Rockies want to pitch in on Basalt’s `Fields of Dreams’ project |

Rockies want to pitch in on Basalt’s `Fields of Dreams’ project

Thanks to the Colorado Rockies baseball team, Basalt’s Fields of Dreams is one step closer to reality.

The Rockies’ philanthropic charity, the Colorado Rockies Foundation, has offered to pitch $28,000 toward the project.

Much of the money will come from Rockies pitcher Mike Hampton.

The offer is also the first test of the Roaring Fork Re-1 School District’s recently adopted Corporate Partnerships Policy. Board members gave the offer tentative approval Wednesday.

The complex is being planned through a partnership with the town of Basalt and the nonprofit Fields of Dreams Committee, a subcommittee of the Basalt High School Booster Club. The Fields committee is in the process of raising funds for the project, called the Basalt Sports Complex, to be built at Basalt High School. When complete, the complex will include a baseball, softball, soccer and football/track field. Rockies money would go toward the baseball field.

“It would become the elite ball field in this valley,” Nick Alcorta, Basalt Recreation Department director, told board members Wednesday.

The district’s policy gives guidelines for recognition of corporate and business donations to programs operating under the guise of the school district. Before any donations can be accepted, the district’s board of directors must approve all recognition in the form of visible, permanent logos and signs bearing the donor’s name or corporate logo.

To date, no formal agreement between the Rockies and the Field of Dreams has been made. Alcorta has been in contact with Sean McGraw of the Rockies Foundation and presented a mock photo of the baseball scoreboard, with the words “Colorado Rockies” in small print at its base, as an example of how the Rockies might be recognized. He suggested that a banner thanking the team and Hampton also be displayed.

The details of the recognition would have to be worked out between the district and the Rockies.

The Rockies understand that the field will be built on school property, said Alcorta. What they want to know before committing to a donation is that the school district is willing to work with them.

“You haven’t said anything, for me, that raises a red flag,” board member Bruce Matherly to Alcorta.

Some board members expressed concern about the scoreboard, stating that the partnership policy calls for “identification and recognition rather than commercial purposes.”

Others thought the scoreboard was in good taste.

“I think it dovetails very nicely into our corporate policy,” said Matherly.

Alcorta, who is also the Basalt High School baseball coach, stressed the numerous benefits the field might bring to the valley. It would be used by Basalt’s numerous school and recreation department ball programs, and could attract additional youth leagues, tournaments and baseball camps. “Everyone benefits,” he said. The Fields of Dreams committee has been fund-raising for 18 months, according to co-chair members Jo Gawrys and Leslie Newbury. Both attended Wednesday’s meeting and gave board members an update on their fund-raising.

“The in-kind donations have been phenomenal,” Gawrys said. To date, the committee has received in excess of $100,000 in in-kind donations alone.

J. Frost Merriott, executive director of the RH Crossland Foundation in Basalt, has committed to match that $100,000. The foundation asks in return that a field or other feature of the complex be named after Rusty Crossland, for whom the foundation is named, and that “the complex memorialize all Roaring Fork Valley children who have died prematurely,” according to a letter to the committee from Merriott.

The committee is also sponsoring a fund-raiser dinner, dance and silent auction on Wednesday, March 6. McGraw is expected make a formal acknowledgment of the foundation’s affiliation with the project at the dinner.

According to Newbury, the project would begin this year, with the football field scheduled to be “ready for practice” by fall 2002.

Board members urged the three advocates to have a clear picture of what’s expected from the district before proceeding with any negotiations.

“The school district is very grateful for all you’re doing,” board member Peter Delany told them. “It’s a great way to help kids.”

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