By Austin Metz
Editor in Chief
Grand Rapids Community College is now planning fundraisers to raise money to improve baseball and softball fields at Belknap Park.
“The moment we get the money in place we will begin the improvements,” said Athletic Director Charles Wells. “We are not 100 percent sure about the cost but right now the improvements are estimated to cost between 60-100 thousand dollars.”
The improvements are needed because of safety issues the old fields are causing and to bring the fields up to regulation.
“It’s a long time coming,” said GRCC Head Baseball coach Mike Cupples. “It’s a safety issue with the current portable dugouts that we have. We have to set up chairs in front of the dugouts because the current dugouts are only 18 to 20 feet wide.”
“With 35 to 40 players on the team, you just can’t fit them all in the dugouts,” Cupples said. “Someone was actually hit just last week in the leg by a line drive because they were sitting in front of the dugout.”
On top of the safety issues caused by the dugouts, Cupples also explained that the overall condition of the field is not where it should be.
“When it rains, all the dirt washes off the field and there are a lot of ruts on the actual playing field,” Cupples said. “There is also no warning track around the field and we would like to add grass to the field for when the wind picks up.”
Along with these issues to the baseball field, the softball field needs work to meet proper playing regulations.
“The softball field is not properly set up for a fast pitch softball game,” Wells said. “Currently, the distance of the mound is wrong for fast pitch which doesn’t meet regulations.”
The school is looking to raise the money by holding a golf outing or another type of fundraiser in order to make the appropriate changes.
“None of the money from the millage will be going to the improvements of the fields,” Cupples said. “The money will be raised by the athletic department and also from donations from donors and former athletes.”
The fields, which GRCC athletics have been using for over 40 years, are also used by the surrounding community which is another reason to make the improvements.
“We have been in partnership with Grand Rapids since the field was built,” Wells said. “Because the city is strapped right now they can’t do the improvements so we are going to help.”
Cupples said that there are plans for after the changes are made.
“We would like to bring some quality high school tournaments to the field and also begin to hold camps for inner city kids.”