BERLIN — Berlin Little League’s (BLL) new concession/multi-purpose building should be up and running in time for Opening Day in April.
Ground was broken this month on the roughly $150,000 structure, which will include a better concession stand, bathrooms and a meeting area.
‘This was about really two years of planning and trying to fundraise to get the money and finally we’ve broken ground and construction is exciting,” said Eric Snelsire, BLL vice-president.
The new, two-story facility will measure in at 1,800 square feet and include a snack bar, bathroom facilities and a second floor devoted to group meetings and administrative use. With the addition of the new bathroom facilities, BLL will finally qualify to host a number of tournaments at their home field.
“It does two things for us. One, it provides us a state-of-the-art building that allows the parents that volunteer at the concession stand to be more comfortable and make the operation a little bit more efficient, “ said Snelsire. “Also, because we’re adding bathrooms to the facility it upgrades our facility to a point where we can host more tournaments on the Little League regional level, state and regional level tournaments.”
In addition to the amenities downstairs, the building’s second floor will be used for BLL meetings, administrative tasks as well as being open for some public events.
“The second story, we hope it will be a community room that we can use for our meetings,” Snelsire said. “The Berlin Lions Club is kind of partners with us as well.”
The total cost for the structure is expected to come in around $150,000, with $100,000 of that grant funding and $50,000 coming directly from the Berlin community, including a $10,000 donation by the town last April. Residents had no problem digging deep to help the league get their new building despite having already done their part to finance the championship team on the tournament circuit, according to Snelsire.
“It was kind of tough for us to keep going back to the community for support but they certainly have extended their pocketbooks and their generosity to help this project get through. We raised almost $30,000 for that team on top of the $50,000 we ended up getting for the building,” said Snelsire.
The donations came in steadily throughout the process and reaching the $50,000 match needed to trigger the other $100,000 in grant funding “was very quick in happening once we got the ball rolling,” according to Snelsire. While the entire community played a role in making the new BLL building a reality, Snelsire gave a special shout out to Mayor Gee Williams, one of BLL’s more vocal fans.
“Mayor Williams has really been a great person to help support our league in the community,” Snelsire said. “He’s done everything in the world to help support our league and continues to do so.”
The plan is to use the new structure as a kind of base of operations for BLL. Donations are still being sought to fund the facility and to be used to purchase new equipment for players. This includes the sale of commemorative bricks that will be laid around the new structure.
“So what we’re going to do as time goes on is we’re going to create this patio area around the building,” BLL representative Ray Thompson said last April, “so generation after generation, as their children come through the league, can purchase a brick on that patio and it will get larger and larger and larger.”
Construction on the facility is expected to run from this month into spring with a soft completion date before Saturday, April 12, which is Opening Day for 2014.