Baseball/softball complex being built east of Saputo Stadium
By Kevin Boneske
PULASKI – The weather wasn’t ideal for baseball or softball Thursday, April 12, when a groundbreaking ceremony was held east of Saputo Stadium for Phase II of the Red Raiders’ “Field of Dreams” project.
The Pulaski Community School District’s initial Phase II plans to build a new baseball/softball complex at that site by the high school include two baseball fields, two softball fields, a press box/storage area and concession stands/bathrooms.
PCSD Superintendent Bec Kurzynske recognized the community support for the project when she spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony.
“(Athletic Director Janel Batten’s) energy, her passion and her commitment to this Field of Dreams initiative, and the leadership of the steering committee, is the reason that we’re standing her today,” Kurzynske said. “Thanks to the work of our steering committee and our fundraising efforts and the board of education entrusting that that fundraising will continue…”
The district is still looking to raise about $1.5 million of the expected $2.3 million cost for the baseball/softball portion of Phase II. After that part of the project would be completed, plans for the remaining Phase II work include three additional tennis courts at the high school, additional practice fields and upgrades to the middle school soccer complex.
Phase I of the project – which cost $3.2 million and included a football and soccer field with artificial turf at the high school; a new track and areas for field events, the band and a community plaza at Saputo Stadium; a press box, concession stand, restrooms and stadium seating at Saputo Stadium; and bathrooms added to the middle school soccer stadium – was completed in September 2016 and fully paid by pledges and in-kind contributions of materials and labor.
School Board President Michael Voelker said the board backed the Field of Dreams project because of its benefit to the entire community.
“This facility has had a transformational effect, not just on the school, but on the community,” Voelker said. “It’s literally changed the landscape of the community. You know, when you come in from the south, you can see it. It’s recognized and praised by those outside the district. When we go to other districts, go to other sporting events, we hear people talking about the facility and how great it is.”
Batten said she is “very proud of this community that is responsible for making this dream a reality.”
“Without the support of the Pulaski school board, the administrative team, the village, the steering committee, the Red Raiders’ sports booster club members, and the countless donors involved here, this project would not be the reality that we are making this become today,” she said.
Becca May, a Pulaski High School junior on the softball team and the granddaughter of Bob and Betty Van Lannen, said she is looking forward to the opportunity starting next spring for her and her younger cousins to play on the fields that will be named after her grandparents.
“Sports have truly always been a big part of the Van Lannen family…,” she said. “I speak on behalf of my entire family when I say we are truly blessed to live in a community like Pulaski, and it makes giving back that much easier.”