The new baseball field is worth every penny

Petaluma’s new baseball diamond, unveiled at a groundbreaking ceremony last week, will be more than a must-have full-size baseball diamond.

You can find more information about the diamond in the history of this page. What I offer in this missive is my personal vision of what the installation could mean, and I hope will mean for the community.

Over the years I have seen many sports facilities, including baseball diamonds, sprout like California poppies in the community, but never one of this size and vision. There was a time when diamonds were benevolent creations. A group of community members would come together, receive material and monetary donations from the community, and build a Little League park.

Much of the original Casa Grande High School baseball field was built by volunteers.

The weather is changing. Today, it takes skilled architects, civil engineers, unionized workers, permits, permissions and, most obviously, money to build a dugout, let alone a full-scale diamond.

The facility being built at the Washington Street site will cost approximately $5.3 million, with more than another million needed for amenities to make it the facility everyone wants.

That’s a lot of money.

It will be worth every penny.

I arrive late at East Washington Street Park. It was people like Kevin McDonnel and young soccer advocates who had the vision for what has become perhaps the busiest sports facility in the city. It’s hard to imagine how we managed our high school and youth programs without these areas.

What I see when I put on my VR headset is a baseball stadium that is the centerpiece of not just East Washington Street Park, but this whole east side area. With soccer and lacrosse fields, Prince’s Park across the street, and the Rooster Run Golf Course, you have a recreation dream. Put a baseball stadium in the foreground and you have something very special.

But, it has to be a ballpark – not just a diamond. The diamond will be great, but we need first class facilities, something that will attract not only Leghorn American Legion fans, but also high school teams and fans and youth groups. We need a facility that will attract high-profile matches and tournaments.

It’s not hard to imagine Petaluma and Casa Grande rivalry matches being played under the lights of the new facility; North Coast section and even CIF playoff games; junior and senior traveling team tournaments. Since the field will be grassed, teams will be able to play at times when our current high school fields are swamps or pools.

I recently made my annual pilgrimage to the Fairfield Laurel Creek facility which will be the site of the area and area American Legion tournaments this year. It’s an awesome place to play and watch baseball with only one real downside. It can be over 100 degrees in the shade and there is no shade.

Imagine an even nicer facility, with a better press room, snack shack, batting cages – plus the almost perpetual cooling breeze of East Petaluma. Napa has its Memorial Stadium for football, Healdsburg has its revitalized recreation park, Sonoma has its Arnold Field. We can have something even better.

I’ll admit to being mean-spirited, but I’d like to see American Canyon fans go home raving about the Petaluma baseball stadium instead of Petalumans going home in awe of this community’s high school facilities.

I have a few suggestions.

You have to make one immediately. There needs to be better signage to delineate the opening of the park. It’s hard enough for locals to find the entrance, let alone visitors from other communities.

The other is that the park and the ballpark must have names. I don’t know what the city rules are on the names of parks and stadiums. There are several people in the community who deserved to be honored. If the city prefers not to name a game or stadium to a person, I’m sure someone can find a suitable name.

Leghorns Park was perfect. It will be fun to throw around a few names for the whole complex and, in particular, our new stadium – and I mean the stadium because that’s what we will have eventually. It was time.

(Contact John Jackson at [email protected])

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