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Field Of Dreams Upgrading Plans Include Artificial Turf

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The Farmville Herald

FARMVILLE – The fields are going to dream bigger.

Better.

And it will be real.

All except the grass.

The Field Of Dreams complex will receive artificial turf, according to Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates, as part of the renovations planned to be completed in time to welcome state tournament play next summer.

Operation of the complex is going to be incorporated into the Town's recreation department, too, Spates told The Herald.

“What we've decided to do is…hire Hurt & Proffitt and go ahead and get the plans and specifications done, go out on bid, and that way we'll probably do it in phases…” Spates said.

Town Council made the decision following a closed session meeting last week.

“I think everybody's agreed that the Field Of Dreams needs to be updated. It's a good economic tool. It brings a lot of people, a lot of people come in for tournaments and spend money and we feel we're in a prime spot being in the central part of the state,” he continued.

Artificial turf will be included in the face-lift.

“I think one of the key things is…Hurt & Proffitt was real big on artificial turf. And the thing with artificial turf is,” the town manager explained, “we can run the softball program on the same field….You started to see people going to artificial turf. It's a lot easier to maintain. The initial cost is more but…”

No buts were articulated.

The installation of artificial turf won't be the only alteration in the complex purchased by the Town from the Prince Edward Farmville Youth Association.

“The whole nature of the program's going to change because (it's) going to be done out of our recreation department, the Field of Dreams, where the Prince Edward Youth Association will still have use of the facility but it will be scheduled. They won't just be able to do whatever (they want),” Spates said.

“Nobody's going to be able to do just what they want. They need to schedule it all through Chris Bolt, our recreation person,” he continued. “And we're probably going to end up hiring somebody to help him and some part-time people to make sure that everything is run properly, because you're going to be running pretty much seven days a week during ball season.”

Spates doesn't foresee any major difficulties in getting the renovations in place by next summer's state tournament.

“It's going to be a little bit inconvenient for the ball teams until we get everything done but I think we can pretty much work within that time-frame,” he said.

Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors chairman William G. “Buckie” Fore, vice-chairman Howard Simpson, and county administrator Wade Bartlett attended Town Council's closed session meeting but the County officials, citing investment needs in the high school's athletic complex, expressed the opinion that the County could not afford to participate financially, according to Spates.

“We invited Howard and Buckie and Wade to come. Because I went to talk to them after we (Town Council) met (in August) to see if they were interested in going in with us and they said they weren't,” the town manager said. “They said at first that they were but I think they've got a lot of issues with the county schools that they got to address so…I think that's really what's driving them. And they felt that if they went in with us on this it would send a message to the schools that might not go over too well.”

Spates said he understood their point of view.

“Yeah, I can see where they're coming from,” he said, adding there was no animosity. “It was pretty lighthearted. It wasn't like we were mad because they weren't going with us.”

The entire community will benefit from the Field Of Dreams renovations, the town manager believes, having been told about the impact of such tournaments on South Hill.

“South Hill talked about how much money it brought in when they had these tournaments. They had the World Series over there…and they estimated the businesses took in over a million dollars in revenue,” Spates said.

“People are going to have time in between games,” Spates said and they can go shopping, eat at restaurants and enjoy the community in different, but all beneficial, ways.

“You need to get the people here,” Spates said.

And then the local economy can benefit from their spending.

Spates believes Farmville's location and lifestyle will prove attractive to those who live in Virginia's urban communities.

“They hold a lot of tournaments up in Northern Virginia and it's just so congested. People from Northern Virginia, when they come down here for tournaments they seem to like it a lot more,” Spates said. “It's not as hustle-bustle, it doesn't take you as long to get from one place to the other.

“So I'm real excited about it. I hate to spend the money,” he added, “but I think if you're going to do it, now's the time to do it.

“I think it's a good thing,” he concluded, “for the community.”