Back Mountain Baseball routinely uses the offseason to make improvements to its fields.
This year, the league is making a larger investment to make those improvements more extensive.
Work is underway to upgrade the fields, driveway and parking lot.
It is in our capital budget to always put $5-10,000 into the fields for things like fencing, dirt, a tractor, based on need, said league president Steve Skammer. This year, we're doing new dugouts and a new backstop on the Major League field and we're refinishing the fields up top, fixing drainage. Instead of $10,000 this year, it will be in the range of $60-70,000 to re-do all the fields.
Skammer said the expenditures are split nearly in half between the lighted Major League field, which also serves as the home of the Dallas High School baseball team, and the combination of the four upper fields used for Minor Leagues.
Back Mountain Baseball has a history of more than 50 years working with the Dallas School District, which owns the land. The Little League organization uses the fields and takes responsibility for their maintenance.
Skammer said the league has looked into the possibility of obtaining its own fields, but has determined that doing so in the Back Mountain would cost well over a million dollars, outside the reach of a youth sports organization. Instead, it took money raised through the years to increase its commitment to the current fields.
We kind of have a gentlemen's agreement with the school district, he said. We take care of the fields and update them. It works well.
Skammer said the league presents its plans to the school board each year. It also consulted Dallas softball coach Joyce Tinner to make sure changes on the Major League field work well for her team.
The Little League's 15-member board came up with the latest plans. Those plans need to be completed during October and November because the fields are used from March to October and field work is difficult after the weather becomes too cold.
The good thing about our board is that we have CPAs on it, we have attorneys, we have some people who are involved in construction and we have people who work for the township, Skammer said. We have a good mix of people who understand funding, understand banking and understand fields.
The deteriorating retaining wall of the rightfield fence at the Major League field has been replaced. At the same site, work is being done to replace the dugouts and backstop.
Eventually, everyone in our program will get to play there, Skammer said. It's kind of our showcase. It's where we have district playoffs.
We haven't had new backstops and dugouts down there in 15 or 20 years.
Up above, on the four Minor League fields used by more than 500 youngsters each year, more work is being done on the fields and their drainage.
Skammer said the use of earlier fundraising money means there will be no additional fees to families to participate in the league and there will not be any increase in sponsor costs.