SARASOTA COUNTY — Four years after Bob Mitchell first dreamed up plans to construct a baseball field for people with physical disabilities in Sarasota, his vision is nearly fulfilled.
Representatives of The Miracle League of Manasota, as well as Sarasota and Manatee County officials, and others, gathered Dec. 12, at Longwood Park for the official groundbreaking on a new baseball complex.
A custom-designed, rubberized field, which replaces an existing field at the park, should be ready for play in March.
“It’s emotional,” said Mitchell, president of The Miracle League of Manasota. “It’s very inspiring to see people step up and play their role (to get this done). We’re just excited it’s come this far, and we’ll be (ready) to play ball in March.”
Miracle League, which is funding about half of the roughly $1.2 million project, is an organization dedicated to providing an opportunity for individuals of all ages to play baseball, regardless of their abilities.
The complex it is constructing in partnership with Sarasota County, will feature cushioned, rubberized turf to help prevent injuries, as well as wheelchair-accessible dugouts, handicapped-accessible concession stand and restrooms and a completely flat surface to eliminate barriers for players with special needs.
“It’s an honor to be part of this project,” said WBRC Architects and Engineer’s Laura Adcock, who designed a portion of the project. “It’s very exciting to see (Bob’s and everyone’s) hard work come to fruition.”
Rhonda Peters, a grant writer for Miracle League who attended the event, said she was excited to see a facility built for a segment of the population that often is overlooked.
“Dreams coming true are always wonderful,” she said.
Opening day for the facility is slated for the spring 2012. Miracle League will reach out to children and adults with special needs to play baseball through county recreation programs, disability support groups, servicing agencies, schools and existing baseball programs.
Mitchell, who works in the insurance industry, said he decided to pursue the construction of a specialized baseball field after a hearing about Miracle League from one of his clients, a professional baseball player with a daughter with disabilities. He presented Sarasota County with the idea shortly thereafter. The Longwood Park site, he said, proved ideal because its infrastructure already was in place.
For information about Miracle League, visit www.miracleleaguemanasota.org or contact Mitchell at 284-7624.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].