The Parkhurst Field Foundation will conduct the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $1.4 million Phase 1 construction of its “Legends Field” project Saturday at Parkhurst Field at 9:30 a.m.
The groundbreaking coincides with the official season ending closing ceremonies for the Gloversville Little League, which is a good thing, because the existing baseball fields at the location will be shut down and reorganized as part of the first phase of the planned $3.6 million project to create a nationally recognized, lighted little league park with ultimately five regulation fields, one of them a premier field set up with the same 1906 home plate location of the former A.J&G Park that major league baseball legends Honus Wagner, Cy Young and Moonlight Doc Graham played on.
Parkhurst Field’s connection to the early years of professional baseball, and to Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, a character in the 1989 Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams”, are the core elements of the project to transform the park into a tourism destination in an attempt to tap into the estimated $7 billion youth sports tourism industry. The ultimate plan for the project is to use the park’s rich connection to the history of baseball to attract traveling little league baseball teams for tournaments at the location, 16 little league teams per week, with about 13 kids per team, leading to an estimated 500 attendees per week at the location between July 4 and Labor Day every year once the fields are built and ready for baseball.
Parkhurst Field Foundation President David Karpinski said Phase 1 of the project will include building all of the needed infrastructure for the new park, building and “encasing” the premier little league field, construction of a 500-seat grandstand and a pavilion which will serve as the temporary concession stand for Gloversville Little, to be located right around where second base is in the senior field right now, and a temporary little league field.
“We will be displaying the current minor and major fields, because the grandstands sit on the minor field and extend through the existing concession stand, which will be (torn down), so we’ll build that in the front of the facility,” Karpinski said. “We’ll build the pavilion to hold their current concession stands. That’s where all of the electric and bathrooms and utilities run to, to support Phase 2, which is the (construction of) the additional three fields.”
In August of 2021 the Parkhurst Field Foundation received a $1 million grant from Fulton County as part of the county’s “Destination: Fulton County” strategic plan for how to spend the $10.4 million in pandemic economic stimulus funding from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Karpinski said the Parkhurst Field Foundation combined the grant money from the county with it’s own fundraising to pay for Phase 1 of the project, which was scaled back somewhat from the original plan in order to break ground this year. He described the timetable for the project going forward.
“The land clearing will be the month of July, the supports and peers and everything it takes to build the grandstands will be in place in August,” he said. “The walls of the field will be built and the sod laid before September, or into September. The actual infrastructure of the grandstands will be delivered as late as November; that’s the actual seating and the roof put on and finalized at that time, finishing touches up to March 15, and then [the facility will be] handed back to the little league, so they can play games with the start of their season next April.”
Karpinski said the next several parts of the park to be built will require significant additional fundraising. He said Phase 2 of the project will start with a 40 foot by 60 foot concession stand/clubhouse costing an estimated $500,000, then approximately $1 million will be needed to construct three satellite fields, and then the last things to be built will be about $500,000 worth of batting cages, parking lots and lighting for the fields.
Separate, but adjacent, to the baseball field project, the Parkhurst Field Foundation will also be looking to raise between $250,000 and $500,000 for the renovation of the former 6,500 square-foot former Reliable Auto Parts & Hardware building at 45 Harrison St. into the physical location of the New York state Baseball Hall of Fame, an entity that has existed since around 2009, has about 100 inductees including major league baseball greats like New York Yankee Bernie Williams, but has never had a physical location.
In November, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors approved a 10-year lease-to-own contract with the Parkhurst Field Foundation for 45 Harrison St., which the county acquired via tax foreclosure.
Karpinski said the Parkhurst Field Foundation lease with Fulton County will give it the option to purchase the building at its current assessed value and includes escalating payments based on the years of the contract and not on the revenues of the hall of fame museum, which won’t open for visitors until 2023 at the earliest. He said some of the planned items for the New York state Baseball Hall of Fame renovation include display cases, a plaque-wall gallery and a plan for a theater room to fit 50 people to watch player highlights and game recaps.
Karpinski said people who are interested in donating to help the project can go to the donation tab located at www.parkhurstfield.org, and anyone who donates at least $1,000 to the project can be “memorialized in name” somewhere on the facility.
At 10:30 a.m., after the groundbreaking ceremony, the 2022 Fulton County Baseball & Sports HOF will have its induction ceremony. The inductees will include the 1951 Gloversville High School undefeated baseball team, which included Gene Satterlee, who was a key pitcher and batter on the team, as well as four individuals who went on to play professionally — Jack Sanford, Don Shoblom, Joe Kobuskie and Frank Ricco.
The bevy of baseball activities at Parkhurst Field will then close with the annual Parkhurst Cup Game between the Gloversville Little League All-Stars versus the Johnstown Little League All-Stars.