LAKEWOOD RANCH — For the past 11 years, the East Manatee Bulldogs have been operating out of a doublewide trailer. Now, the league is hoping to finally leave that behind for more suitable accommodations.
The league is in the process of raising money to build a new 5,800-square-foot clubhouse. The new clubhouse will feature an equipment room, meeting area, offices, retail and vending space and restrooms, allowing the Bulldogs to service more children down the road.
“I affectionately call it the Puppy House,” East Manatee Bulldogs Treasurer Anthony Hueston said. “If we get the building built, then we’ll be able to charge less for fees. We’ll be able to service more kids and possibly double our number of football teams.”
Discussions for the new clubhouse began a little more than three years ago, but after the project’s benefactor backed out, the building was put on hold. The league currently pays more than $6,500 a year to rent the trailer.
To date, the league, run completely by volunteers, has raised between $35,000 to $40,000 of the estimated $168,000 needed to build the clubhouse. Initially, it was going to cost $500,000 to build the clubhouse, but several businesses have stepped up to offer services, including the donation of the cement block for the clubhouse to sit on, time and money, among other services.
In addition, Manatee County Parks & Recreation managers Janet Reva and Carolyn Angiolillo attended a private meeting two weeks ago and verball committed $100,000 from the county’s construction fund toward the building of a new clubhouse.
The league is hoping to receive a formal letter from the county indicating its desire to move forward with their donation this week at which time the Bulldogs will be able to approach the bank about a construction loan.
“The only thing we know for sure is we have $35,000 toward this, but we need to raise the rest of the money,” Hueston said. “The trailer just isn’t safe. When it’s thundering and lightning in August, the clubhouse will provide a safe place for them to go. It may save some kid’s life someday.”
Once the proper funding is in place, the league can begin the construction phase of the project, which contractor TL Hill Construction LLC anticipates being able to complete in four to five months.
The league then plans to donate the building back to the county, specifically the parks & recreation department, and lease the building on a 99-year lease.
“It’ll be a joint venture between the East Manatee Bulldogs and the county,” Hueston said.
However, the league is still in need of donations to cover the remainder of the cost. The leagues plans to hold several fundraisers over the next six months, including a possible 10-man team flag football tournament with different businesses in the spring.
Additionally, the league will be selling bricks for $1,000, which will be permanently installed into the cement.
For more information on the new clubhouse or to make a donation, contact East Manatee Bulldogs Treasurer Anthony Hueston at 744-0604, Secretary Chris Oberlin at 720-0371 or Kendall Brown at 650-7963.
Contact Jen Blanco at email@example.com.
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