Collegiate Ballpark Delayed Over Stalled Funding, Virus

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A Michigan town will have to delay opening day for its new ballpark and first summer collegiate baseball team, the Royal Oak Leprechauns. 

Mark Sackett, president of the Royal Oak Leprechauns and chairman of the nonprofit Michigan Red Sox youth baseball team, told the Royal Oak Tribune that the summer collegiate team will now start in 2021.

Sackett said a stall in fundraising for completion of an upgrade to the field at Memorial Park, as well as the current COVID-19 crisis are the reasons for the delay.

Some of the work at Memorial Park has already been completed, including new fencing, dugouts and backstop padding. The new artificial turf, however, will have to wait.

“We still need another $300,000,” Sackett said. “We got (financial) commitments last (fall) then it started drying up.”

The Leprechauns are part of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League. A March fundraiser had to be shut down because of the virus outbreak. Additional renovations include $160,000 for excavating and $180,000 for the artificial turf. That will all be put on hold until August.

Sackett is expecting the Leprechauns and their new park to be a boon for the local community. He said he expects hundreds of people to turn out for games, which will feature local food carts, as well as merchandise sales.

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