From KY3 News:
U.S. Baseball comes to Ozark
What was once a big attraction for baseball lovers in the Ozarks has been sitting mostly unused for more than a decade.
“About 50,000 people drive by here daily on (U.S.) 65 and many of them wonder why the stadium is dormant,” said Mark Stratton, vice president of marketing for U.S. Baseball League. “It’s the proverbial diamond in the rough, no pun intended.”
The Ozark Mountain Ducks played in the stadium from 1999 until 2004. The Springfield Cardinals arrived in 2005 and the Ducks left the Ozarks. The stadium sat mostly empty, besides hosting a couple of concerts and a youth baseball league.
Now, businessman Jeff Williams has purchased the former Price Cutter Stadium and is breathing new life back into the facility.
“This week, crews are working to install turf. That’s a big chunk of the budget, costing right around a million dollars,” said Brad Beattie, general manager for U.S. Baseball League.
“There are three different grades of turf and what we are getting installed is the highest grade you can find,” said Beattie.
In the coming weeks, they’ll bring in an LED interactive scoreboard, and upgrade the fence that surrounds the ballpark. Crews are working around the clock to make sure it all gets done by spring.
“We’re going to be opening up the park with Drury on the 9th of April. We will have two-back-to back Saturday/Sunday games out here with Drury at the park. We’ll move from that to our crown jewel, if you will, which is our Show-Me Collegiate baseball league.,” said Beattie.
The league will feature local players, plus athletes from around the country. Managers say, once the ballpark is complete, collegiate players will have a chance to improve their skills and play in a professional environment all summer long while still maintaining their eligibility.
“We want to be the Cape Cod (League) of southwest Missouri, and that’s what we are trying to accomplish,” said Beattie.
This space isn’t just for baseball.
“You’ll notice we have three sets of bases out on the field. There is a 60-foot peg, a 70-foot peg, and a 90-foot peg,” said Stratton. “The 60-foot peg could be used for NCAA fast pitch softball. The 70-foot peg could be for a youth national tournament we are participating in. There’s a lot of things that can happen out here.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Managers say the stadium will be used for concerts, shows, corporate events, soccer, and even weddings.
“As we start getting organized and getting everything polished up the way we want it, I think the community will find there’s a lot of activities out here that they want to bring their kids to and participate in,” said Stratton.
You can visit the U.S. Baseball Facebook page for updates on the renovation.