Committee Plans for Fields, Tournaments

BLYTHEWOOD – Three members of the Blythewood Ball Field Committee met Tuesday afternoon at Town Hall to discuss plans for the proposed Bethel-Hanberry baseball/softball four-plex to be built next year on 8 acres behind Bethel-Hanberry Elementary School. Chairman Bob Mangone told Committee members Paige Brown and Ed Parler that negotiations are being finalized for the Richland County Recreation Commission to lease the acreage over a long term where it will spend $500,000 to build four baseball/softball fields. Use of the fields would then be contracted for by the Blythewood Baseball/Softball League. Construction on the proposed four-plex is expected to begin early next year and be ready for the spring season.

Mangone said he wants to be sure how much the Commission can build with $500,000.

“Will that cover everything – the fields, bullpens, restrooms, concessions, parking and all that we need?” Mangone wondered out loud. “Or will we have to go to the businesses or the Town Council for additional funds to complete the project properly?”

Mangone said it is the committee’s responsibility to come up with what Blythewood wants in the four-plex — field dimensions, architectural costs, etc. Then the Recreation Commission will build it. Mangone said he hopes to have the necessary information for the Commission in the next couple of months.

Mangone said he understands from the Blythewood Baseball/Softball League that the new temporary field prepared by the Recreation Commission behind the Blythewood Community Center will be used primarily for practice and that the girls’ softball teams and the boys’ baseball teams will share the three current fields at the Blythewood Park Recreation Center on Boney Road during the spring season and again for the fall season. Once the four-plex is finished, that will be the primary playing fields for the Blythewood softball and baseball teams, Mangone said, and the current three fields at the Blythewood Park Recreation Center will be used for practice.

Blythewood resident Brian Fisher who has 16 years’ experience as a travel ball coach and is the B-team baseball coach at Blythewood High School, presented information to the committee about the possibility of his newly formed travel ball company, Carolina Proving Grounds Athletics, hosting as many as 35 to 42 baseball tournaments at the four-plex on weekends throughout the year. He said the tournaments would bring families to Blythewood, which could translate into revenue for Blythewood businesses.

Fisher is currently developing a 2-acre private recreation/baseball training facility near the intersection of Highway 21 and Farrow Road, the former location of the Blythewood Best flea market. The facility will be membership-only for the families of Fisher’s travel ball team, the Longhorns, and will include a playground, basketball court, fitness center, full cardio room and track for the families of the players, as well as traditional indoor and outdoor baseball training facilities for the teams.

Time of the next meeting of the Ball Field Committee will be announced at a later date.