Opinion: Time needed to develop long-term plans for softball fields

Published 10:10 am Sunday, June 2, 2024

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Recently, the Dallas County Board of Education has discussed building two new softball fields at Keith and Southside high schools along with helping Dallas County High School get a lighting upgrade to their existing on-campus field.

The amount that has been budgeted for this year for capital improvements is around $650,000 for all three projects. One thing that is certain, this is not going to be enough funding to do all three projects at the level that they need to be done.

When building athletic facilities, $300,000 won’t go as far as you think it will. Since the district already has a standing contract with an architect, you would not have that expense included in the cost of the project. It might be able to get you a basic ballfield, but you’re likely not getting things like a press box, restroom/locker room facilities or lights.

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As the Bible says, the board should count the cost of the project so that you will know if you can finish the project. It may have to be done in phases. Step one might be to build the field with an irrigation system. That field could be used for practices while games would still need to be played off-campus.

Then, the next phase would be to be able to do proper dugouts with a basic locker room, dugouts and bleachers. The next phase could be to add a press box, concession stand, restrooms and lights.

Over the course of 2-5 years, you would be adding on to eventually get you to the place where you have a field you can be proud of. In addition to district funding, the schools could seek donations from businesses and individuals to help get to the next phase.

One other factor that should be considered is the upkeep factor of the fields. Can that be done by the coaches and volunteers? Will the district have to take it on? Would those additional expenses take away funding for bats, balls, helmets, uniforms, cleats, etc.?

If not already, all of those things should be considered well in advance before building a new field. It’s more than just a one-time expense. The facility must be maintained. Once that is studied, then you can decide whether to move forward with an on-campus field,

We would love to see each of the schools have their own on-campus field for softball, but you must plan and make policies for the future to make sure that this field stays “state-of-the-art” as board members have suggested it should be.