Sports

Softball fields to receive major upgrade

Work to Baillou Hills Complex is a part of plan for sporting facilities in the country

Baseball and softball are two sports that are very near and dear to Bahamians and the National Sports Authority (NSA) deemed it necessary to give the Baillou Hills Softball Complex a needed makeover as the Andre Rodgers National Baseball Stadium is set to be completed by December 2022.

Speaking at a press conference held at the fields was NSA Chairman Greg Burrows Sr. He said the fields are in need of an upgrade and that the NSA is responsible for that.

“What we are doing today is a makeover of the quad field of the Baillou Hills facilities in preparation for the future. The NSA has the responsibility of providing facilities in order for the Ministry of Tourism to have a product to assist them in selling this ‘Sports in Paradise’ program. That is what we are doing here,” Burrows said.

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg said that getting the fields upgraded is the start of the government’s plan to upgrade sporting facilities in the country.

“This is the commencement of upgrading facilities in the downtime when there is no sports being played, so that when we do commence sports, especially baseball and softball, which are non-contact sports, they will be able to play on a facility that is up to standard that they will appreciate more. It is my hope that baseball and softball will get innovative and commence playing soon,” Bowleg stated.

As for a completion date, Burrows did not give a specific timeframe but said that the fields should be ready in time for the Bahamas Baseball Association’s (BBA) National Championships that is set for early June. After that is the Babe Ruth Caribbean Region Championships, set for July 7-11, in New Providence, The Bahamas.

“We have a tournament booked for the second week in July,” Burrows said. “We are hoping that the baseball nationals will be held here in June. We will use that with the blessing of the baseball federation to see how the fields behave and work. We will train our people to be in and out as far as lining up, so when we get the international tournaments like the one in July, we will be ready. There is another tournament here at the end of July and one in December. Then in November is when Perfect Game will be here for their first tournament and that is around 60 teams. We have some more work to do and that is where the minister comes in – with the stadium and the other supporting fields behind the stadium.”

There is a large piece of land between the Andre Rodgers National Stadium and the complex. The sports minister said that space will be used to construct three more baseball fields to complement the stadium.

“We intend to put three baseball fields there that will coincide with the baseball stadium, so that when we are having multiple events at one time or a large baseball tournament, we can do that. These are softball fields and we don’t want to take away from softball. While we may be able to use these fields for younger kids in baseball, we want to make sure that the baseball fields outside of Andre Rodgers Stadium is also prepared, so they can stay separate and apart,” Bowleg said.

Upgrades to the softball complex include extending the fields to 300 feet, longer dugouts and installing nets at the back of the home plates.

“We are moving the fields back about 300 feet in the areas we can get them close to the standard where we can accommodate fast pitch softball, slow pitch softball, youth baseball and girls softball. We are just trying to put it in a position where the fields can be multi-purpose and adjusted for whatever sport we need to play on it. We went from a small dugout to a 30-foot dugout. That was decided because of the environment that we are in now. As a result of COVID-19, we want to stretch it out as much as we can. Hopefully, it goes away soon but in the event that it doesn’t, we decided to go with a bigger dugout,” Burrows said.

He continued, “At the back of the home plates, we are going with nets with the backdrop. We are going with a low wall for advertisement. We are going with the six feet fence instead of the eight feet fence. I think you will see a totally prettier, nicer and modern softball/baseball complex. We are going to refurbish the bathrooms and later on, we are going to construct bigger bathrooms. The intent is to extend that at a later date but right now we are going to refurbish. We will be mounting bleachers as well.”

As for lighting, Bowleg said it will be similar to the lights at the Roscow A.L. Davies Soccer Field.

Work on the fields is being done by Bommer Heavy Equipment (George “Bommer George” Armbrister), Anthony Swaby from Reliable Fencing, Gerard Rolle from Caribbean Plumbing and Steven Morley from Island Trucking and Heavy Equipment. Bowleg thanked them with along with the other ministries for their work.

“I’d like to thank those who partnered with us to do this along with the other ministries that partnered with us to bring these fields to where they will be without a cost. That is what we want to do – continue to partner with private partners and other ministries. This is a partnership for those who have the love for sports and who want to give back to ensure we get these facilities up to standard,” Bowleg said.

Once the fields are finished, they will look at the Banker’s Field, the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium and the Andre Rodgers National Baseball Stadium.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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