HUDSON – If all goes well, the Hudson High School softball team and the city’s youth baseball and softball teams will be playing in new facilities in spring 2021.
The Hudson Board of Education unanimously agreed to work with the Hudson Baseball Association on the funding for two new playing fields on the high school campus. It also approved a $320,544 contract with Hammond Construction for work to relocate the varsity high school softball field.
Under the agreements between the Hudson Baseball Association and the school district, the district will give land for new fields to the association so it can develop the facilities. The HBA then would gift back the fields to the school district.
"This is an exciting time for our facilities," said Superintendent Phil Herman. "Over the recent years, we’ve had the fortune in investing with community partners with our athletic fields. Our varsity softball field is not up to par with the rest of our athletic facilities."
Herman added that the land the two youth baseball fields were previously on are being used for the new Hudson Middle School. Herman added that with this arrangement, there would be no cost to the district; the funding would come from the HBA and other individuals and groups. The youth fields were used by organizations such as the HBA, the Hudson Diamonds and the ball teams fielded by the Hudson Kiwanis.
"Hudson Baseball Association is excited for the opportunity to develop a first-class facility to align with what has always been a first class organization," said Chris Prado, a former president with HBA who is heading up the ballfield project. "This will help develop players for years to come who ultimately will be playing at the Ball Park of Hudson for the high school team."
The HBA, which has about 170 Hudson families as members, has so far raised $60,000 and received $15,000 in in-kind services, Prado said. The total project cost is expected to be about $250,000.
"We recognize with the projects, funds going to middle school and renovations, it might be a couple years before could put together a project like this to replace fields lost," Prado said. "We felt it was important to step up and contribute. As we travel through Northeast Ohio, we see some outstanding fields and facilities, and we feel the Hudson Baseball Association should have the same opportunities and facilities to host home games in."
Steve Marlow, the director of operations for the schools, said the contract with Hammond’s for work on the varsity softball field includes relocating the varsity field to the area currently occupied by the junior varsity field. The renovations include new field drainage and irrigation, a masonry backstop, masonry dugouts, bullpens, bleachers, fencing and lighting conduit for future lighting expansion. Work on the field will start in the near future, with completion by fall 2020.
Chuck Schilling, the longtime baseball coach at the high school, said that while the current field was a nice facility, there were a couple of issues.
"It has one of the nicest playing surfaces, but the location of the current field makes hard to get to," Schilling said. "Also, it’s about 20 years old and it’s starting to show its age. Nordonia recently built a new field, and we are using that one as a model. Our goal is to build a premiere facility. It will be a place people will love to show up and congregate."
Marlow said that the two new youth baseball fields will be developed near the varsity and junior softball fields on the high school campus. These fields will include new backstops, dugouts, fencing along the base lines and outfield, re-grading, irrigation, and a concrete pad for bleachers.
The proceeds from the sale of the Hudson Elementary School will be used to finance the varsity field, Marlow said. Hudson Elementary School, which had been on North Oviatt Street, was closed in 2007, and the building was torn down in 2010. The area around the school is now greenspace. Hudson City Council paid $500,000 for the property from a $755,000 donation.
Prado said that the youth field for the 9- and 10-year-olds is the same dimension needed for softball, so the field could be used for the high school’s softball teams as well as youth play.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org