Will they come if you build it?
Before leaving on vacation in June, an opinion piece was published in the Reflector-Chronicle’s sports pages about creating a master plan for sports facilities in Abilene and to begin discussions on improvements that are deemed needed.
Since then, numerous e-mails, phone calls and Facebook posts have continued to fuel community conversations about Abilene’s ball fields and stadiums. Questions about what is needed now versus what may be planned in someone’s budgeting process for the future.
The Reflector-Chronicle had the opportunity to meet with new USD 435 school Superintendent Greg Brown shortly after his arrival in town. Brown was open to discussion on the topic and had some thoughts of his own based on some limited observations of his own. He also mentioned the need for the community leaders, the supporters of the various athletic clubs and teams to come together and to discus the situation with open minds based on needs and for the future of Abilene activities.
Numerous readers of the editorial agreed with the concept that was printed about making an economic investment into a facilities project that could in turn create an economic boost to Abilene as a whole. The idea of weekly summer tournaments is not a new concept, it has been thought about by many creative thinkers in Abilene but lacked an organizational push to completion. Many communities already enjoy the fruits of the labor involved and they reap the rewards in motel stays, gasoline purchases and dining at local restaurants and fast food establishments.
Salina is having similar discussions about its two largest ballparks and stadiums at this time. Discussions of much needed expansion of stadiums and adding turf fields, particularly in baseball, are in process. Interesting note from their discussions is that funding has been found through grants, including a large donation by Major League Baseball.
Maybe this is something that Abilene could benefit from too?
As the summer seasons have come to an end, now is the time to continue the conversations. Keep the momentum going for a meeting of the minds of the community leaders, school district and all interested parties to come together with a master plan. Knowing that it won’t happen overnight – but keep it going so that progress can be seen eventually that will enhance the lives of youngsters enjoying outside activities now and in the future.