ARLINGTON – Rainouts in baseball wreak havoc on Little Leaguers and their parents.
It can be a big hassle getting games in before playoffs start. Depending on the season, some games may never be made up.
At Bill Quake Memorial Park in Arlington, Matrix synthetic turf is being put in so games can be played, even in the rain.
Ben Johnson, business development manager with Seattle-based contractor Hellas Construction, said ballfield users are going to love the renovated fields. They will have infill materials that provide for better drainage and shock absorption. The contractor used the same material for South Kitsap High School football and soccer fields in Bremerton.
“This turf hasn’t been used for baseball,” Johnson said during a recent groundbreaking ceremony at the ballfields. “You’re the first.”
Chris Jones attended the ceremony with his three Stilly Valley little leaguers Eli, Aiden and Ethan. Eli said he mostly looks forward “getting to play in the rain.”
The new turf will solve a problem that has thrown sports family calendars out of whack for decades: rainouts and soggy fields causing games to be cancelled. The Jones boys would rather play baseball in the rain, than not at all.
As a parent, Jones said he is thrilled with the potential to draw recreational tourism and baseball tournaments to Arlington. His family and others can spend thousands of dollars going to out-of-town to play in select tournaments. He hopes that the renovated and new fields will put Arlington’s Quake Field on deck to host major baseball tournaments.
Greg Dunc, Stilly Valley Little League president representing 400 boys and girls, said he is blown away by the project and proud to be a part of it.
“It’s a game changer for the Arlington Boys and Girls Club and Stilly Valley Little League,” he said, referring also to the field work at the adjacent Boys and Girls Club.
The $600,000 first phase of the project is being funded by grants sought as part of the Stilly Valley Youth Project, as well as recreational and athletic facilities in the Stillaguamish Valley that were related to or impacted by the 2014 Oso slide.
Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert obtained a $350,000 matching grant from Snohomish County to combine with a $250,000 grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
Snohomish County Councilman Ken Klein emphasized the community partnerships that are bringing to fruition the ballfield renovations, as well as the Boys and Girls Club’s Stilly Valley Youth Projects to expand the gym.
“The Quake Field renovations will be an economic driver for us,” Klein said.