The ball fields at McMinnville Center will be sporting a new look in the near future with a number of renovations.
City officials passed a resolution to spent $86,100 to renovate all seven ball fields. The measure passed unanimously by Mayor Jimmy Haley, Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Aldermen Jimmy Bonner, Ryle Chastain, Everett Brock, Mike Neal, and Steve Harvey.
Getting a facelift will be: Sam Martin at $8,495; Dottie West at $9,960; Jim Mansfield at $9,960; Hoover & Millraney at $8,495; Cat Walker at $10,405; Pete Holt at $9,770; and Edley Newman at a cost of $29,035.
At the meeting to answer any questions officials might have was Parks and Recreation assistant director Justin Scott.
“We are looking at renovating all seven fields that we have,” said Scott. “The work is going to be done on the infields, primarily, with the dirt and the lip that exists now by removing it.”
Newman questioned Scott regarding issues with the fields.
“I’ve gone out and looked at these fields at different times and some of these fields have chunks of concrete in them or asphalt,” he said. “Some of these fields are in pretty bad shape. Will this elevate that and drainage issues? Can you explain some issues that are out there?”
Scott says drainage is a real problem.
“If you went out there today and looked at it, you could put ducks on it and they could swim,” he said. “There are ponds on it. Basically, what they are going to do is come in and remove some of the infield dirt that’s there now and replenish that dirt with the right type of clay. Then bring in what they call a SAF coat, which looks like brick dust. They are going to place it on top of the clay.”
SAF coat is an infield topdressing that is aesthetically pleasing. It’s non-tacky, non-abrasive, and provides separation between the player’s feet and infield mix.
Elevation will be improved as well.
“The grade will be about half a percent, so water is going to drain into the outfield,” said Scott. “We shouldn’t have any drainage issues then, as long as we maintain those fields. We are working on getting the right type of equipment to maintain the fields correctly. We’ve testing some equipment that Toro and John Deere and other places have brought us that are designed for that type of work. We are going to move forward to try and get the right type of equipment to maintain these fields so they will be in perfect playing condition for our youth.”
Newman questioned if renovation of Edley Newman Field would remove the grass from inside the field and make it multiuse.
“Correct,” said Scott. “We are going to put portable mounds on all our fields. They will be more universal, so we can play girls, fast pitch, as well as kid pitch, on those fields. It will open us up to tournaments and different things we would like to see at our complex.”
Edley Newman is the only field with grass on the infield. Harvey questioned if there were any concerns with removing it “for baseball reasons” because younger players use the field and the grass slows down the ball when it hits the ground.
“It is the only infield with grass,” said Scott. “I have met with several in the community about our Babe Ruth League and that league had about 40 participants. Jeff McGee ran that league last year. This year it’s our league. He has handed it over to us. It’s a league that’s kind of dying out, the 13-15 year age group. We’ve gone back and forth on whether to keep the grass or not. If we don’t get a lot of participation on that field, then we can always come back and put down some sod on the infield.”
Winning the bid was River City Athletics out of Soddy Daisy. Renovation work is expected to begin in early February.