Courtesy of the Oklahoman
by Diana Baldwin
Tournament and league play are under way at Edmond’s new $6 million softball complex. A series of problems delayed the opening.
EDMOND — Softballs smashing into bats and players cheering as they ran from one base to the next were welcome sounds Wednesday at Edmond’s new $6 million softball complex.
It had been a rough journey for the past 2 1/2 years, when the only sounds at the four-field complex were coming from construction workers.
But the ball park opened in time for the first tournament, welcoming softball players from across the state.
Edmond was host to 30 teams trying to qualify for a spot in the Special Olympics state tournament in Stillwater, set for May 13-15.
“It is really cool,” said John Seals, sports director for Special Olympics Oklahoma. “It is an honor for us to be the first. I can’t wait until they have the other fields.”
Original plans were to build eight new fields on the northeast corner of Post Road and State Highway 66, but there was only enough money to construct four fields.
The first bid, for eight fields, came in with a $10.5 million price tag, and the the city had only $4.5 million for the project from a special sales tax approved by voters in 2000 for capital improvements. The lighting was paid for with the city’s park tax.
The softball fields are located in Edmond 66 Park, the city’s fourth community park, purchased in 2007 for $1.5 million.
The first projected opening date was fall 2013. Ground was broken in September 2012. A brief opening ceremony was held Wednesday with a bigger celebration to be scheduled in May.
The softball project started with renovations of the old fields at Bickham Softball Complex on Midwest Boulevard between Danforth and Covell roads. Then city officials decided to buy the new 118-acre community park.
There had been one delay after another since the project started. The design work took an extra six months, two wells had to be drilled in an attempt to find uncontaminated water, and copper wiring was stolen from the park.
So much time went by, Edmond made a deal to sell water to the town of Arcadia. A city waterline could then be run to the park and water wells were no longer needed for drinking water.
The police investigation into the stolen wiring has been turned over to the district attorney. Officers think three people are responsible for the theft that city officials said cost $100,000 in losses. Charges have not been filed.
Adult softball players have waited more than 14 years for a new ball park.
The first adult co-ed league played on the new fields Tuesday night.
“This place is beautiful at night,” said Jacky Muse, president of the Edmond Adult Softball Association. “It is cool to be out here. This place is gorgeous.”
Muse and the other softball players were frustrated over the years while they waited on the new fields.
“It was frustrating,” Muse said. “There was problem after problem. We are glad to be here, this is such a nice place.”