sports complex, it's going to change things. We're actually going to be able to come home, play home games, generate revenue for local businesses really looking forward to it," said Kevin Truelove. "I go to a lot of tournaments with a lot of baseball and when you try to get into local businesses during those tournaments, I mean the quick marts, the fast food restaurants, everything is extremely busy."

Truelove has a 13-year old son who has played baseball in Lepanto his entire life. He's never played a baseball game in Lepanto.

"Because of limited space and so many teams and a large number of kids that participate in our baseball program, we actually have fielded teams that play every single game away. We have no home games," said Truelove.

Truelove and Wright said Bermuda grass planted in late 2009 may have been damaged in January's snow storms.

"It seems like we have been behind from day one. We were really looking forward to starting our season his year," said Truelove. "Now maybe this season will be in question."

©2010 KAIT

 All rights reserved.