New Deerfield Park ballpark amenities welcome additions
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
RIFLE — Troy Phillips is pretty excited about the new grandstands going up at the Deerfield Park baseball field — but not for the obvious reason you might expect.
“All I know,” Phillips said, laughing, “is that I want an ice machine to be put there so I don’t have to lug ice all the way from the school to the baseball field. That’s something I’m looking forward to.”
That’s not the only thing the 19th-year coach of Rifle High School’s baseball team is anticipating. He, along with all of the players and fans of all area baseball players, will have all sorts of new amenities to enjoy. The inlaid construction in place behind the Cooper Field baseball diamond is the foundation for a grandstand project that’s scheduled for completion in September.
And when it’s done, it will add a little more to a ballfield that is already considered one of the better fields in Western Colorado.
“It won’t be as great as Suplizio [Field in Grand Junction] or Coors Field but, as far as Western Slope high school fields, it should rank pretty high up there,” Rifle Parks and Recreation Director Tom Whitmore said. “We like to set pretty high aspirations for how good our facilities are.”
The additions help add amenities to a field that’s used almost daily between high school, little league and recreational-leagues. It will include a pressbox, a concession stand facing away from the field and bathrooms to replace the port-a-pottys currently located behind the home-plate backstop.
Also included in front of the pressbox area will be a center grandstand along with seating along the first- and third-base lines, which will be aluminum park bleachers. Whitmore estimated that the stands will be able to hold up to 600 people when they’re jam packed, but he also conceded that likely won’t happen often because of fans’ tendencies to spread out.
Of course, Phillips was more than happy about the prospect of his team manager’s comfort.
“They’ll definitely enjoy being inside during the cold spring,” he said.
The total cost of the project, according to Whitmore, is close to $1.3 million. That includes, according to Garfield School District Re-2 spokeswoman Theresa Hamilton, $650,000 from the district over the decade leading up to the current project. That’s broken down to $50,000 for the initial planning of the ballfield, $300,000 in initial ballfield construction and $300,000 in the current construction project. Another $350,000 came from a Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant.
“We probably wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for the school district,” Whitmore said.
The project has been under consideration for some time, beginning when the original Cooper Field baseball diamond was located on the Garfield County Fairgrounds. The project will also add lights in the parking lot between Cooper Field and the softball fields for safety reasons. Landscaping work on the outside of the baseball field is also planned, and Whitmore also said that, down the road, he’d like for Taughenbaugh Field — the softball field where Rifle High’s softball team plays its home games — to also be upgraded.
Phillips said when he heard that PNCI out of Grand Junction won the bid for the project in February, there was fear Rifle wouldn’t be able to play their 2013 season on its home field.
“They were gracious enough to let us keep playing while they worked,” Phillips said. “That won’t be an issue next year.”
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